Bo Ningen - Line The Wall
Bo Ningen are quickly and loudly becoming the best kept secret of the UK's underground rock scene, the four-piece made up of ambiguous looking Japanese things, have been releasing music for over 2 years and have been playing almost everywhere in that time, but with their new LP Line The Wall they have taken a career move. The band have become infamous for their outrageously dramatic and loud live performances but while their early releases on record managed to capture their frenetic energy the music was maybe too extreme to garner them the large audience that they deserve.
Line On The Wall has managed to retain that overflowing energy of the band, but this time it is more focused and the LP feels more complete because of it. At Bo Ningen's core they are a band of driving rock riffs with a psychedelic bent and that will probably never change, so in that respect this album will not let their hardcore fanbase down, but surprisingly the band have found a quieter and deeper side to themselves.
This new depth is evident from the beginning 'Soko' kicks off like most of Bo Ningen's past efforts with a buzzing guitar line and then there are swathes of guitar that bring new textures to the bands sound, much in the same style as Stolen Record's label mates Jeff The Brotherhood. The song like the rest of Line The Wall turns into an intense battle between the bands pulsating explosiveness and these new more relaxed layers, and it is a fascinating to listen too.
Of course the bands vocalist Taigen plays a huge role, spitting Japenese lyrics out frantically throughout songs like 'Henkan' and 'Nichijyou' in a distinctly art rock fashion. There is a touch of drama school about the groups live performances and that has also transferred to the new record, mainly through Taigan's spoken word style melodies.
The most interesting part of Line The Wall is the bands krautrock influence, this is particularly evident on the seven-minute long 'Ten to Sen', where for the first time in their career Bo Ningen seem to relax with a slow starting intro. Taigen sings softly over a quietly discordant guitar, because this seems so out of character you almost expect the tone of the song to change and a deep thud of guitar to kick in but it never comes, and its 7 minutes of surprisingly non anarchic music. As if the band couldn't contain themselves the next track 'Shin Ichi' is about as wild as they could get on record, whirring guitar and a pounding drumbeat.
Before a 9-minute burst of Black Sabbath style rock in 'Daikasiei Part 2' Line On The Wall ends strangely with another quieter moment. The final song 'Natsu No Nioi' begins in hushed quiet and only rises to some kind of spooky lullaby by its finish.
Whilst it may not be what Bo Ningen's fans expected, Line On The Wall sees a truly innovative band finding their feet and injecting some much needed excitement into rock and roll.
Purchase and listen
A photo review of Bo Ningen at The Portland Arms, Cambridge by Valerio Berdini. [read more]
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