Music / Concert Previews

Moja "Super Ultra Gold 79"

by Shawn Despres

Special To The Japan Times

Since its 2006 formation, Tokyo two-piece Moja has strived to make its mark globally by showcasing a bass-and-drums-driven brand of rock ‘n’ roll at music festivals and club gigs in the United States, Canada, England, Italy and Hong Kong. The band’s 2009 eponymous debut was recorded in Virginia, and its “Super Ultra Gold 79” sophomore effort was made in New York and Tokyo. The duo will tour overseas again in April for a series of U.K. concerts in support of the new album.

“Super Ultra Gold 79” is being sold only on vinyl but is available as a free download from Moja’s website. There will be no CD pressing of the album. Drummer Masumi Sakurai explains the act’s reasoning for this, saying “Moja’s sound isn’t like general J-pop or J-rock music, so we don’t think it’s a good idea to try and imitate that way of promotion.”

Short album opener “Introduction” feels like the closing seconds of a soundcheck with a muddled mess of drumming and bass notes paving the way for the explosive dance-punk number “Hone.” The high-energy, distorted, groove-heavy track features a brief interlude in which bassist Haruhiko Higuchi’s voice is fed through a vocoder giving it a Melt-Banana-meets-Polysics feel. “China” begins with crashing cymbals and a take on that famous “Oriental riff” heard on tracks such as Carl Douglas’ “Kung-Fu Fighting” and The Vapors’ “Turning Japanese.” Higuchi’s filtered vocals become higher pitched as the poppy cut morphs into a thundering electro-rocker. “New Wave” comes next. Dominated by Sakurai’s powerful, frantic drumming and Higuchi’s yelps, the noisy, tightly-wound song builds into a fantastic, dizzying wall of sound.

Fans of loud, abstract underground rock should definitely give “Super Ultra Gold 79” a listen. Hell, you can’t beat the price, right?

Moja plays 4.14 in Hiroshima on March 9 (7 p.m.; ¥1,500 in advance; [082] 249-3024), and Hard Rain in Osaka on March 10 (6 p.m.; ¥2,000; [06] 6363-5557). For more information about shows and to download a copy of “Super Ultra Gold 79”, visit