Zazen Boys!

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Okay, somehow I only just discovered these guys yesterday, even though they seem to be fairly well known in Japan and are totally up my alley. All I've heard is Zazen Boys 4, and I understand that their previous albums were quite different in style. Nevertheless, I don't get why this isn't getting more exposure -- it's brilliant stuff, and seems to seamlessly incorporate so many different reference points into something that's undeniably fun and engaging. (At different points I'm reminded of Battles, Rick James, no wave, Lindstrom, Chicago house, Boredoms, and Yes.) Why wasn't this on more year-end lists? Even on ILM the discussion seemed to be limited to a few stray comments on the Japanese indie thread.

So who has heard this? Is it as brilliant as I've convinced myself it is or am I just crazy?

i fuck mathematics, Tuesday, 3 February 2009 22:23 (ten years ago) Permalink

lol i guess i gotta hear this

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Tuesday, 3 February 2009 22:31 (ten years ago) Permalink

previous albums were very very very different. Zazen 4 was all set to break out in the states being produced here by Flaming Lips guy and all, but I think the few fanatics who'd been following them were thrown by just how different it was and hesitated to yell about it (myself included)

the new one is more techno / drum machine based than ever -- the first three albums were more about prog pop metal overkill & three sets of distortion plug-ins set across the drums, let alone the guitars. Like a J-pop version of the Ruins with histrionic vocals.

there's stuff about them scattered on other threads, mostly the Shiina Ringo thread (their collaborations were how I found out about them.

finally, 'Riff Man' which is what is the monster, as dleone noted

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 3 February 2009 22:32 (ten years ago) Permalink

listened to the songs on their myspace, pretty cool shit (vocals aside)

Tracy Michael Jordan Catalano (Jordan), Tuesday, 3 February 2009 22:34 (ten years ago) Permalink

listening to this again, how in hell did I miss 'Honnoji' the first time? this is pretty much what they're all about, ok let me try this album again

No Time, Crazy Days Crazy Feelings, Riff Man = three songs that never left my top 25 most played for about a year there.

usually very allergic to filesharing on ILM but one song shouldn't hurt, and these guys should be huge

Milton Parker, Tuesday, 3 February 2009 22:39 (ten years ago) Permalink

Hmmm, the song you just linked is actually the only thing I've heard by them outside of their current album. It's great, but if that's representative of their previous sound, I can understand how people who had followed them before ZB4 might not "get" this album. It seems like they used to be going for a sort of Ruins-lite vibe, like you said, whereas the new one makes more sense in the context of funkier stuff like James Chance or space-disco. It is mathy I guess, but in more of a Battles-gone-funk sort of way.

i fuck mathematics, Tuesday, 3 February 2009 22:55 (ten years ago) Permalink

i also found out about them through the shiina ringo connection, and their version of "kimochi" with her is one of my favourite ever songs. the previous albums i found a bit too proggy but this new one sounds promising.

there's plenty of stuff on youtube btw, like this mindbending live version of "kimochi":

rio (r1o natsume), Tuesday, 3 February 2009 23:01 (ten years ago) Permalink

Yeah, pretty good. I should have downloaded a bunch of their stuff when I saw it.

_Rockist__Scientist_, Tuesday, 3 February 2009 23:16 (ten years ago) Permalink

As long as we're posting youtube clips:

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="";></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src=""; type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

i fuck mathematics, Wednesday, 4 February 2009 00:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

...shit, can someone fix that?

i fuck mathematics, Wednesday, 4 February 2009 00:33 (ten years ago) Permalink

You can just copy and paste the url and it automatically will make it into a little picture for you without you adding any code.

_Rockist__Scientist_, Wednesday, 4 February 2009 00:45 (ten years ago) Permalink

er, totally knew that. thanks!

i fuck mathematics, Wednesday, 4 February 2009 00:57 (ten years ago) Permalink

I think I like the new sound better than the old sound (but I'm not a real fan or anything--this is just an adjunct to Shiina Ringo for me at this point, but I kind of like a few of there songs, at least).

“No, I don’t believe in the U.S. apologizing. . . .” (_Rockist__Scientist_), Wednesday, 4 February 2009 00:59 (ten years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 14 December 2009 00:36 (nine years ago) Permalink

Well, if you needed video evidence that this band is operating on a level beyond most conceptions of "levels."

