photo manipulation & text by nacrowe
one of the things i noticed almost immediately during my yearlong stay in YOKOHAMA a few years back was the RIGID SOCIAL FORMALITIES and FORCED POLITENESS of TRADITIONAL JAPANESE CULTURE. for some foreign visitors this state of affairs is a plus and a REFRESHING departure from WESTERN informalities and our INGRAINED SOLIPSISM. it only takes a second to be POLITE and by and large the JAPANESE take that second. but its CULTURALLY enforced and the INTENTIONALITY is not wholly AUTHENTIC if that makes any sense.
i was so relieved after my first month teaching in YOKOHAMA when my JAPANESE coworkers began lightly insulting and making fun me. it felt like a social barrier had finally been crossed where they werent forced to be so POLITE all the time. but what stayed with me throughout my time was how JAPANESE WOMEN were effected by this CULTURE of SILENT POLITENESS. in their CULTURE there is a MASSIVE YOUTH MOVEMENT encompassing and promoting all things YOUNG, CUTE and KAWAII. but what happens when one ages out of that? JAPAN has one of the lowest global birthrates, only surpassed by their neighbor SOUTH KOREA. it felt to an outsider like one was a prisoner to their own GENDER, which felt like a sorry CLAUSTROPHOBIC trap.
i say all this to contextualize the UNIQUE listening experience of KYOTO's OTOBOKE BEAVER, which was beyond THRILLING as their songs pedal between SWEET, HARMONIC interludes with PITCH-PERFECT MELODIC singing and CHAOTIC, HARSH, DISCORDANT noise a la MELT-BANANA and BIG BLACK. their music feels like a PRIMAL SCREAM that effectively sheds the NICETIES of a REDUCTIVE JAPANESE FEMININITY that renders them prisoner to ANACHRONISTIC CULTURAL EXPECTATIONS. it is nothing short of a REVELATION and one of the most EXCITING things ive heard in years.
definitely worth checking out.