Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Half Japanese
Horrible EP


Released 1982 on Press
Reviewed by Lugia, 04/01/2004ce


Half Japanese: "Horrible" EP
Press Records P 2005, recorded/released 1982.

1) Thing With a Hook
2) Don't Go to Bed
3) Rosemary's Baby
4) Vampire
5) Walk Through Walls

I don't think anything Half Japanese has done could ever be considered 'easy listening', but this is a lot uneasier than most of their stuff. Five songs all based on horror films here, and they go by fast on this 12" EP. At some points, like "Rosemary's Baby", things are almost...cohesive? In an early Sonic Youth-like way, maybe. But with the Mo Tucker primitivism of the drumming, and the constant bang-clang overlaid with Jad Fair's bleating, it BARELY holds together. 'Tight', this isn't. But you don't listen to Half Japanese for 'tight' either.

After a really discordant start with "Thing With a Hook" ("There's a thing with a hook/tearin' doors off cars/down on Lover's Lane"), you get into the semi-singalong of "Don't Go to Bed". And then the aforementioned "Rosemary's Baby" which has some things to it that presage SY around the time of, say, "Death Valley '69".

"Vampire" leads off side 2...very International Artists, this, with the overloaded echo, the clattery mix, the vocal droning, the chanting "He's gone he's gone he's gone he's gone he's gone!" Something really off-kilter here, to be sure. "Gone" is a good adjective, yep.

And then the piece de resistance, the room-clearing "I Walk Through Walls". Christ on a crutch...you'd think Jad was going to have an aneurysm during this, or was having one, or SOMETHING. The band scuttles along underneath, honking, wailing, banging on their instruments in a sub-garage manner. And the vocal is pure madness...like some sort of nightmare you had as a kid after watching the late-night Hammer films that your parents usually forbade you to see. And it goes on and on and on...by the end, Jad's devolved into wailing in tongues and the band sounds like it's going to fly to flinders from the sheer overload of the anti-music they're playing. Jad also overdubbed the sax part here, which sounds for all the world like Albert Ayler on an OD-load of pure crystal crank. A masterwork of noise, a veritable Tintaretto of basement racket. Eventually, there would be people who would catch up to this grade of mayhem (Hanatarash, anyone?), but for the early 80s, this was some damn fine ear-wrench.

Yep, the title says it all. But the band name says what you're getting into anyway, so that title may as well be an endorsement. After all, if it's HALF JAPANESE Horrible, well, hell...


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