Thursday, 13 September 2018

Insects

After a hectic weekend, it’s been a quiet few days here at Call And Response, with me mostly focusing on writing some articles and making preparations for the new album by Nagoya-based noise-rock band Velvet Ants.

I’ve started using the term “noise-rock” more these days because all the other words people use to describe the kinds of music Call And Response deals in are such a jumble of overlapping terms and hardly anyone really knows what any of them mean. How is postpunk different from no wave? How much overlap is there between post-rock, math rock and post-hardcore? We end up piling on new terms to the point where it becomes incomprehensible. Noise-rock, on the other hand, is at least pretty simple in comparison: it recognisably contains some of the features of rock music, but it has a noisier, more dissonant take on them. All I need to do now is get the rest of the world, or at least Japan, to join me in making all our lives a bit easier and less complicated.

Anyway, the Velvet Ants album is called Entomological Souvenirs I, named after the series of insect studies by French naturalist Jean Henri Fabre. The band developed the six tracks through a series of jam sessions, but as the album came together decided that each track could be seen as expressing the feeling of a different kind of bug. Perhaps feeding into this is the fact that the band have two guitarists but no bassist, which gives their music a spindly edge, tilted towards treble and mid (although plenty heavy when they want to be). I posted a sample track from it on Soundcloud a couple of weeks ago, initially mis-labelling it Centipede before the band noticed that the track was actually Wasp. It covers a good range of the band’s sound anyway, so I think it’s a pretty solid introduction to them.



Since they don’t have a music video yet, I decided to make a short preview or trailer of the album to give people a sense of what’s going on in it and to give the band something to share. Initially, what I thought of doing was downloading clips of the relevant insects and using them to represent the tracks. I did a quick search of “centipede” and just glancing at the first page of results made it pretty clear that anyone even slightly squeamish about terrifying, many-limbed insects, arachnoids and whatevers was going to have a hard time with a fully bug-focused video.

Instead, I decided to take a more oblique approach, digging out clips of machines that to me evoked in some way each track’s patron insect. The final track, Cicada, was the most difficult one for me, because I suspect a lot of people (at least in the UK, where I’m from, don’t really have a clear image of what a cicada looks like. They’re just sort of oval shaped and their main defining feature is the constant, screeching noise they make, so I went with something that looks like it sounds like a cicada, if that makes sense. Anyway, here’s the video:



The current stage of the process with the album is the most depressing one though. With the release next week, I’m currently at the final stage of hassling uninterested record/CD shops to stock my stuff and feeling every unreturned email and rejection as a personal rejection of Call And Response’s whole project. Anyway, that whole process is an ongoing battle and one I don’t have the option of opting out of, being basically the only staff of the label. If I ever quit music, it’ll be record stores who drive me to it though.

On the positive side, the Velvet Ants release party at Nagoya Spazio Rita looks like being an excellent event. I’m planning on taking an overnight trip there to celebrate with them. The fantastic and brutal Jailbird Y are coming from Hiroshima, spindly new wave oddballs Compact Club are heading over from Tokyo, fantastic local Nagoya bands Free City Noise and Noiseconcrete x 3chi5 are also playing, along with Osaka-based Nehan, who are the only band I don’t know in the lineup and am thus very interested in seeing. Meanwhile, the Tokyo show they’re playing in December is shaping up to be epic.


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