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Plus-Tech Squeeze Box / PATE | Fakevox / Mo'Psycho (Sur La Plage)
Here, the Sur la Plage label have rounded up some more of Japan's off-kilter pop escapades for your delectation. And two wildly different beasts they are too. Fans of quirky cut-up pop adorned with cutesy roller rink organ sounds, gurgling kitsch synths and girly-girly vocals will be in hog heaven with the debut album release from Plus-Tech Squeeze Box (PSB to you). The radio dial panning of the opening track (Channel No. 17) alerts us to the fact that we are in for some serious eclecticism here. Unfortunately, Eurotrash, Bis, various 70s BBC sitcom themes, Pizzicato 5 and the cast of Deliverance have all been slugging it out in the box marked "eclectic" and no clear winner has yet emerged. PSB are too quirky for their own good, referencing everyone, pleasing no one. The whole world of sound collages is tackled with greater pop precision by Solex, and with more disturbing hilarity by People like us. As the musical landscape morphs from Coldcut style deck wrecking to pure pop to Euro disco to mutant hillbilly hoedowns, no clear direction emerges. Apart from reaching for the button marked "eject".
In the wake PSB's onslaught of funster pop, thank heaven for some filthily over amped guitar throttling. Nobuyuki Ohashi's PATE offer a refreshing dose of dark paisley-pop, thankfully removed from the genre's fey overtones, with the welcome addition of Genta Matsumura (guitar/vox) and Takeshi Suzuki (drums) from cult Tokyo band Chicago Bass bringing some inspired performances to the party. Mo'Psycho is an exploration of the poppier end of the 60s psychedelic wedge. PATE hijack flights by the likes of the West Coast Pop Art Experimental band and Jefferson Airplane (I Wish I Could and Absolutely Nothing) and claim the retarded riffs of Iggy Stooge (Dusty Turned Into Dust) for their own. Indeed a sixties mood pervades the whole album, as the two charming instrumentals (Shinkai Cruise Parts 1 and 2), which attempt to wipe the smile from Brian Wilson's face, will testify. But it is the psychotic axe murdering of Matsumura that saves PATE from being mere revivalists. Lost My Name cooks up a storm of heavy power trio action. Elsewhere, the psych-out guitar torment of opening/closing tracks Suiheisen and Nesiehius (geddit?) recalls the molten power of Kawabata Makoto's axe attacks in the mighty Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO. And the final analysis? Mo'Psycho is equal parts Blue Cheer and Strawberry Alarm Clock and none the worse for it.

Simon Berkovitch
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002

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