Wednesday, May 23, 2012

VA - Here Comes The Bottom Line... Vol. 2 [2006]

Ah, number two. This was some time after the first (around two years) and had a different focus than the previous one. Although the theme of Impulse Records' Here Comes the Bottom Line... seems to really just be about getting great Japanese bands together, each one seems to have a stylistic focus too. The first was a sort of melodic hardcore/screamo/emo mash-up. This one is more about noisy bands and emo bands. You've got the expansive and sneaky Bright and Dark Side next to the wild and chaotic Fountain of Rich Aroma. There's even a solid noise track with 斜陽 (sorry, won't bother translating it). The tying thread, like the first, is that this is the Japanese underground. Aki doesn't collect every band in this series. He would be almost to the hundreds by now. What he does try to capture is the spirit, the ethics of what makes the underground unique. Sometimes its just personal. Most, if not all of these bands have played shows with all the others. They probably know most of the members by name. Styles aside, this is a cohesive scene. And maybe that's the theme of each, he looks at one scene. I'm not sure if many of these bands have played shows with Mule or Minoritybluesband, from the first compilation, so maybe that's it. 

I can see this as also a sort of level setting, to define what makes these bands different. As an outsider to Japan, I don't normally play the scene card. I tend to evaluate bands based purely on their sound, not caring who they play with or what label they're on. And not that those things matter, necessarily, but I think they're indicative of the character and ethics of said band. There's a specific scenario that outlines this point perfectly. Zankyo Records is a slightly prolific label in Japan that releases music in the emo, and sometimes screamo, genres. If you listened to folio and, say, 3nd or The Cabs, you can see a lot of similarities. But, those bands would rarely, if ever, play together in Japan. The reason being, I can only ascertain from what I can see, is that folio is an indie or DIY band, and The Cabs are hoping to "make it big." After the success of 9mm Parabellum Bullet, who were on Zankyo before signing to Sony, it seems that becoming popular while playing indie music with screaming is a real possibility. This is really about the sound of music separated from the reasons that sound was developed. In some ways, that is also the problem with the internet spreading DIY music. Most of the time only the music is communicated, separated from the context that music was created in.

So, these compilations, while not explicitly communicating a message in their packaging, are about the DIY culture and what it means. If so, then it's really some sort of allegorical biography of Aki himself, because the dude embodies what is great about this culture. Playing in about 10 bands, being a focal point and supporter of the DIY scene. His most recent Impulse Fest is a perfect example of his commitment to the scene outside of a specific genre. Do yourself a favor and get into Impulse Records.

This compilation is still available a few places, but hey(!), you can pick it up in the States from me, so DO IT! 
And listen at the link below.

For comparison. Folio:

and The Cabs:

1. Shoutmoskva - Missing? or Nothing?
2. Fountain of Rich Aroma - A View
3. Bright And Dark Side - Mirror
4. Same Place Empty - Consciousness That Was Let Loose
5. Paluka - 荒唐無稽
6. デラシネ - Business For Your Music 10,000,000
7. 斜陽 - 無題
8. Alan Smithee - Stalker
9. 33/45 - 連鎖、共鳴シ続ケル鐘
10. Test Mustard Disco - Irresponsibility
11. R3-N7 - クソッタレ

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