LIVE REPORTRED MARQUEE7/28 SUN
Susumu Hirasawa + EJIN
Lightning and lazers
Susumu Hirasawa is a legend you may not have heard of. Founder of P-Model, he has gone from being at the forefront of Japanese New Music to the forefront of Japanese electronica ( and other places in between), and still remains relevant. The absolutely enthralled crowd at Sunday night’s Susumu Hirasawa and Ejin show attests to this.
Now… take a guy with a pedigree like this, who happens to also look like a mad scientist, and put him on stage behind an arachnoid synth rack with Star Trek: The Next Generation green laser light rigs which are somehow an optical instrument I have never heard of. Also flank him with dual guitar players (SSHO and TAZZ) in white plague-era bird masks and have them perform what can be best described as electronic pop opera. Do you want more?
When he brings out his own guitar the show really moves, an almost Japanese industrial sound from a bygone era. This is cool. And inspiring. And absolutely packing the Red Marquee. Hirasawa’s singing is high and trilling, operatic and theatrical. Hell, the whole thing is pretty theatrical.
It was a theater the crowd knew by heart. They knew where and when to clap, they knew the big beats by heart. Eating it up is an understatement. The crowd was going wild for this weird show. And for good reason.
Beyond the theatricality, the music itself had a heavy pulsing electronic beat deep enough to shake the floor, but also solid and accessible song structure, melody and movement to separate it from a typical ‘electronic’ show. Guitars knew when to be there and when not to, and more importantly how to be there when they were. Harmonies when harmonies fit, rhythm guitar when it fit, shredding when it fit. The songs fit together like beautiful jagged puzzle pieces. And Hirasawa has been around long enough and experimented musically enough to know how to do them all together. In fact it sounded a little bit like Sparks at their most conceptual at moments…
Speaking of Sparks, remember earlier when I asked if you wanted more? How about a Tesla coil? Yeah, as if at this point the diabolical villain in a science fiction film vibe wasn’t enough, halfway through the set a Tesla coil erupted in a sea of controlled musical lightning bolts, manipulated through an ‘instrument weilded by one of Enin’s plague birds’. If you are going to put on a show, do it with lasers and lightning bolts.
This was by far the most unpredictably well received and weird show I experienced over the weekend. My goodness it was good.