Synchronized dancing, cute sing-along vocals related to chocolate or girls in elevators. It’s great and all, but there are more female artists in Japan who are not interested in putting on a cute outfit, learning dance moves and being in the next idol group. There are girls doing harsher, darker, more dangerous styles of music in Japan. Here are a few who are slaves to the grind.
Anti Itch Cream
Donning a winter hat pulled down across her face with the eyes cut out, executioner style (and holes for her hair too) is the experimental grind musician known as Anti Itch Cream. The one-woman-band is made up of muti-instrumentalist (vocals, guitar, drums and noises) Kae Takashi, who shreds guitar over fragmented, glitchy drum tracks whilst barking unspeakable fury. The VHS/low fi/found recording approach to the music makes for an uncomfortable listening experience, as a lot of noise is – but the fact that it is being produced by Takashi, sitting there in her mask, brings it down into a frightening reality. You’ve got to admire the tenacity to commit to abrasiveness. Pick up her recent split releases with Belgium’s Hyperacusis or Florida’s Sloth if you have the itch.
Since 1992, Melt-Banana have been smashing the preconceived rules of grindcore like it was a single digit. They blend electronica and noise with pop structures to make something which would make purists blush, but for those with their musical boundaries set out of the solar system, this banana split is one they’ll be eating for dessert often. Live, you will now find them as a two piece, without the aid of a live drummer or bass player – instead opting for the synthetic percussive elements controlled by vocalist Yasuko Onuki and multi-pedalled guitarist Ichiro Agata. The band has had a long history with Western brothers and sisters in grind, including Napalm Death, whom they have played with several times for the Extreme the Dojo concerts within Japan.
Flagitious Idiosyncrasy In The Dilapidation
Try to say their name ONCE fast. This all-grind band burst through the abscesses in 2001 and have released two full length LPs thus-far, their self-titled debut and 2013’s Wallow. Musically, this is off the rails without any brakes grind which has festered under a cloud of soot, not unlike a female Insect Warfare. There are no smirks here – being serious in its level of brutality and filthiness which sounds like it hurts to perform. The band has made their mark among grind peers at such festival as Obscene Extreme (which is an achievement any aspiring grind band should wish to check off). Check out the vocalist Makiko’s other band called Monnier for more dilapidated noisescapes.
The triad of Kunine on vocals Kuzuha on guitar and Jiro on drums have curated a noisy, jazzy, freestyle form of grind which, like noise, aims to break the listener free of music’s inhibitions. The song lengths are kept short, with their debut album Wounds containing 23 tracks with the longest being 1:24 – hey, they don’t get paid by the hour. Each song being like a single stab to the ear, once the album finishes with the fittingly titled “Grace Period”, you might be looking for medical attention. The band challenges the audience's sense of “self” visually, with “crossdress guitarist” Kuzuha crunching gender classifications while abusing that pink B.C. Rich Warlock as if it ripped the band off.
Remember what I said about dancing in the intro paragraph? Well, forget it. In the video for Grave Grinder’s “No. 1 Japanese Porn Ninja”, the three-piece band, outfitted in ninja costumes, does just that. Who could blame them? This is “happy gore grind” made for a sewer square-dance. After releasing their Hentai in the E.U. EP back in 2013, they went on hiatus. They recently came back into the fray via the “Ninja” video in 2020, and the world couldn’t be more ready. They take pride in the “no effects pig squeal” performed by the talented Mai. Perhaps the idol bands shout invite her onto a song for a duet sometime.