Anyone familiar with BO NINGEN’s previous releases may have fastened their seatbelt and put on a crash helmet before pushing play on ‘Minimal’ only to find the only health and safety hazard was from discloating a jaw that had fallen too quickly. The coruscating clash of buzz saw guitars, alternate universe funk, metronomic drum patterns, atonal dance of vocals over instruments or the psych-swirl of a riff-driven wig out have been paused in favour of a track that seeks to “emphasize and re-define the meaning of the love song and pop music itself, without using obvious golden rules in its creation”. And it’s a glorious success as this track is lovely. I don’t mean that patronisingly, it’s a giant Lilypad of a track floating across its 3+ minutes with a gentle grace.
It starts with a haunting vocal line over the thud-thud of a bass drum and then, with the introduction of picked out guitar notes, it slowly starts to builds up a lightly motoring beat over which guest vocalist Bobby Gillespie (Primal Scream) talks and sings. The interplay of Japanese and English works beautifully with the repeated Japanese refrain forming a crystal backbone to the song and this anthemic quality is a testament to the construction work of producer/electronic musician Matthew Herbert. Only halfway through does the gentle screech of a treated guitar bubble away under the meniscus of the track without breaking through. Even the threatened maelstrom late in the track never quite crescendos to the level of a song like ‘Gasmask Rabbit’ but trails off leaving only a wisp of guitar evaporating at the very end.
It’s as though JCB had started making delicate porcelain tea sets. Every play has made me like it more and more and I can’t help thinking that BO NINGEN, who are normally a well-armed hornet of a band, have made a captivating butterfly of a track this time out.
The forthcoming album Sudden Fictions is out at the end of June and you can pre-order it here (pre-orders will come with a free art print).
Review by Paul F Cook