Dancing after 1am


Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on October 2012


Weeding through the overgrown muck of Japan’s indie rock scene to find that rare flower isn’t for the faint of heart. Happily Englishman Ian Martin is there to roll up his sleeves and get mucky on our behalf.

Dancing After 1AM—a dig at Japan’s laws against late-night dancing—is the latest compilation from his Tokyo-based Call And Response Records, and bursts with offerings from no less than 18 Japanese bands.

Martin’s tastes run toward post-punk, new wave and “assorted experimental pop trash. ” As such Dancing After 1AM is more a snapshot of a certain side of Japan’s vast indie scene than a broad overview.

Anisakis lead off with “Poppukōn Hata Ni Kuroi Kage” (“Black Field Shadow Popcorn”), a driven slice of skronk in which the singer intones beguilingly about popcorn while guitars thrash about in the foreground.

The Extruders “Collapsing New Buildings” exudes a sense of calm quiet and wide-eyed wonder, while Jebiotto’s “Deacon Punk” is a standout—tuneful yet redolent with pheremonal synth-punk energy.

Indie stalwarts The Mornings are present with the chaotic, unsettling “Fuji,” and Tacobonds’ choppy, minimalistic “Ane” keeps things curious with a ceaselessly twisting and turning dance-punk narrative.

Dancing After 1AM may not be entirely representative of the Japanese indie scene, but it’s plenty intriguing temptation for a trawl through Tokyo’s claustrophobically welcoming live houses—assuming they haven’t been put out of business by police enforcing Japan’s no-dancing laws.