Japanese Fighting Fish – Swimming with Piranhas

Photo by Scott M Salt Photography

Photo by Scott M Salt Photography

The highly anticipated third album from British aural dramatists  Japanese Fighting Fish is uncaged this week, a release which not only confirms that there is no other proposal like the London based quartet but shows the band hitting another plateau in their breath-taking sound and invention. There are few with the musical craft and adventure to match an imagination as daring as it is inimitable but Japanese Fighting Fish have it all in abundance and in full enthralling flow within Swimming with Piranhas.

Formed in Leeds in 2009, Japanese Fighting Fish had a great many hooked, including us, by the release of debut album Just Before We Go MAD two years later. A release experimenting with South American rhythms as raw vocals and dirty guitars played, its compelling success was eclipsed by its successor, the punk infused Day Bombs of 2011. Releases and years have seen the band draw comparisons to the likes of Faith No More, System of a Down, QOTSA, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primus, and Frank Zappa, but as evidenced once more by their latest triumph,  Japanese Fighting Fish really do stand alone in character and sound. Mastered by Tim Young (Massive Attack, The Clash, Sex Pistols, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Elbow, and The Beatles ‘Love’ Album), Swimming with Piranhas is the band at its most eclectic yet and offering a collection of funk infested, theatrical exploits; quite simply rock and roll with the devilry and boldness of creative insanity.

Inspired in title by the real life wild experiences of vocalist Karlost Thompson and drummer Al Sweetman whilst staying in Ecuador with a Quechan tribe where they took a dip in the Amazon River, Swimming with Piranhas has ears and imagination swiftly gripped with its opening title track. A lone spicy groove teases first, it soon joined by broader sonic sighs and boisterous rhythms as the song increasingly expands into a hip swinging, rhythmically riveting magnet. Once the familiar, ever expressive and captivating tones of Karlost complete the line-up of creative cast, the imagination is taken on a beguiling off kilter ride. With kinetic beats and baroque scented organ shaped theatre adding to the ever shifting gait and mood of the encounter, the opener is sheer captivating as fiery and infectious as it is thought provoking and a great sign of things to come.

art_RingMasterReviewThe excellent start continues and hits another level with Egyptian Sunrise, the song a sultry tango of exotic mystique upon the driving throaty bassline of Matt McGuinness and the swinging bait of Sweetman. Impossible to resist getting physically involved, the song leads the body a merry dance with the imagination caught up in the creative tones and lyrical incitement of Karlost. Also swathed in the equally suggestive invention of Gareth Frederik Ellmer’s guitar, the song is a mouth-watering exploit soon matched in creative theatre by Provocative Cat. Funky with Parisian hues, the song flirts and dances with ears as the bass masterfully groans and Karlost paints the imagination like a vaudevillian showman.

New single For Queen Marilyn comes next, sauntering in on a raw riff and rumbling beats as vocals spread their instinctive drama and ascending energy. Soon its rapacious rock ‘n’ roll is ablaze with intensity amidst a hearty roar, switching between calm and volatile waters before making way for Close The Gate. An encounter which seems to mellow as it reaches climactic moments and erupts when you expect it to slip into alluring calms, the unpredictable song is a twisted treat but one soon outshone by previous single U Ain’t Gonna Win This. An exploration of split personalities also making a “homage to boxing greats like Ali, and Rocky “, the song is a fleet footed shuffle with another deeply contagious gurning  bassline from McGuinness courting the vocal waltz of Karlost and band. Taking addiction to a fresh level, the track mixes sweltering melodies and grungy textures with sonic guitar splatters and a virulent carnival-esque bounce.

Hard To Resist is a matching enslavement of body and appetite, its lazy yet snarling bass swing and gripping croon just two of the irresistible elements in what must be the next single. The track is glorious, reminding of little know eighties band, Zanti Misfitz as it throws its creative temptation around. A slip into a deranged XTC like pasture only adds to the fun and increasing seduction too.

Another funk sculpted adventure follows in the shape of I Got Time; its Red Hot Chili Peppers like romp infused with a Talking Heads like prowess, while On A Fall sonically shimmers as the eager beats of Sweetman fuel the pulsating balladry of voice and Ellmer’s resonating guitar enterprise. Increasingly more provocative and gripping with every listen, the track is yet another thrilling twist in the varying style and sound within Swimming with Piranhas.

The album is brought to an equally exciting and inventive close by firstly Dr. No-Sense and its noir spiced and increasingly bedlamic intensity. It is followed by the similarly deranged but skilfully reined imagination and creative resourcefulness of I Caught You Wandering for a bewitching end to another superb offering from Japanese Fighting Fish. Swimming with Piranhas takes the band and their one of a kind proposition to a whole new plateau, not just for them but for the British rock scene. Why Japanese Fighting Fish is not a name on so many more eager lips already is a bit of a mystery, now they might just be with this beast of a proposal doing the persuading.

