Review by David Cirone
101A’s coiled-snake style is an acquired taste, but their new release 4 shows off the Japanese alternative noise-rock band’s ability to hold you locked in their stare until the inevitable lethal strike.
As with 2008’s lethe, this isn’t a single-driven album with choruses to belt out at karaoke — it’s a solitary, atmospheric experience designed to slither into your mind when the lights go out.
With opening track “Luminous,” noah’s will-o’-the-wisp vocals lure you in with the repeated (and suspiciously innocent) chant of “goodbye” layered on top of 101A’s signature deep-chord guitar work. While “Luminous” displays 101A’s polished and familiar climactic structure, things get a bit rougher and less predictable in “Otogi” with some terrific fuzz-filter guitar and bass at the song’s mid-point.
“ghost” benefits from the longer track length (7 minutes+) and creates an eerie world with an exceptional amount of variety in its dark tones. “iron” has a similar length, but its steady drone and methodical progression will prove to be the endurance test for new listeners.
“moon” is where the album finally gets loud (courtesy of the k’s three-string bass guitar groove), and he takes over the album for a solid 8 minutes in “5334” with his hypnotic, spoken-word lyrics.
4 isn’t a starter album for new fans (go back to lethe‘s “Miranda Lethal Weapon” and “migration” for that), but it’s the best album to put in your head if you prefer your dreams a little darker.
Recommended tracks: ghost, moon, Luminous