Japanese Television – No, they’re not a Japanese tribute band to New York ‘70s art-punks Television, nor are they merely a description of what a lot of us may have in the corner of our living rooms. Japanese Television are new band from London who play music that they themselves describe as Space-Surf. They take their influences from Hawkwind, King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard and Neu! Their debut EP was recorded by Kristian Bell of The Wytches. 12” EP on Tip Top Recordings.
Here’s what Louder Than War has to say, via Matt Mead in the August 17, 2018 issue:
Japanese harp and synth player Ian Thorn and Bassist Alex Lawton met on tour in Europe, performing as part of a Canadian space-rock orchestra. They bonded over their shared passion for Finnish experimental band Circle, Pink Floyd, Television, Broadcast and Brian Eno, and went on to form instrumental space-surf band, Japanese Television, with James Moriaty and Tim Jones.
They put together a collection of tracks that would make their debut self-titled EP and went into the studio (i.e a village hall outside of Peterborough armed with an 8-track) with Kristian Bell of The Wytches at the helm. The EP is out on 7th September via revered underground label Tip Top Recordings (Cassels, Sun Cop).
“The combination of extensive travelling and our shared love for psychedelic and experimental music has crept into the sound of the EP” says synth/harpist Ian. “If Country Joe represents the scenic part of the journey where you’re by the coast or in the mountains in the sunshine, then Tick Tock is bombing it up the M1.”
From the ashes of three separate psychedelic rock bands, rose Japanese Television who formed late last year with a shared vision of creating wonky surf-rock. “Although the band is instrumental, we don’t play solos. It’s more about atmosphere and creating a hypnotic effect. Hypnotism through repetition, reverbs and delays, harps and fuzz boxes” Ian continues.
The quartet have succeeded in capturing the raw spirit of their live performance on the EP, recording over a mere two days to an 8-track tape. “The rural location coupled with the fact that it rained constantly, meant that we were able to focus completely on getting it done in a short amount of time” they explained.
At the heavier end of Japanese Television’s brief collection of experimental tracks, is lead single from their first EP, Tick Tock. Recorded live in one take, the track harks back to ‘70s-era motorik rock, employing organs, synths and reverb-drenched guitars cascading over a hypnotic, driving bass. “Tick Tock is heavily influenced by the likes of Hawkwind and Neu!” says Ian.
Elsewhere on the EP, the other-worldly Surfing Saucers is an eerie space-rock adventure, whilst sun-soaked Country Joe is reminiscent of the sound of ‘60s surf pop. With their brand-new EP, Japanese Television have captured the essence of a soundscape, lost in time.
To get idea of what they sound like, here is a session recorded for Marc Riley’s program at BBC 6 music, and recorded only a few hours ago. Crank it up and enjoy.