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Xinlisupreme - Murder License [FatCat Records - 2002]

Following the successful Tomorrow Never Comes album (reviewed here), Japanese Xinlisupreme has put together another stunning release, this time in shape of a seven-track EP named Murder License.

With track titles as Murder License, I.T.D.O.O.M. and Count Down plus an American flag chopped up on a background of smeared blood on the cover, one can think for themselves where these Japanese draw their inspiration from. But "violence" and "power" are not the only keywords that can classify Xinlisupreme's music, if at all possible. The group from Oita in South-West Japan, consisting of three people nowadays, have the ability to combine those words with "tender", "strange", "spiritual"... If there's something like "pop noise", Xinlisupreme must have invented it. One side feels completely unlistenable, the other side makes you want to dance...

The title track starts with heavy percussion with noisy feedback in the background, but as on the previous release a muzzy and poppy keyboard melody shines through somewhat later in the song, but remaining the incredible harsh and intense ambience. A crazy and unintelligible voice completes this track. Noise is definitely a synonym for the next song I Drew A Picture Of My Eyes; very heavy and ear-splitting sounds supported by ditto percussion, ending rather calm with a piano drowning in soundscapes of Merzbow-vibes. Front Of You rocks as if it was a Mötorhead cover; (not-to-)danceable beats sprinkled over sounds which are indescribable and again a mysterious voice speaking now and then. The fourth track Sakae is more in the Japanese noise-tradition some of you might be familiar with. Repeating noise, loops and guitar feedback stuffed in a full-packed 2.46 clocking track that will sure end up high in the top 10 "most intense songs ever". That is not the case with I.T.D.O.O.M., a haunting ambient piece with a maximum of atmosphere. If the IDM-scene would be a little bit more open-minded, the long Count Down would score a lot of points there. The beats are almost danceable, Autechre bleeps do the rest. But the noise isn't forgotten, and that's probably why this isn't meant for everyone. Murder Licence ends with Nameless Song, not to be confused with the track with the same name on the full-length; this is a different one. The calm piano tunes give an enormous contrast with the other songs on the disc, but it gives you time to breath and think over what you've just heard...

The band doesn't seem to care to promote their music. No remixes, live shows or photo shoots... The interviews they give turn out to be very hilarious (read one at Noise Magazine) due to their idiosyncratic answers and unwillingness to communicate clearly in English language. They recently turned down a 1,200 capacity show with Andrew Weatherall in Tokyo, and instead worked on new songs; three new singles and another full length album are ready to be released in the near future. An attitude other artists might learn something from...

Despite the fact that this EP contains only seven tracks and 30 minutes of music, Murder Licence surpasses the full length Tomorrow Never Comes with ease. Especially production-wise the EP is much better, but one can obviously hear that the guys have been developing their capabilities of writing music as well. The originality and strangeness of Xinlisupreme is admirable and refreshing for those exploring the abstract walls of experimental "music". Or should we call this "art"? Art that is controversial in this era, but will be seen as historical landmarks in the future... Out on 7th October 2002 on Fat Cat.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Justin Faase
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