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CD REVIEW

Qomolangma Tomato “Camouflage”

by Shawn Despres

Qomolangma Tomato came together in Yokohama in 2003 while all four of its members were in their early 20s. Influenced by posthardcore, math rock and punk, their early material earned the band invites to perform on Summer Sonic’s Tokyo stages in 2006 and 2007.

Mellowing as they approach their 30s, Qomolangma Tomato’s third full-length, “Camouflage,” is dominated by alternative rock sounds. Catchy lead cut “Relation” and the closer “Are You Ready? (I’m Not Ready at All)” are well-suited for modern-rock radio play lists. Naruto Ishii’s ragged vocals and simple English lyrics, along with whistling and hand claps, add an extra lightness to the poppy, Blind Melon-ish folk number “Get Back My Mind.” Falling somewhere between spoken-word and rapping, Ishii’s unique delivery on “Mozaiku” works wonderfully with the minimal but soulful, jazzy instrumentation turned out by his bandmates.

The most memorable moments on “Camouflage” come when Qomolangma Tomato revisits their fiery origins. The tense, complex “Suisou No Naka” has Ishii yelping over distorted guitar chords and rapid-fire drumming from Mikio Daikuhara. The angular rhythms of “Down Flight” are gradually played out before an awesome wave of heavy effects adds an experimental edge that culminates in a bout of noisy feedback. These two cuts will leave more than a few listeners wishing the guys weren’t trying to grow up so quickly on the rest of the record.

The first pressing of “Camouflage” is available with a limited-edition eight-song live DVD that was filmed last October during a concert in Tokyo.