Gai “Extermination” (Blue Jug / Violent Party EP 001)

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If Confuse invented the Kyushu noise-core sound, Gai made it a genre. Even more obviously influenced by Chaos UK, Gai set the standard: trebly guitar, tin-pan drum rolls, incomprehensible vocals, and extremely simple songs, plus a sleeve with artwork in the doodling-with-the-free-hand-while-in-a-straight-jacket style invented by Disorder. More so than Confuse, Gai hemmed closely to the UK sound, with barmy streetpunk song structures. As the band evolved into Swankys, the streetpunk influence was itself taken over by a ‘77/fun-punk influence, and the band became an odd amalgam of noise-core guitars and bouncy, silly punk. To be honest, I think Gai’s flexi is the weakest record on this list, but it is important because it defines the genre. Dozens of bands, such as Dust Noise, Screaming Noise, Donkeys, Chaos Ch, ad noisiem, have directly copied Gai and Swankys, although Gai, far more than Confuse, strike me as themselves copyists. Swankys developed their own sound, but Gai’s flexi doesn’t have much of its own character, even down to not having a clear recording, just like Disorder’s “Perdition.” (The -ion endings endemic to Kyushu ’84 were certainly a tribute to that 12".)

The “Damaging Noise” demo is noisier and perhaps more Discharge-influenced than the flexi, aided by its neanderthal-rolling-around-in-the-cave-gutter vocals and a few killer d-beat raw punk tunes. “Break” mixes Kyushu noise-core with straight Discharge riff rip, whereas “Fallen Angel’s Balls” (I don’t think that means what they think it means) is probably the closest Gai get to the bizarre noisy guitar-work of Confuse (avec le d-beat), and, finally, “Know” is a speedy shot of Stockholm-like mangel. Definitely a prime example of parallel evolution.

The two-sided, black, blank-label flexi has two highlights to my mind: the artwork and “Blood Spit Night (for ever 76).” Looking at the sleeve, one can’t help but wonder if Gai thought Blue Jug was going to lay out for a full eight inches of noise because, obviously, part of the artwork wasn’t within the crop marks. But more likely, that’s how they wanted it. If they could fit all four band members on a scooter, they could fit the word “extermination” on the sleeve. Note the retouching, consisting of Chaos UK and Violent Party tatts. As for the back, well, it’s even more clear something was cut off, but we get the point. On to “Blood Spit Night: uncoincidentally, like Confuse’s song “Spending Loud Night,” this song has a totally different sound from the rest of the band’s oeuvre—well, until they made a career out of it as Swankys. But prior to that, “Blood Spit Night” was one of the only examples of UK snotpunk cross-pollinated with “Driller Killer”-style dental surgery. It’s a slow singalong tune that bears no resemblance to the sound of the Portland band that would take the song’s name as its own. It’s a song that’ll make for a good to pogo to dislodge some of the dirt that accumulated in your ears after rolling around on the ground during the first five tracks on the flexi. 

In conclusion, the incestuous relationship between the members of Gai and other Kyushu noise-core bands remains unclear to me, and I’d love to read a well-written translation of a retelling of the history. Based on the somewhat confusing (ugh) liner notes of the Sieg Heil LP on Overthrow, Confuse taught Gai and Sieg Heil, who shared members, how to produce the classic fuzz/noise guitar sound (and showed them how to dress in proper UK LBS&A style). It seems that Gai, led by Swanky on vocals, started as Swankys and then reverted back to that name later. They received their influence from Confuse at the same time both bands, along with Sieg Heil, and presumably others like Gess and No Cut (who both went on to employ melody—The horror! The horror!), were tearing up the live houses of Fukuoka and Hakata. Confuse’s “Indignation” demo, though not the first recording (recorded in April 1984), was the shot across the bow for Japanese noise-core, as a fully realized, cohesive release of 13 songs defining a new style of music. Confuse’s “Nuclear Addicts” flexi and Gai’s flexi were recorded within a few days of each other in August and September 1984. Both flexis were preceded by Gai’s “Damaging Noise” demo, Sieg Heil’s “Nazism” demo, and the “Indignation” demo, all on Violent Party. As far as I can tell, Violent Party used two concomitant numbering schemes for their flexi and cassette releases (“Nazism” and “Nuclear Addicts” are both #2). CD and LP re-releases of both of Gai’s demos have been intermittently available in Japan. There is also a CD called “1981–1985 Violent Party,” said to include otherwise unreleased studio tracks from those years. Finally, there is the internet rumor, originating with Wedge of 9 Shocks Terror, that Gai covered Electric Eels, which, if true, could cause a rethinking of the genesis of the entire noise-core genre, but I need to hear this cover myself first. This sort of minutiae isn’t particularly interesting to most people, I assume, but many blogs and fanzines out there talk a big game when it comes to obsessing over this music, with very little new or useful information (or even writing!) available. I blame filesharing to a degree, because hopelessly obscure music is now much more widely available, but it is decontextualized and stripped of the original packaging, which tends to help situate it, with dates, thanks lists, line-ups, etc.—though shoddy bootlegs and unavailable legitimate reissues are to blame too. Anyway, all that aside, Gai’s flexi is an essential piece of any museum-quality noise-core collection, but listen to those three tracks from “Damaging Noise” first if you’ve never heard these maniacs.

For a translation of this article in French by Alex Simon, click here. This translation was originally published in Ratcharge fanzine #13.

Violent Party gig photos, from an unknown source