Single Review: Japanese Television – Bee Cage

Japanese Television (great name!) formed in 2018 through a shared love of fuzz boxes, Joe Meek and UFOs and together they invented “Space Surf”.

With EP III, the band preferring to work in a cold, dusty, village hall somewhere deep in the wilds of the east British countryside, Japanese Television once again recorded live to an old 8 track machine with The Wytches’ Kristian Bell following the success of EPs I & II which both sold out first and second pressings immediately.

Their 2019 Marc Riley BBC 6 Music Session spread their cosmic, beachy gospel far and wide and they also made ‘Best of the Year’ lists by the likes of Gideon Coe and Amy Lamé. Described by Steve Lamacq as “On a different orbit from everything else’’ and by the NME as “Definitely lives up to its cosmic-beachy billing”, JTV are growing and changing, but their cosmic glow remains as extraordinary as ever.

On September 4th 2020 Japanese Television will release III, their brand new 5 track EP slice of motorik space twang. Once again partnering with Chicago label Tip Top Recordings, EP III is prefaced by ‘Bee Cage’ which is streaming now:

I’m new to Japanese Television, but boy do they make an impression on first listens! They revel in reverb-drenched organ, garage-rock, throbbing bass and pounding, ritualistic drums. Taking in the primal stomp of early garage bands, psychobilly and psych oddballs such as Man or Astroman?, Japanese Television mix in strange, rare instruments and homemade effects pedals to create something as alluring as it is unique.

‘Bee Cage’ starts in an instant with throbbing bass and guitars. These effects create both twinkly effects, otherworldly chimes and effects and cacophonous sounds. The track ebbs and flows under the ‘Loud, Quiet, Loud’ rules augmented with the organ drenched breaks/chorus.

The ‘surf’ feel is definitely evident throughout, yet this description feels like it gives the band a disservice. The sounds they manage to create elevate them far beyond the space/surf/fuzz/label. The sonic resonance and outright euphoric joy Japanese Television manages to create is a welcome tonic in these strange and challenging days, and I can’t wait to hear the rest of the EP once it is released.

Review by Ioan Humphreys:

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