Shigeru Ishihara, otherwise known as DJ Scotch Egg, is best known for making mind-blowingly fast gabba techno, destroying Nintendo Game Boys on stage, and throwing scotch eggs at his audience. So, you’d expect a side-project to be equally insane.
Drum Eyes, a loose collective involving Ishihara and members of bands like The Boredoms and Trencher, couldn’t be more different to his solo output. Gira Gira may be Japanese for ‘bling bling’ but the six tracks here are about as far removed from music associated with diamonds and Cristal as it’s possible to be.
This is, for the most part, stately electronic instrumental post-rock with, as the band name would suggest, an added emphasis on drums. Sounding like early Fuck Buttons with a healthy dose of Krautrock injected into the mix, it’s fair to say that Drum Eyes will probably be an acquired taste for many.
Lasting just over 32 minutes, Gira Gira’s six tracks range from the conventionally short (Gyanza is under three minutes long) to the truly epic (the album’s centrepiece Future Yakuza clocks in at just over 10 minutes). Yet this doesn’t feel like a short album – rather, it flows by in the mood of one long soundscape.
Opener 50/50 builds up steadily and slowly, taking over 2 minutes before the main melody kicks in, with the drums in the instrumental sounding like a helicopter warming up. It soon settles into an atmospheric, mid-tempo track, before those drums kick in again for a frantic outro. It may not be the most commercial sound you’ll hear this year, but any fans of Ishihara’s Scotch Egg persona may be surprised.
There’s a tangible heavy rock influence to Future Yazuka, which pounds and thumps its way through 10 thrilling minutes while the sinister, eerie 13 Magicians is as scary as your average Japanese horror movie. These tracks, and the entire album in fact, pull off the neat trick of sounding both glossily futuristic and strangely dated – like a call sign from another world.
If there’s a criticism to be made of Gira Gira, it’s that it seems unsure where it should be aiming. This is too complex and strange to be mere background music, yet it won’t stand up to repeated listening for all but the most hardcore of fan. Crossover potential would seem limited here too – only rarely does an instrumental band break into mainstream, although the success of both Fuck Buttons and Holy Fuck demonstrates that those days may be coming to an end.
And, let’s be honest, nobody is going to listen to an album by DJ Scotch Egg on the basis that it may soon pop up on Glee. So, while this may not be bothering the charts anytime soon, the committed fan is in for a treat.