Album Review: Zazen Boys – Himitsu Girl’s Top Secret EP

May 19, 2009

now thats a japanese album cover

now thats a japanese album cover


Theres a typical world that math rock guitar riff’s fall into, and that is one purely for rhythmic purposes.  Exceptions can and are made but they are rare ones.  Bands become far too caught up in the interplay of dualing guitars and constantly changing time signatures to care about the most important function of the guitar in a rock enviroment, melody.  My whole point to bring it into relevance is that the japanese tend to stand at the head of these exceptions.  What better band than the Zazen Boys to illustrate this.

Led by ex Number Girl front man Mukai Shutoku, this group brings a lot of elements to the table.  Where previous efforts focused on funk, hip-hop, pop, and math-rock, this ep is strongly in the math rock end.  This could also be why it is my favorite release of theirs.

Lead title track sets things off with all its hitches stopping and starting with guitar and drums locked in step.  Eventually all the elements come together with Shutoku’s crazed hip-hop style phrasing.  While its a little off putting not being able to understand him its used primarily as another rhythm instrument along with drums.  It takes great skill to be able to tastefully lay vocals over music like this but once you hear them it wouldn’t be half as interesting without them. 

“Hentei Terminated” follows a similar pattern but amps it up with a seriously demented funk guitar riff at .12 seconds that mutates eventually into a fast ascending lick.  In the end all parts come together to create a quick run through of everything youve been hearing, its pretty impressive. 

At five songs (two rerecorded from their first two albums) this ep is full of energy and exactly what the rock community needs which is a little diversity.  Its amazing to me that more math rock bands dont take advantage of funk as it certainly adds a more lively quality to the music. Unfortunatly their album after this (4) failed to pull through with promises made on this ep. It was a mostly scatter shot work with some really stand out tracks and others that just dont seem to know what they want.  


RATING: Coleslaw that has just the right amount of sweet and vinegar.



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