Confuse “Spending Loud Night” (Kings World Records: CONFUSE 6)

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“Spending Loud Night” is to Japanese noise-core what “The Medium Was Tedium” is to UK DIY or “Agitated” is to US punk. What places this record at the top of the Japanese noise-core list is metaphysics, pure and simple. Also, like “Agitated,” this record was released some time after it was recorded: four years later, in ‘87. One is tempted to argue that the world was not yet ready for such unholy screech as is contained herein back in the easy-going days of ‘83, but, alas, one doubts the world could’ve been any more ready in ‘87, either. (Also, one is not entirely convinced that some remixing did not occur between ’83 and ’87 to improve the sound.) It is known for certain that Chaos UK and Disorder were Confuse’s primary influences, but the bolt of feedback that sets off this attack also sets it a notch or thirty above the barmy UK noisemakers of yore. The components of this noise sound more like the effects machines used in old movies about space aliens. They rev up, flutter around, and zoom to warp speeds. As would become the trademark of the Fukuoka (Kyushu) noise-core sound, it is the bass which produces the melody. Nary a discernable riff is to be heard emanating from the geetar. Solos come in when one expects them, and they’re quite crude, though novel in their apparent desire to push the limits of the noise a guitar can make. Vocals pan from one side to the other and seem to be mostly desperate screams like “Argh” and “Ugh,” certainly rarely matching up with the lyrics printed. At times, the drums, which approximate falling sheet metal, seem to pan willy-nilly as well. What’s so remarkable about this record is that each song has unique production values. They are all blindingly noisy, but as Kazimir Malevich never painted a simple black square that could be mechanically reproduced, Confuse layer their tunes with subtle and endearing qualities. For example, there is an extra, rumbling drum track that appears out of nowhere late in “Absolute Power of Armaments Old Man.” And, indeed, in the title track, which comes last on the record, and which is the truffle shaved onto the top of the soufflé, the noise is layered complexly, as if it were some sort of deranged symphony. “Hate War” is the fastest tune—actually, for ‘83 it’s remarkably fast. On the “Nuclear Addicts” flexi, it’s called “Hate (Is It War?),” but this, the earlier version, is superior. Incidentally, though “Nuclear Addicts” has the sleeve that launched a million myspace profiles, “Spending Loud Night” is clearly one of the finest punk catch phrases ever penned, and another reason why this EP is my favorite Confuse record. Regarding “Merciless Game,” the lyrics include the please-carve-this-into-my-tombstone line “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.”


But the great achievement of this record is its title track, and unlike the other three tracks, no different version of it appears on another Confuse record. The tune itself makes, say, O. Rex sound, oh, complex. It resembles “Farmyard Boogie,” Chaos UK’s perennial favorite sheep-shagging anthem. “Spending Loud Night” is barely half the speed of the usual Confuse fare, and Isoda-san (a.k.a. Dis) almost sings, in the way one almost sings at karaoke when one is too drunk to link the bouncing ball to the words on the screen. But this song goes a long way toward explaining the mysteries of Confuse: the ‘60s pop-art lettering on the picture sleeve makes a mite of sense once one hears the sub-sub-sub-sub-pop-psych major-key solo guitar overdubs. My father’s in the fireplace and my dog lies hypnotized by the sublime noize of Confuse. If Confuse are best understood as the Japanese hardcore band that embodied the fundamentally punk, and perhaps especially fundamentally Japanese punk, notion of pushing the boundaries of a genre to its extreme while never skirting those boundaries and heading somewhere else, maybe it is best to understand the sound of these solos as Confuse asking “What is most abhorrent to punks?”—hippies, natch—and then saying, “OK, so we’ll appropriate a hippie sound and turn it on its head so that it will make both the punks and the hippies cover their ears and run out of the room.” Of course, in their hearts, they knew that the diehards would not run in fear but rather would turn up the volume and try to crawl inside the speakers.

All Confuse records are worth repeated high-volume listens. But here is my slightly sacrilegious list of favorites in order of finest to almost finest (if I turn up assassinated, you’ll know to suspect certain Midwest and/or Southern California noise/punk weirdos as a result of this): “Spending Loud Night” 7", “Indignation” demo, tracks from V/A “Jisatu Omnibus” 8", “Stupid Life” 12", “Nuclear Addicts” flexi, “Contempt for the Authority…” 7". Bootlegs not included. Duh.

For a translation of this article in Russian, click here.

For a translation of this article in French by Alex Simon, click here. This translation was originally published in Ratcharge fanzine #13.



Update: Several years after I wrote this, I, along with most other US-based Confuse fans, learned that "Spending Loud Night" is a loose cover of the song "Spending Silent Night" by the Japanese pop wave band Salon Music. In some ways, that information changes my perspective on the song, but in other ways, it only deepens the true weirdness of it that I tried to capture in this piece. Making the whole thing even more interesting is the direction of Salon Music's trajectory. Their sound evolved toward a more shoegaze vibe, essentially completing the strange circle begun by Confuse, who helped to introduce extreme noise, distortion, and feedback into hardcore punk, which British shoegaze bands would come to adopt and repurpose in their own latter-day psychedelic fashion. I haven't changed much in the article after learning this fact, just a couple edits here and there.