Watusi Zombie “N×A×R×A”


Special To The Japan Times

Nara-bred rock ‘n’ roll trio Watusi Zombie have played at Fuji Rock and toured in the United States. Their gigs are highly charged, chaotic affairs. Vocalist/guitarist Jugem Tanimura has been known to incoherently scream lyrics into a microphone decorated with a Buddha mask, and it’s not unusual to find all three sweat-drenched members abandoning the stage to thrash around on their guitars and drums (there’s no bass here, folks) in the middle of the audience.

Their fourth LP, “N×A×R×A,” starts with Tanimura singing the a capella cut “Kakumeijidai no Rock ‘n’ Roll” outdoors with crickets chirping in the background. He yells out “Watusi Zombie” as the track fades into the fantastic “Do Shiteru?” Raw and frenzied, “Do Shiteru?” comes remarkably close to capturing the group’s live energy with a wound-up Tanimura recklessly hollering ragged vocals over a bed of wild, hard-edged punk.

Although more varied and surprisingly restrained, the rest of the disc still has some quality moments. “I Know Miracle” is a straightforward garage rocker with hand claps and coolly crooned backup vocals from Mass of the Fermenting Dregs’ Natsuko Miyamoto. “Fukkatsu” is a melodic, 1960s-inspired pop number that flirts with doo-wop. “Harapeko-Rock” begins as an excellent noisy romp with lots of rowdy yelps before breaking into some sludgy Black Sabbath-like riffs, while the mellow “Thank You” is filled with psychedelic acoustic folk. The latter could make for a good breather during live performances — for both the band and their fans.

Watusi Zombie play the Naeba Shokudo stage at the Fuji Rock Festival in Naeba, Niigata Prefecture, on July 30 (10:40 p.m., ticket prices vary). The band’s “N×A×R×A” tour starts at Jazz à GoGo in Nara City on Aug. 24 (7 p.m.; ¥2,000 in adv.; [0742] 26-7145). For more information, visit www.watusizombie.com.