Nisennenmondai – Destination Tokyo

January 01, 1970



who’s heard Shonen Knife knows what kind of music Japanese all-women rock trios
make: simple, scruffy, and *kawaii*. (That last word, central to J-pop culture,
means “cute.”) Nisennenmondai is none of those things, except
possibly simple. But the all-instrumental band’s pulsing compositions are
performed with precision and stamina that belies their elementary structures.
If the four long pieces on Destination
aren’t exactly Mozart, they’re a lot more than transpacific
“Blitzkrieg Bop.”


group formed in Tokyo
in 1999, on the verge of Y2K, which explains their

Ni sen nen mondai = “two thousand year problem.” Influenced by the
usual post-punk, Krautrock and minimalist precursors, the three musicians
construct taut, brisk round trips. (Destination? Where they started.) Although
the band’s recorded sound has gotten cleaner over the years, the propulsiveness
of drummer Sayaka Himeno and bassist Yuri Zaikawa’s attack remains constant.


Destination Tokyo credits only three
instruments, and was reportedly recorded in a single-take, live-in-the-studio
session. The band expands its palette with whooshing synth on the Neu!-like
title track, and Masako Takada seems to be playing her guitar with a bow on
“Souzousuru Neji” (“Imagine a Screw”). Most remarkable is
the stark yet intricate “Mirrorball,” which sounds as if it has
multiple bass and guitar parts. There’s also a track titled “Disco,”
but the principal thing Nisennenmondai shares with dance music is
relentlessness. The band can really sweat a groove, but the result is more Mudd
Club than Studio 54.


Standout Tracks: “Mirrorball,” “Souzousuru Neji” MARK JENKINS




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