Super Junky Monkey’s index: CDs; Live shows; Other Projects

--SJM’s hot rhythm section kicks them through an impressive array of rock/funk genres--

SUPER JUNKY MONKEY

Mutsumi ‘623’ Takahashi--vocal (sadly, Mutsumi died on February 5, 1999)
Keiko--guitar (off and on guitarist for eX-Girl, where she’s known as Keikos)
Shinobu Kawai--bass (hired gun for an impressive number of groups and solo artists)
Matsudaaahh!!--drums


Cabbage -- (47:49) -- (1994) -- Rock-Za Co., Ltd. -- RICD-001

  1. Matador
  2. Super Junky Monkey Theme
  3. Revenge
  4. Find Your Self
  5. Shower
  6. Faster
  7. Popo Bar
  8. You Are Not The One
  9. Bed Side Session
This is the recording of a live SUPER JUNKY MONKEY show from Dec. 16, 1993. That’s a gutsy move for a band, to start their recorded history with a live recording. In the first song Mutsumi leads the charge, screaming, “I will kill you!” They’re out to prove they aren’t just another band of cute Japanese girls. They kick ass doing it, too. Rock, funk, jazz, grunge and hip-hop are smashed together and the towering mass tumbles off the stage like a wall about to fall on you. They don’t care that no one’s put these pieces together before. They’ve done it now, and it’s alive!
 
Screw Up -- (58:47) -- (1994) -- Sony Records -- SRCL 3028 -- (released in US)
  1. Shukuchoku No Choro Wa Chirou De Sourou (Old Man On The Nightshift With Prostatitis)
  2. Zakuro No Hone (Bone Of Pomegranate)
  3. Kioku No Netsuzou (Fabrication Of Memory)
  4. Buckin’ The Bolts
  5. Bakabatka (All Stupid)
  6. Tamage--Shiyoumae (Tamage Before)
  7. Ukatousen
  8. Popobar
  9. Where’re The Good Times
  10. Revenge
   11.  Decide
   12.  Get Out
   13.  Tamage--Shiyougo (Tamage After)
   14.  We’re The Mother
   15.  Shower
   16.  Fuji Funka Sunzen (Mt. Fuji About To Erupt)
    ----(untitled)
This is an amazing record. It starts with a roomful of crazed tap-dancers screaming in a cappella. Then the band throws musical changes at you till you have no idea what’s coming next. That’s where they keep you, too. Rock and funk are the main styles, but they bounce between them a good deal, and if something else gets wedged in between, it’s OK. The rhythm section is especially impressive. Songs flip through styles and intricate rhythm changes like you’re in an audio kaleidoscope, and the energy doesn’t settle down till the ping-pong ball stops bouncing. This one’s a masterpiece.
 

AIETOH -- (14:21) -- (1995) -- Sony Records -- SRCL 3192

  1. A•I•E•T•O•H
  2. Fuck That Noise
  3. Time Is Culture
  4. Blah, Blah, Blah
This one rocks from start to finish and even sounds a bit angrier. They haven’t stopped the odd rhythm changes and intricate song structures, but Mutsumi, the vocalist, sounds a bit less forgiving this time out. She’s serious now. The musicianship continues to be tight, but it often sounds like there are some noisy things going on in the background. Rock and funk are holding their own, but the band tears along at such a furious pace that neither can gain control for long. Which will emerge superior?
 
Parasitic People -- (53:16) -- (1996) -- Tristar Music -- WK 36772 -- (US release)
  1. Introduction
  2. The Words
  3. If
  4. Parasitic People
  5. Gokai (Misunderstanding)
  6. Our Universe
  7. Nani (What)
  8. Telepathy
  9. Start With Makin’ A Fire
  10. Burn System’s Flag
  11. Kappa
  1. The True Parasites
  2. See Me, Feel Me
  3. New Song
  4. Tairiku No Kodoh (Pulsation’s Continent)
This band does have something to say, but that’s not why I’m listening. They are experimenting here with some things they hadn’t played around with much before. There are bits of rap, heavy-metal, prog-rock and even a little psych creeping into the mix. I like that they’re continuing to experiment, and some of those strange noisy things seem to be moving up in the mix, but I’m pretty sure I don’t like some of these new influences. Some of this is downright ponderous. They’re trying to fly, but something is weighing a little too heavy on their wings.
 

