“s/t” 7" flexi (Joker Records)
Ningen Hormone is one of those Japanese flexis that used to be a dime a dozen. Even if it was technically rare, no one cared about it and it popped up on eBay for cheap relatively often. It may be true that few care about it now either, and the average collector of Japanese hardcore probably would not enjoy it, but fans of truly awful music should be clued in to this one. Let’s see if I can sum it up in a few words: majorly out of tune, whiny, primitive, and loose. That’s probably not enticing, but here’s another way of looking at it: most of the songs on this flexi by Ningen Hormone (ningen means “human”) sound like they were made by kids trying quite hard to imitate the shreiked, off-kilter sounds of ADK Records bands like Kikeiji, Masturbation, and Aburadako. From 1985, the songs are definitely off-kilter, and the double-fetus artwork calls to mind Kikeiji’s. Because the whiny, sing-songy vocals, which will be abrasive to some, loosely resemble the ADK sound, I think we can be certain that the band was self-consciously playing this way rather than doing so because of a sheer lack of ability or talent. This is completely a guess on my part, but I believe the ultra-simple drums, out-of-tune guitars, and almost drugged and schizophrenic, lethargic but oddly energetic, and loose playing is Ningen Hormone’s attempt at creating an art-punk or even avant-garde hardcore idiom. Whether they succeeded or fell flat on their collective face is up to the listener to decide. The third track is notably slower and more repetitive than the others, with a particularly annoying motif repeated over and over, whereas the third and fifth are fast enough to approach hardcore. Even weirder is that five of
the six songs were likely recorded at the sime time (and have the same sound), but the sixth seems to be a live recording, complete with audience noise. This song is the one that the ultra-fans reference knowingly on obscure message boards. It leans more toward rough, drunken, chaotic hardcore. This song could be considered Japan’s brief answer to Finland’s Sekunda, one of the messiest shit-fi hardcore bands ever. It seems highly unlikely that Ningen Hormone would have heard Sekunda, considering they released only a couple tracks on Finnish compilation vinyl during their short existence. Anyway, the song is a short blast that doesn’t really go anywhere and ends abruptly. It’s a mess, but it’s certainly faster and rougher than the other songs on the flexi. The indescribable difference between hardcore and punk, at least musically, might be clarified by the comparison between this song and those preceding it on this flexi. The record is not particularly great, even from a bad-music perspective, but it’s unique. No other Japanese band sounds quite like either the deranged art-punk or the short rough hardcore of Ningen Hormone. Most will think it’s crap, and I don’t have anything profound to say about it. But it is obscure and it is a flexi, and it’s definitely more interesting than a lot of obscure flexis myspace crusties are using their parents’ credit cards to buy these days. Unfortunately, there is almost zero English on the sleeve, so if the record does turn up on eBay, it might be listed incorrectly. Study scans, scum.