Brad Nelson (BradNelson), Monday, 14 December 2009 00:42 (nine years ago) Permalink

ZAZEN BOYS II is, incidentally, sometimes my favorite record, all rhythmic abandon and occasional Prince references ("You Make Me Feel So Bad").

Also this thread needs more videos.

Brad Nelson (BradNelson), Monday, 14 December 2009 00:45 (nine years ago) Permalink

Brad Nelson (BradNelson), Monday, 14 December 2009 00:45 (nine years ago) Permalink

I think everything is the "best thing ever" but I sometimes am really convinced that this is the best music video.

Brad Nelson (BradNelson), Monday, 14 December 2009 00:47 (nine years ago) Permalink

This song and video convinced me long ago that I was destined to let ZAZEN BOYS forever pollute my blood. It is basically a math rock song but it'll break your brain.

Brad Nelson (BradNelson), Monday, 14 December 2009 00:54 (nine years ago) Permalink

Zazen Boys II is my fav from them. Himitsu Girl's top secret too. Mukai's the man

kaitokid05, Thursday, 17 December 2009 07:28 (nine years ago) Permalink

zazen boys are great! though perhaps cause "weekend" was the first thing i ever heard by them, i preferred IV and was more put off by their earlier, harder stuff.

messiahwannabe, Thursday, 17 December 2009 07:53 (nine years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

all right, i was embarrassing in 2009

anyway, hope there's a zazen boys record in 2012. did anyone check out the kimonos record from 2010 (mukai shutoku's collaboration w/ leo imai)? sort of talking heads/police-ish style, with synth darkness

Whiney vs. (BradNelson), Friday, 10 February 2012 16:39 (seven years ago) Permalink

Number Girl were way better.

queequeg (peter grasswich), Friday, 10 February 2012 18:25 (seven years ago) Permalink


Whiney vs. (BradNelson), Friday, 10 February 2012 18:34 (seven years ago) Permalink

oh, another awesome thing about the kimonos record is it contains this yellow magic orchestra cover

Whiney vs. (BradNelson), Monday, 13 February 2012 01:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

well not ymo exactly but haruomi hosono. close enough

Whiney vs. (BradNelson), Monday, 13 February 2012 01:22 (seven years ago) Permalink

three months pass...


_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:05 (seven years ago) Permalink

shiina sings a bunch of the backing vocals on zazen boys ii as well

Whiney vs. (BradNelson), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:13 (seven years ago) Permalink

I knew there was some connection (I don't really know my Zazen Boys as much as I would like) but I wasn't expecting this. It's the total package. For example, the generic background music is ridiculous.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:15 (seven years ago) Permalink

number girl is shiina's favorite band, and there was a shiina tour where she formed a pre-tokyo jihen band with number girl guitarist tabuchi

Whiney vs. (BradNelson), Wednesday, 16 May 2012 22:34 (seven years ago) Permalink

favorite song is RIFF MAN

and especially in the live version, when they finally drop the direct reference to the original inspiration -- watch from 4:00

Milton Parker, Wednesday, 16 May 2012 23:06 (seven years ago) Permalink

(Anything (of any type, musically speaking) you think I would like from 2012, Milton? It's been pretty dry for me but I haven't been looking that hard either.)

_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 17 May 2012 00:01 (seven years ago) Permalink

(At least tissue box design seems to be thriving.)

_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 17 May 2012 00:04 (seven years ago) Permalink

If you like this track, the entire album is guaranteed to sustain your interest

Milton Parker, Thursday, 17 May 2012 04:53 (seven years ago) Permalink

That's really something.

_Rudipherous_, Thursday, 17 May 2012 14:20 (seven years ago) Permalink

three months pass...

New Zazen Boys:

At no listen, it sounds kind of like a return to a little more of an edge (after 4) but with sweet electronic or keyboard sounds in the mix, kept on from 4. But I'm not the expert some of you are.

Mmmm. This is pretty good.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 3 September 2012 17:00 (six years ago) Permalink

new album's out on the fifth and i may just import the thing

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 3 September 2012 17:02 (six years ago) Permalink

although i remember buying zazen boys 4 on itunes pretty much the day it came out, hope there's a similar thing planned for this release

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 3 September 2012 17:05 (six years ago) Permalink

I feel like I should buy a geiger counter before I import anything from Japan. Not trying to be obnoxious, I seriously think it's potentially that bad. You can't have all that radiation constantly being released.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 3 September 2012 17:08 (six years ago) Permalink

Just found this while looking for the song on youtube:

Oddly I could see this working as a Jpop song!