Swimming with Piranhas is released 17th June across most online stores.

http://www.japanesefightingfish.co.uk/    https://www.facebook.com/Japanesefightingfishuk   https://twitter.com/jffuk

Pete RingMaster 17/06/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright

Suzerain – Identity

Suzerain_RingMasterReview

Certainly long awaited and definitely highly anticipated, the second album from British alternative/electro rockers Suzerain confirms the London quintet as one of the country’s brightest and most compelling propositions. Twelve tracks which are as eclectic as they are imaginative but firmly set in the distinct Suzerain sound, Identity is aural magnetism sure to eclipse the success, as it does the impressive qualities, of debut album Midnight In The Drawn City of 2011 and the A Mirror Now EP released a year later.

Recorded over the best parts of 2014 and 2015 producer Steve Lyon (Depeche Mode, The Cure, Siouxsie Sioux), Identity is a brooding bundle of songs built on social and emotive drama and wrapped in cinematic atmospherics and adventure. It is also the provider of some of the most virulently catchy encounters likely to be heard this year among other captivating proposals which simply devout the imagination for matching success.

Identity opens up with its title track, a brief and gentle yet dystopian hued instrumental which has thoughts provoked before ears and appetite become enthralled by the following Anytime. The fact the song carries, from its first evocative breath, a creative nature and drama very reminiscent of brilliant eighties band Comsat Angels does it no harm at all; rampant rhythms and the melancholic lure of vocalist Thomas Pether adding to the irresistible temptation on offer. With the bass of Mike Smith as dramatically vocal as the rolling beats of Ben Howe, the song grips attention, tempting and enslaving within its first minute of dramatically emotive seduction.

Dark Dark has the unenviable task of following the outstanding track, taking the challenge successfully in its creative hands as fizzing keys from Matt Constantine hug the distinct and expressive tones of Pether. Melodies proceed to blossom in the dark shadows lining the track, rhythms again a pungent scent in the heady and enjoyably imposing rock ‘n’ roll of the song. Increasingly more off-kilter, bordering on deranged with each passing minute as keys bring fresh discord, the band uncages already another major pinnacle in Identity, backing it up with equal invention through I Know You So Well. Swiftly shaped by the suggestive chords and melodies of guitarist Rich Summers as rhythmic drama again provides a riveting skeleton to the sonic theatre of Summers and Constantine, the song even with its unique character again reminds of the earlier mentioned Sheffield hailing post punk band, only beguiling with its sombre yet vibrant croon.

ART_RingMasterReviewThe brilliant Good Day steps up next; a track which lit up the band’s last EP and still dominates ears and lusty pleasure with its imaginative confrontation. Jabbing beats are a relentless lure, their attitude matched by the snarl of Pether’s vocals and the volatile simmer and melodic trespass of the keys. A cauldron of enterprise bubbling with volcanic energy, the song alone puts Suzerain at the top table of British rock bands, and as those before it do, is soon backed up by the likes of Frenzy and Edging Out. The first of the pair is a mellower caress on the ear but just as rich in emotive shadows and melodic drama while the second has an industrial air around its similar heart sharing lyrical and aural tenderness. Both songs but especially the latter, has a hint of Nine Inch Nails to their emotive atmospheres as the album shows further variety in its broadening adventure.

The excellent pop infected Always strolls in next, bubbling keys and firm beats skirting the warm tones of Pether as a contagious enterprise simmers and bursts within ears. As always, there is an underlying shadow to emotion and invention which adds darker colour to contrast the lighter shades revelling in the song’s bold catchiness and floating harmonies. There is no resisting its charm and tempting before it makes way for the gorgeous theatre of Palm Of Her Hand. Bass and drums are in full noir fuelled flow as vocals and keys almost punch their respective words and melodies into the imagination. Taking best track honours, it is anthemic alchemy with a hint of Muse to it, though it is hard to remember that band making as big an impact as this with any song in recent years.

The sombre slightly baroque balladry of 200 slows the energy of the album but not its raw lure, especially with the melancholic strains of Constantine’s cello sighing in ears as a stark landscape, emotionally and suggestively, is laid. From its low key but potent proposition, Black & White brews its own brooding landscape of voice, emotion, and aural endeavour next with rhythms again providing striking bait.

Closing with the arresting might of Hide Yourself, rhythms once more a magnetic seizing of ears and appetite matched in creative and persuasive kind by the sonic fascination cast by guitars and keys as Pether transfixes, Identity never misses a beat in thrilling and disarming the senses. Easily the Suzerain’s finest hour to date, the album is also one of the most impressive moments for UK rock ‘n’ roll this year so far with few encounters destined to rival it ahead we suspect.

Identity is out now via BrainZone/Republic of Music.

http://www.suzerainmusic.com/   https://www.facebook.com/suzerainmusic   https://twitter.com/suzerainmusic

Pete Ringmaster 16/06/2016

Copyright RingMaster: MyFreeCopyright