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Pseudo Nippon – Universal Pork Tai Chi


This started so well. Opening track “Gobachi” lets orie(m)ental toy tunes sumo each other out of the ring, while some crazy sub-Venetian Snares drums roll. It’s fresh (like a babywipe), funny (like someone falling down the stairs), even a little funky (as in Gibbon) and had me and the kids dancing our hair off. It’s silly and relentless (the cover has a guy – I’m guessing this is Pseudo Nippon himself – with a fried egg on his head) but then, well, it kind of loses heart.

By track two we’re into slightly dull electronic duck calls and spoken/chanting (not really the good kind of chanting, the kind you throw bread at from the window at four in the morning when your head feels like a kicked bucket of cumin) which mixes (or rather exists alongside) call and response drones and buzzes that might almost reference The Normal, but a Normal sans Ballard and plus something a bit… meh. The pattern above is then repeated, but at a slower tempo. By “I’m on top of you” it’s got to a drawl and even intoning the title in a vaguely sinister, very desperate way while plinky plonk Asian patterns wind down won’t quite do it…. “Temple of Shed” sounds like the odd gamelan of side 2 of Psychic TV’s Themes 3 (you know, the one where Monte Cazazza’s going on about too much cocaine and cupcakes) but despite some pretty motifs and some distinctly odd, almost unheard, gulping it doesn’t last long enough (though there’s a remix/reprise at the end) and we’re soon back into the quirk.

I sort of want to like this but I’m finding it difficult. It’s too mannered, too self-consciously quirky and too unwilling to just let the fuck go. The songs all feel like they could bend off into Japanese meltdown at any moment but, well, they don’t. It doesn’t really go anywhere, just sits in the corner of the room, polite and respectful, where it ought to be chucking popcorn and sucking on a Nitrous Oxide pipe. It feels like this was intended to be way more fun. It feels like it should be the album you put on when you want to pull a smile from your guests faces, make them dance like the drunks they are. But… the songs all end up sounding like the tired pop spasms of an ageing karaoke king; sort of hitting the notes, sort of getting it wrong, but all in a controlled, “Look at me, Mum!” way.

Still like the first track though…


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