Japanese Television and Frank & Beans at The Green Door Store, Brighton, 14th April 2022
On the eve of their debut album being released, Japanese Television demonstrated first hand what they mean by the ominous yet enticing world of ‘Space Surf’ – READERS BEWARE – it’s loud.
A Thursday evening at the iconic Green Door Store is where I was introduced to Japanese Television (JTV), but first were the supporting act of the evening, Irish act Frank & Beans.
The duo, consisting of guitar/vocals and drummer, conducted unearthly sounds from the get-go. They departed with a trudgey first song which paved the way for the remainder of their set. The guitarist produced sounds from his instrument comparable with a nuclear generator about to explode, serious ear bending stuff which has slowly been noticed in more and more live sets.
Notoriously, GDS is a nightmare of a venue to get sounding good, however in this instance I’m more inclined to say that it was the distorted fret muffling and pedal stomping which caused such a raucous sound. New single To Be Fair conquered any ambivalence though, with a slap-back lead vocal and a steady and assertive thud-thud-thud drum beat rolling through the toms on the kit, and I was swayed by the vast noise the pair were creating. With only a few seconds of breathing time between songs, Frank & Beans rattled through their set with such prominence I was left invested in such a power that the Irish duo presented – a blazing start to the evening!
During the interval, promoters Acid Box had someone tucked in the corner of the room with an unusual addition to the layout of the Green Door Store venue. An abundance of coiling cables, vintage pedals, a suitcase full of obscure cassettes and a 6 track mixer. From all this, they produced eerie and atmospheric sound pockets which reverberated around the room. The ambience was perfect, and a nice change up from your bog standard sound engineer’s Spotify playlist (not always the one). However, no one else seemed that bothered by the strange sounds from the looping tape. Saying this, I was potentially the youngest person in the room so perhaps everyone else was either oblivious to it or too cool to care – either way I was very impressed. By this time, the gaps in the room had been filled and everyone was ready to enter the void of music which JTV were about to open up.
As the looping intensified and the lights dimmed, headliners Japanese Television took to the stage. The band took off with such velocity and volume – the rhythm section and synths dominated the sound in the room leaving the surfy guitar parts adrift for the first few songs. When the bassist trod on their distortion pedal it almost tore the room in half, reminiscent of the bass outro in the Post Animal tune Gelatin Mode, only here there’s no vocals and the full instrumental force is felt. It reminded me again of how loud it can get in the Green Door Store, if you like it turned up to 11, strap on your space boots because Japanese Television are sending you intergalactic!
After a couple of space jams, the guitar parts appeared and gave the surfy melody which I had been promised after hearing their recordings. Whether it’s the more laidback 60’s influence of Mosquito Dance Routine or Ghoul Rules with the waltzer-sounding keyboard leading the pack, or the huge bass sounds from creepy number Doppleganger Disco, it was nothing short of experimental trippy brilliance! All together it was a mega blend of psych pudding ready to be devoured by its hipster spectators and dancing mums. Admittedly, not the tightest band I’ve seen but then again, they do say time bends in outer space.
More from Japanese Television here – Space Fruit Vineyard is out now on Tip Top Recordings
Words by Matisse Moretti
Header photo by Luis Kramer
20th April 2022