LED BY brothers Jad and David Fair, Maryland's Half Japanese have achieved a minor, but international reputation as madly imaginative noisemakers of the most cacophonous kind. The eccentricity of their career and music is delightfully revealed in the simultaneous release of two new studio albums, "Our Solar System" and "Sing No Evil."
While the band's jazzy freedom and somewhat dissonant, atonal attack recall rock avant-gardists from Captain Beefheart and the Velvet Underground to Throbbing Gristle, there's really nothing high-minded or even confrontational about Half Japanese. Rather, they come on like a modernist version of those three-chord garage heroes, the Kingsmen.
In fact, on "Our Solar System," Half Japanese tackle the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie," as well as the Thirteenth Floor Elevator's "You're Gonna Miss Me." Though they still haven't quite mastered the three chords, they do follow garage tradition by inviting local music friends to join in the revelry. The resulting chaotic tangle of three drums, three saxophones and three guitars sounds like nothing less than the frat-house party of the future.
While both albums still feature the occasional squawking, feedback-heavy, improvisatory exercise, they display a more organized and tuneful approach to musicmaking than in the past. On the catchy "I Have a Secret" from "Sing No Evil," Jad Fair's squeaky and anxious teenage voice achieves a moving rapport with his fetching, matter-of-fact lyricism.
Although most rock musicians learn to play and then spend the rest of their careers looking for inspiration and a message, the Fair brothers approach the music from a different angle. Like children in a romper room, they have plenty of spirit and plenty to say. Now, where are those instruments?
HALF JAPANESE -- "Our Solar System" (Iridescence K-6) and "Sing No Evil" (Iridescence I-10); appearing at Nathan D. Champion's, Saturday 9 until 2.