Here is the Shit-Fi top ten list of Japanese noise-core records (all of which are 7"s, most flexis). The list is based on my own personal taste, many years of listening to these records, and endless conversations with other enthusiasts. I published a list of the top five in 2002 in Game of the Arseholes #5, which was a dry run for this article. The intervening years have made the music much more obtainable, with reissues and scumbag bootlegs aplenty as well as the more benign file-sharing and MP3 downloads. I have included sound files for most, if not all, of the records on the list. It's true that most of these records are rare and getting rarer, and I cannot deny that I believe the most authentic and rewarding listening experience comes from the original vinyl housed in the original sleeve, but there is no reason to think this list is meant as some sort of exercise in the dread elitism that is so often associated with rare records. Nope, pure Japanese noise-core socialism here, comrades.
I am making a point of not defining what exactly "Japanese noise-core" means to me as a preface to this article. Rather, I hope the accumulated insights, details, and observations in these ten short pieces will constitute a full explanation of what this (noise not) music is and why I believe it is important. I will note that no "crust" records will be included, even though one of the records on this list is from 1991, two years after Gloom formed. I believe Gloom, taking influences from Extreme Noise Terror and countrymen Acid and Confuse, in addition to Disorder, Chaos UK, Discharge, is of a different era from the one covered in this list. Gloom is the finest band of that era, and will certainly be #1 on any list I write about it, but because I believe the "Confuse era" and the "Gloom era" to overlap, this list isn't limited to the 1980s only. Also, part of the impetus for writing this list, besides the current availability of the music online, is that I believe these records are beginning to capture a wider audience, outside the crust/collector scenes. Noise—whatever that means—is hip (maybe already passé, even), but are harsh-noiseheads hip to these records? In my opinion, anyone interested in extreme music should check these bands out. No need for secrecy here. The noise cat is out of the bag.
Click on the sleeves at right for the articles.
Thanks: Chris Minicucci, David Hyde, Murakami Kuniharu,Imants Krumins, Zach Howard, Takanori Nitta