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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Mattia Coletti Japan Tour, Koenji 20000V, Sep. 24th

Finding places in Japan is part of the fun of going to them. I foolishly made a rough drawing of the map to 20000V in my notebook because I couldn't be arsed taking the computer upstairs, connecting it to the printer and running off a quick copy. I should know better than this by now but even after this most recent lesson, the wandering about for fully forty minutes, the phone calls back to my girlfriend asking her to check the internet and guide me, and the streams of curse words uttered, will make no difference. I probably won't learn anything from this experience and will do it all over again the next time I go to a venue for the first time. Unsurprisingly, I'm not in the greatest of moods by the time I do find the place and it takes me a while to realise that the odd, and occasionally brutal sounds filling the room are not just the white noise of a speaker that's been left on but the live DJ set of Spastic Cucumber. I pay more attention and strands of sound start to form themselves into something resembling songs before disintegrating again. It's like end of Terminator 2 when the T-1000 is melting and random human shapes appear before being sucked back into the molten steel.

Akai Giwacku are ace again. I've only seen them a couple of times but I get the feeling that they just don't do average shows. The gospelly a capella that takes them through the audience before they take the stage, something that could easily be gimmicky in another band's hands, seems like the greatest idea since Robert Johnson decided he'd trade in his soul, and the songs have a hint of Satanic malfeasance about them too. As I'm watching them perform H.I.L.L.T.O.P (available to download free from TownTone's MySapce page) I realise that what this song really needs is to be performed at a huge summer festival, the sun shining, a largely drunken audience shouting the chorus back at the band. If there's any justice in the world this will surely come to pass someday and when it does I hope to be right down the front, jumping about like an idiot.

If Akai Giwacku had improved my mood then unfortunately the ensemble duo of Nagasawa Tetsu & Ozawa Aki bring me crashing back down to earth. The instrumental duo play everything well and as far as I can tell, the guitar playing is probably virtuoso. However, their music does nothing to grab me and, in a true sign of supportbanditis, I find myself standing on the street outside checking the score of the Ryder Cup on my mobile and hoping that by the time I get back down there they'll be done. They're not, and I catch bits of their last couple of songs. They're capable of occasional flashes of something more heartfelt and bollock-grabbing, but these moments soon pass and we're plunged back into a sea of fret-wankery. Ho-hum.

A beer later I'm hoping that solo-artist Paradise Garage (aka Toyoda Michinori) is going to be the cure for my supportbanditis. Things start well as he races through his first song in a haphazard punk way, looking like Ian McCulloch but sounding a lot rougher. I soon relapse though as it becomes apparent that his between song banter is the same length as, and sometimes longer than, the songs themselves, so I'm soon left standing there praying for the magic words 'This is the last song'. Finally, at the end of another long and rambling introduction I hear them and I'm able to relax my sphincter. The final song is the best one in the set, and not just because it's the last one. Toyoda swings between short sharp blasts of punk-pop and Sonic Youth-esque ear-shredding noise, seemingly singing a paean to someone or something (my Japanese isn't that good). If only he'd cut the intros down and stick to the music.

Things are not going well. What would improve my mood now? How about a beer? Check. A visit to the indiest toilet in Japan (see below)? Check. A poetry reading. Now you're just fucking with me. No? Cue swearing at a similar intensity to the time earlier when I was trying to find this place. My mind conjures up images of bad Beat Poets in smoky San Francisco book shops, wearing black, clicking their fingers, and stroking their goatees. But thankfully things don't always go to plan. As far as I can tell (like I said earlier, my Japanese isn't that great) the first poem is about travelling around Japan on trains and it's great. Japanese is a fantastically onomatopoeic language and the writer has taken full advantage of this to nail the experience of travelling on Japanese trains. The stations flying past the still-futuristic bullet train, the officious staff, the lunch-boxes, it's all here. I'm not so clued in on the other poems until we get to the final one which seems to be an epic piece about the history of communism, American interventions in Asia, and a general run down of the major global political events of the late Fifties and Sixties. It goes on for days and I'm starting to feel like this is something of an endurance test, but my overriding thought is the wish that I had studied Japanese more so I could understand this better. It's sweep is truly enormous as it seems to take in numerous aspects of the Cold War, the wars in Vietnam and Korea, the assassination of JFK, a German Shepherd dog, a soldier, and Christ only knows what else. I don't even think about going upstairs and checking the score in the golf.

I'm not sure if it's something they've always done or something that they've picked up from the mighty Giwacku, but Mattia Colleti and his co-conspirator make their way to the stage through the audience, one playing a small guitar that looks like it was picked up from a hundred yen shop, and the other manipulating some kind of effects box. They eventually take the stage and play their first song, which is probably the only 'song' they play all night. The rest of the set is the aural equivalent of a trepanation carried out by someone humming snippets of the gentlest melodies, and it's fucked up even more by the fact that I can barely see the stage and the two figures on it who are doing this to the audience. It's beautiful, horrific, ear-bleedingly and bowel-shakingly loud, and never anything but captivating. The supportbanditis is gone, replaced by a slight sense of bemusement as my senses try to work out how to deal with what they've just experienced. It was worth the wait and when I speak to the duo after the show it's easy to see just how much they've put into this tour, especially tonight's show which Colleti says has been the best of the tour. I haven't seen any of the other shows but it's difficult to see how they could have topped this. The music they make is often brutal and extreme with snippets of iridescent beauty, and it is possibly best experienced live (but then isn't all music?). Have a look at Mattia Coletti's MySpace profile for more information and a chance to hear this extraordinary music.