Super Junky Alien -- (33:18) -- (1996) -- Sony Records -- SRCL 3720

  1. S.J. Alien
  2. R.P.G
  3. I Got The Third
  4. Sky Surfer Go Go Go
  5. Love & Peace Hard Core
  6. Stage 666
  7. Seven
  8. MTV Top Of The Hour
This CD is scary. It was their last release with Mutsumi. It begins with a radio being tuned in. There are aliens (distorted voices) all of track six and in between most songs. The weird noises are even louder now. The lead vocals are often buried in the mix. Track five starts with a digeridoo and a chant. Track eight replicates, then jams on MTV’s top of the hour music, amidst vocal attacks and gargling. Experimentation? This band could have done nearly anything. Sometimes music, which initially seems unintelligible, later turns out to be groundbreaking. I doubt if that’s the case here.
 

EKISSO -- (20:08) -- (1998) -- Condor Records -- CODR-623

  1. Shaved Women
  2. E•Kiss•O
  3. A.B.C.
  4. Yattemae
  5. Towering Man
These tracks were recorded with Mutsumi roughly two years after Super Junky Alien. The songs are varied, from the largely percussive backing of ‘Shaved Women’ to the spacy transmissions slapped on a rock blast in ‘Yattemae’. Each song is searching new directions, and there’s a new maturity. Especially in ‘Towering Man’ and ‘E•Kiss•O’, Mutsumi is really singing, and it makes me wish she’d done more of it. The musicianship’s as strong as ever, though they seem less inclined to prove it, and the mix has Mutsumi back out in front. The wait has made this snack a full meal!
 
Songs Are Our Universe -- (100:13) -- Condor Records -- CODR-624/625

Sea Urchin Hero Disc

  1. Super Junky Monkey Theme
  2. R.P.G
  3. Blah, Blah, Blah
  4. Nani (What)
  5. Gokai (Misunderstanding)
  6. Bakabatka (All Stupid)
  7. AIETOH
  8. Skysurfer Strike Force
  9. Tell Me Your All
  10. Start With Makin’ A Fire
  11. Tamage
  1. I Call Myself “Sliced Ice”
  2. Kioku No Netsuzou (Spit Bug) (Fabrication Of Memory)
  3. Where’re The Good Times
  4. Decide
  5. Popobar

QuickTime Movie:
          Buckin’ The Bolts (live)
          RPG
          We’re The Mother
          Decide (live)

Expensive Brain Disc

  1. Parasitic People
  2. The Words
  3. Zakuro No Hone (Bone Of Pomegranate)
  4. I Got The Third
  5. Seven
  6. Genshi No Sairai (New Song)
  7. Shower
  8. If
  9. We’re The Mother
  10. Love & Peace Hard Core

Quicktime Movie:
          Towering Man (live)

Wow! The first disc shows you how truly great SUPER JUNKY MONKEY were. It rocks with gusto, and there are enough odd bits to keep the brain active, and your jaw on the floor. The second disc is more challenging, but that was their reason for being. The booklet includes all the lyrics (often in English, and well worth a read); a biography (in Japanese); a discography (including videos); and a list of every live show and who played with them. It’s a great collection of music, a well documented booklet, and there are very cool movies on each disc. As an introduction, or a consummation, this’ll do it!

--LIVE--


Unlike other live reviews on this site, which were written shortly after the fact, this one was written about a show that happened a number of years ago.

I found these pictures when looking through old photo albums. I hadn't remembered taking any, but there they were, so, here they are.