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 3 September 2012 17:13 (six years ago) Permalink

OSCA style dance moves.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 3 September 2012 17:16 (six years ago) Permalink

That's actually kind of scary to watch.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 3 September 2012 17:17 (six years ago) Permalink

Way beyond OSCA dance moves, actually. I hadn't seen that much of it when I said that.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 3 September 2012 17:21 (six years ago) Permalink


emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Tuesday, 11 September 2012 04:36 (six years ago) Permalink


emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Tuesday, 11 September 2012 04:36 (six years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

This is pretty good, but the vocals just get too annoying after a while, which is my main problem with the Zazen Boys. Otherwise, they sometimes hit some really nice, maybe fresh, combinations of timbre and rhythm.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 1 October 2012 14:50 (six years ago) Permalink

So far I don't think there's anything else on here as good as "Potato Salad."

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 1 October 2012 14:53 (six years ago) Permalink

aha i think most of the record is better than "potato salad"

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 1 October 2012 15:56 (six years ago) Permalink


_Rudipherous_, Monday, 1 October 2012 15:59 (six years ago) Permalink

"a morning of bursting sound" especially, which has this whole rising action aspect that reminds me of '90s emo

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 1 October 2012 16:01 (six years ago) Permalink

'90s emo

My favorite. No, no, I'm sure it could be good as re-purposed by Zazen Boys.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 1 October 2012 16:02 (six years ago) Permalink

You're so obviously influence by McKuen!

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 1 October 2012 16:06 (six years ago) Permalink

shoot i hate to be wrong

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 1 October 2012 16:08 (six years ago) Permalink

"Morning of Bursting Sound" reminds me more of some sort of pretty well done 80s fusion by bands whose names I've mostly forgotten now. Plus vocals, obviously.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 1 October 2012 20:19 (six years ago) Permalink

Although for some reason I like the brief moment when his voice gets very John Lydon like on this.

_Rudipherous_, Monday, 1 October 2012 20:21 (six years ago) Permalink

I have to admit "Morning of Bursting Sound" is growing on me a bit. It has an epic feel to it.

_Rudipherous_, Wednesday, 3 October 2012 14:31 (six years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

I'm liking this a bit more at this point, but possibly because I am letting it sit in the background more when I listen to it. And since "Ankokuya" just came on, let me mention that it reminds me, particularly in its rhythm section, really specifically of parts of Fred Frith's Speechless.

hello, I just had a quick question? (_Rudipherous_), Monday, 22 October 2012 14:58 (six years ago) Permalink

this record is so good. starting to consider it my favorite of theirs

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 22 October 2012 16:16 (six years ago) Permalink

oh hell this is on spotify

people get on this!

emo canon in twee major (BradNelson), Monday, 22 October 2012 16:31 (six years ago) Permalink

I know there is at least a handful of people here who would like this if they checked it out. Getting them to check it out is another matter.

hello, I just had a quick question? (_Rudipherous_), Monday, 22 October 2012 17:17 (six years ago) Permalink

four years pass...

Re-listening to 4, why don't these guys make more records?? They tour all the time, tsk....

MaresNest, Friday, 22 September 2017 21:16 (one year ago) Permalink

When you revived this I hoped it was because they'd announced something :(

ultros ultros-ghali, Saturday, 23 September 2017 10:08 (one year ago) Permalink

Sorry! :) This is the closest thing of late anyway.

MaresNest, Saturday, 23 September 2017 10:19 (one year ago) Permalink

Yes, they're one of the groups you've introduced me to, I don't listen to a large amount of hiphop but I like how awkward and lopsided their beats can be (I know the above isn't the best example of that)

ultros ultros-ghali, Saturday, 23 September 2017 10:39 (one year ago) Permalink

seven months pass...

miss these dudes. from what i can tell from their website, the bassist left the band (again) :\

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Thursday, 26 April 2018 12:57 (one year ago) Permalink

still the greatest music video

flamenco drop (BradNelson), Thursday, 26 April 2018 12:58 (one year ago) Permalink

ten months pass...

first NUMBER GIRL thread, i think?

Jersey Al (Albert R. Broccoli), Thursday, 14 March 2019 18:48 (two months ago) Permalink

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