Comprised of Taigen Kawabe (bass/ vocals), Yuki Tsujii (guitar), Kohhei Matsuda (guitar) and Monchan Monna (drums), Bo Ningen is a Japanese quartet that has begun to gain an international following for their unique brand of what many critics and journalists have dubbed “acid punk” which is heavily influenced by Japan’s legacy of eccentric psych rock, noise rock, Black Sabbath and Nirvana. Interestingly, the band formed when it’s founding members, Taigen and Kokhei met while playing in different bands on the same bill — and they quickly discovered a kindred spirit in each other, as they had both desired to leave the traditional notions of rock behind and do something extremely weird. Tsujii and Monna joined the band with the same intention — especially after catching the duo play their almost indescribable yet punishing aural assault.
Now based in London, the band’s latest effort III reveals quite a bit of growth for the quartet, as they were able to spend much more time focusing on the album’s overall production and songwriting in a way that they weren’t able to previously do. And featuring a collaboration with Jehnny Beth of Savages, III also marks the first time that Bo Ningen has lyrics even partially sung in English.
In fact, Jehnny Beth’s collaboration on Bo Ningen’s latest album may have fostered arguably one of the most interesting and unusual collaborations of the past five years or so. You see, November 14th will mark the release date of Bo Ningen’s collaborative album with Savages, titled Words For the Blind. The album which consists of one 37 minute long track features both colliding and intertwining lyrics and words sung in Japanese and French simultaneously by Taigen Kawabe and Savages’ Jehnny Beth. And it’s paired with forceful and clashing guitars with the end result being a sort of sonic poem that builds up into a furious intensity before quietly fading away.
So interestingly, the concept behind these two bands unique collaboration comes from Hugo Ball’s Cabaret Voltaire – a club that was central to many of the experimental performances of the Dadaist movement; in fact, many of those performances experimented with sound poetry and simultaneously poetry in fashion similar to this collaboration.
As both bands were rehearsing the material that would be come Words For The Blind, they also began to envision how exactly they’d perform it. And as Savages’ Gemma Thompson describes the set up, “we imagine a stage in a large u-shape to contain as much of the audience as possible in the centre. The two drummers next to each other at the ‘bottom’ of the u, then leading around symmetrically (facing each other): guitarists, bassists and singers at the tips of the u-shape. Bo Ningen have a guitar extra, so we hang one from the ceiling to hit as you would a gong. Eventually we fix a date and a space for what we believe is a one-off performance … ” The trailer for the album was shot during this one-time performance and it should give you a sense of the profoundly strange and captivating beauty of this collaboration.