February 26, 2005

My Way My Love "Hypnotic Suggestion: 01"

In my review of Mono’s Walking Cloud and Deep Red Sky, Flag Fluttered and The Sun Shined, I wrote that the best Japanese bands “possess an uncanny ability to synthesize the best ideas of a genre’s key artists into a composite whole that transcends mere ‘Recommended If You Like’ mimicry.” Tokyo trio My Way My Love is an exception that proves the rule. Having once played with Mono guitarist Taakira Goto in a previous band called the Cimons, you’d think that MYML front man Yukio Murata would know a thing or two about stylistic synthesis. Unfortunately, a prestigious pedigree isn’t a guarantee of quality. On their domestic debut Hypnotic Suggestion: 01, MYML takes its cues from the best of early ‘90s noise-rock (Sonic Youth, Boredoms, Unwound), but their pastiche is often too incoherent and uninspired to recommend.

With a little bit more melody, the album’s first proper song “Super Fresh!” could have been an outtake from Thurston Moore’s Psychic Hearts album. Murata delivers sarcastic spoken rants about food while putting his guitar through serious whammy-bar abuse. On “Ovo,” he imitates the hyper-speed guitar strumming of Daydream Nation. Both of these songs benefit from their energy and brevity, as they rock hard and end in 90 seconds or less. “Captain” runs the White Stripes’ brand of amateurish garage-rock through the wringer. Its out-of-tune bass line and atonal guitar soloing is made even more abrasive by the air-raid sirens weaved into the mix, and that’s even before you get to Murata’s strangled whining on the chorus. “Sound of Gold” is the closest that MYML comes to a ballad. There’s a melody, but it’s moaned more than sung; there’s an acoustic guitar, but it has to fight against an undercurrent of wailing feedback. By the way, these are the songs on the record that I actually LIKE.

More often than not, though, the band’s fetish for noise trips them up. On “Sports” and “’Was Not’ ~ Rock a Cradle,” the band uses radical shifts in recording fidelity to differentiate one idea from another. When “Sports” shifts into double-time, the song stops sounding like it was recorded on an eight-track and starts sounding like it was recorded on a Dictaphone. It’s as if someone was playing a trick on you by turning the equalizer knobs on your stereo all the way down. “Rock a Cradle” starts off sounding like an old four-track recording and progressively drowns itself in tape hiss. Anyone who’s familiar with my reviews knows that I do not consider high fidelity or technical virtuosity prerequisites for making good music; after all, my favorite band IS Guided by Voices (RIP). However, I also think that if a band has access to a recording studio (which MYML does), they should use it, and if they know how to play their instruments (which MYML also does), they should act like it. Intentionally poor musicianship and recording went out of style a long time ago, and somebody needs to give MYML a memo.

Last but not least, Hypnotic Suggestion: 01 has an awful lot of filler for a 30-minute album. Five of the tracks are brief, aimless sound collages, most of which are sequenced long after the band has exhausted all of its good ideas in the “proper” songs. This might be a moot point, though; even if this were a seven-track EP instead of a 13-track album, I still wouldn’t recommend it highly.

--Sean Padilla

Artist Website: http://www.mywaymylove.com
Label Website: http://www.file-13.com

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