  

Super Junky Monkey/Princess Superstar--The Cooler--7/18/96
        Dan and I left a Metamorphosis show put on by Koosil-ja Hwang to make sure we didn’t miss SUPER JUNKY MONKEY who were playing across town at The Cooler. It was unfortunate, because a large group of musicians (including Koosil-ja Hwang and Ikue Mori) were going to top off the multi-media performance night with a jam, which I knew was going to be interesting, but I didn’t want to miss a chance to see SUPER JUNKY MONKEY.
        This show was part of the Macintosh New York Music Festival, which itself was part of the Global Internet Gathering (GIG), over 600 shows broadcast live over the internet from around the world. I really didn’t know what to expect from SUPER JUNKY MONKEY. I owned their first two CDs, and liked them both very much. I didn’t actually believe they could create that kind of power live, though. It was an impressive show! Mutsumi stalked the stage in her hip-hop baggy-pants and loose shirt. She had a device she used occasionally to drop her voice an octave, and she roamed the stage as if daring someone to try and take it away from her, clutching the microphone in her fist and forcefully making her presence felt. They had the crowd in their spell almost immediatly. The music, a bit ragged at first, came together quickly. Though it never matched the clean changes of Screw Up, it did regularly match the full-on power of Cabbage. I remember at one point looking at what Keiko (guitar) was doing, because I heard something amazing going on. I was surprised to find that she really wasn’t doing all that much. Where was all that amazing sound coming from? I continued my search and found that almost all of it was coming from Shinobu (bass). She was all over the neck of that bass. The intricacies of their song structures proved none of them were slouches, but Shinobu was the rumbling wall they hung their songs on. They were already playing a number of the songs that later appeared on Parasitic People and the new songs sounded big, but the songs I was familiar with kicked with a joyful ferociousness, and Matsudaahh!! (drums) charged through each change like she couldn’t wait to get to the next one. Toward the end of the show, with the audience displaying quite a few dropped-jaws, Mutsumi raised her arm and gave us a peace/victory sign. I was impressed that she had chosen that rather than the usual, moronic devil’s horns, and immediately raised a peace/victory sign back at her. Our hands moved closer and our fingers touched. She then repeated that action with a number of other members of the audience. The music was powerful. The band was great, but I think Mutsumi’s sincerity and strength of purpose gave it all an emotional resonance and a human warmth. On the way out of the club, I heard more than a few festival goers marveling that it was easily the best show they had seen at the Macintosh Music Festival that week. Dan was impressed, too.


--Other Projects--


EX-GIRL

Kirilo--vocal & bass
Fuzuki--vocal & drums
Keiko--vocal & guitar

Luna Rosé -- (22:48) -- (2002) -- Avex Inc. -- RRCD-85325

  1. Luna Rosé
  2. Sckatt Mind You
  3. Luna Rosé (Karaoke Version)
  4. Sckatt Mind You (Karaoke Version)
The coolest thing about this release is that the band is in transition. Keiko has joined and brought her sometimes subtle, sometimes enormous guitar sound, but Fuzuki’s trogglodyte drums are still pounding away. Hoppy Kamiyama’s rich production makes the karaoke versions worthwhile, and shows off the growth in EX-GIRL’s sound. Hoppy’s keyboards flirt with a disco/dance sound in both songs, but EX-GIRL’s vocals, though slightly more traditional in approach, go their own way, as always, and Keiko’s guitar seems more than capable of leading it all back toward the rock.
 
TRICOMI

Whacho--toy cushions & drums
Akira Mizutani--guitar, vocal, baritone sax & theremin
Shinobu Kawai--bass

Jun Togawa--vocal
Hoppy Kamiyama--digital president, slide geisha, perverse sisters & scum tape from the garbage (assume tapes, synthesizers & more)

Good Girls Get Fed, Bad Girls Get Eaten. -- (38:31) -- (2004) -- Equivocal Records -- EQCD-0008

  1. Cooler
  2. Don’t Marry By Any Means
  3. Custom-Made Kareshi (Custom-Made Boyfriend)
  4. He Uses Violence
  5. A Learned Girl
  6. Since I’ve Got Damaged
  7. 3 Times Per Day
  8. My Twin Sister
Shinobu Kawai was SUPER JUNKY MONKEY’s bassist. Whacho formerly played with Hoppy Kamiyama in ONTJ. Jun Togawa is an avant-garde vocalist, Akira Mizutani is from avant-garde jazz, wrote these songs, and put these musicians together. The songs are extremely varied, from inventive pop/rock to strange sound collages over which Jun Togawa talks, sings, and stretches her vocals into sometimes odd, sometimes delightful shapes. It’s a live performance, and the musicians are highly talented, but it will take very open and accepting ears to appreciate everything on display here.