Ki – Japan Suicide (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Getting old is no fun, but it isn’t all bad. All of those years listening to music enables us more aged types to have a long field of reference when discussing and dissecting the new music of today. That music is cyclical might seem like a cliche but it isn’t, all musicians creating their own sound are going to be beholden to the sounds which they have absorbed, the music that they have been influenced by and that is always going to be heard in their songs by anyone with an astute ear and a long memory…people like me I guess. They also say that the re-cycle loop for the reemergence of styles and scenes is about 30 years which means that there are a whole collection of bands coming through today who are channelling the dark and delicious sounds of my post-punk formative years. And of those bands Japan Suicide has to be one of the best.

One of the other advantages of these revivalist loops is that the new, emerging version of the past gets a chance to filter out the excess sonic baggage, to evolve those sounds by reinventing them with a contemporary ear and again that is what Japan Suicide excels at. They lean towards the darker end of that post punk melting pot but thankfully swerve the pretentious theatrics of the likes of The Mission or The Nephilim  and ground themselves in the more earthly, urban and honest sounds of Joy Division and the early days of The Cure.

But this is no pastiche of the past, no mere plundering of found sounds, and Ki is certainly the sound of a modern band, one certainly tipping their hats to the past but also brilliantly forging ahead with their own signature sound whilst using bands such as Interpol and The Editors as stepping stones and inspiration too. Empire kicks things off in a cavernous, doom laden fashion, all sludgy riffs and glacial beats but things quickly snap up a gear. Mishima is a chiming, shimmering blend of growling bass lines and cinematic riffs, The Devil They Know is a collection of shattered sonics held together by tribal beats, Dance For You is the sound of brooding synths and drifting vocals and One Day The Black Will Swallow The Red is a brilliant weave of dark anthemics and underground grooves.

If you liked Santa Sangre, then this comes from a similar place, but seems to offer a wider version of their sound, the depths are deeper, the crescendos more sky-scrapping. It offers moments of great intensity as well as groovesome dance-rock flashes of inspiration, it pulses with dark intent but also has room for drifting atmosphere and otherworldliness. In short, existing fans will find it totally to their tastes and those coming new to the band will join the story at the bands most broodingly elegant moment to date. 

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