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Spoken word, the increasingly hip combination of poetry and music, has never really cut it in Tokyo. While New York, Chicago and London boast regular spoken-word club nights and poetry slams, one of Tokyo’s few regular events is the Johnbull-sponsored event dubbed Bookworm.

Among the fruits of Bookworm’s bimonthly mix of musicians and wordsmiths is Noise on Trash. Singer-guitarist Madoki Yamasaki comes off as the appropriately distant yet emotional poet, while drummer Tsutomu Kurihara and upright bassist Katsuhiko Sakamoto lay down a thumping set of beats that would be at home in any San Francisco coffee house circa 1962. Dressed as working-class heroes (leather jackets, caps, the occasional pair of dark sunglasses) the trio summon up visions of Kerouac and company.

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