The diminutive figures of Masako Takada, Yuri Zaikawa and the imperious Sayaka Himeno, form all-girl band Nisennenmondai (which apparently means Y2K problem/bug in Japanese – a reference to the supposed computer programming flaw that was destined to lead to Armageddon on New Years Eve 1999); a product of the noise scene from Kansai, Tokyo who now play something between the krautrock of Neu!, ESG, The Boredoms and OOIOO, building everything around compelling pulsating rhythm.
London’s best promoters, Upset the Rhythm, ushered in the return of Nisennenmondai to the capital, this time sandwiched in-between the noise drone of Team Brick, running his throat singing and vocals through an FX pedal chain with, frankly, tiresome results and Growing, a former drone band currently peddling their wares on Kranky, who delivered what sounded a lot like orthodox dance music, if slightly warped, with off-kilter processed vocals that also failed to hold the attention. Maybe this is overly harsh but throughout both my boredom came close to engulfing me as these two couldn’t hold their own against the girls from Tokyo, who were the definite stars tonight.
Previous Upset the Rhythm appearances by Nisennenmondai have taught me that it’s easy to give yourself over to their dynamic, driving sound and that the trio bring an enthusiastic crowd, willing to embrace its trance like qualities, which was true again tonight.
They opened with a version of their latest record, FAN, Takada looping and layering her rhythmic syncopated metallic guitar lines, finding gaps, building elliptic rhythms slowly; it’s nearly 5 minutes before the bass drum kicks in, by which time the rhythm has already got you. Yuri’s bass follows, adding depth to the sound, and much like every part tonight starts out with just a note each bar before building and elaborating. As the sound fills out with the high hat, the pounding rhythm, and Takada adds phases of melody, it becomes apparent that what makes Nisennenmondai so compelling is drummer Himeno. In a band with an average height somewhere around the 5ft mark, she still stands out as being particularly tiny (you don’t want to see this band when they play on the floor), and her high tempo technically proficient playing drives the band, hitting 16ths, displaying incredible tightness and an almost manic presence at centre stage.
Essentially this is the formula Nisennenmondai employ. Layer the guitar lines one at a time, followed by drums or bass, with whoever is left coming in third; it’s transfixing. Each part filling itself out the course of the song, adding fills, complications, intricacies; you hear the songs as they get constructed. This what ESG might have sounded like if they were into post punk, a sort of ‘no-wave’ disco with those same grooves. Forget about all the bands who peddled derivative ‘nu-rave’, this is what dance music sounds like played by a band. It’s hypnotizing, elongated, and repetitive (in the good sense); building to something verging on euphoric, taking control of you, something you can loose yourself in. You have to move. This is dance music. . .
read more and see the photos: http://www.whatisthegrain.com/2009/07/nisennenmondai-the-luminaire-london-200709/