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Western Influence and History of Japanese Rock

Essay by review  •  November 23, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,116 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,224 Views

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Since the begging of the "Rock Revolution" in Europe and the United States, rock musicians such as the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, and Cream toured constantly all over the world. This touring led to many effects in the countries and cultures they went to and helped pave the way for music to change in these regions. Japan has developed into a top five market for rock and heavy metal music, but it was these influences that created a similar but distinctive sound.

Just like western rock music, Japanese rock music evolved in a similar fashion. The psychedelic rock scene was the first western import into Japan and was brought to them by many cover bands and the successful band in the 1970's the Jack's. Because of the endless cover bands and original acts, the first documented Japanese rock band was formed; Hadaka no Rallizes (Scaruffi). This heavy guitar-based psychedelic band had their beginnings at Kyoto University in late 1967 with their first gig in 1968. While their recordings from this early period are still relatively controlled their live shows reputedly featured massive volume and the use of strobe lights and mirror balls to extreme levels. Obviously this brings to mind comparisons with the Velvet Underground and their Plastic Exploding Inevitable as well as Jefferson Airplane (Noise).

Just as many rock bands in the western part of the world were, Hadaka no Rallizes also was involved with revolutionary causes. This support for revolutionary causes ran deep with the band, especially with original member Wakabayashi (Noise). This western view of freedom to speak in their music motivated the band even more and got them involved in the 1970 Yodo-Go incident where members of the Japanese Red Army hijacked a Japanese airliner to North Korea. Rumor has it that guitarist/group leader Mizutani Takashi was involved on some level with the Japanese Read Army and was asked to take part in the hijacking. Some years later the band were reported as putting on a concert on the grounds of a junior high school, playing through 30 meter high speaker stacks and passing out copies of texts by Hegel, Lenin, Che Guevara, Cervantes, Nietzsche and Ed Sanders to those present (Noise), which only adds to their western influence for protest rock.

While Japanese rock and western rock were very similar and evolved in the same fashion, a major break begun when the alternative "grunge" scene hit the United States and came over seas in the early 90's. The Japanese couldn't relate to that kind of music and didn't understand where it came from, but were enticed by the simple cords and raunchy sounds that were being made. While alternative was being created in the United States, in Japan a new sound that was similar yet very different was being created (Scaruffi). Japan's rock was more than "alternative": it was "anti". A brutal passion for chaos and noise led to "noise-core", the radical sound of Japan's holy triad (Scaruffi). The most popular and successful band was The Boredoms, who eventually came over seas to North America to sign with a Canadian record label. The Boredoms captured all the intensity of their live improvisations and learned from them, improving every discovered noise and building on them layering into them with vocal harmonies and parodies. This new development of Japanese noise-core broke many unspoken musical rules such as structure and tone that are implemented by western cultures (Boredoms). By creating their music, noise-core is still very popular today. While it's not popular in western cultures, this music is one of the most popular and recognizable in Japan. Noise-core includes high energy concerts that are very violent and have been compared to the punk movement in the early 80's in western societies.

With the evolution of rock in Japan, it was only a matter of time before the American crazed metal music eventually made it over seas to Japan. In Japan, which is typically a soft spoken very respectable society; metal music gave this society a voice that was unheard of before. The most famous of these metal bands to come out of Japan was Boris whose terrifying monoliths indulged in lengthy, dark and extremely dense drones (Scaruffi). With the American metal influencing



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