Not all bands should be described in the abstract, adjective-laden overwriting found in many music reviews. Shiko Shiko is not one of such bands. Ostensibly, they’re a group from a northern area of France and sing in English (maybe?) with a nonsensical Japanese sounding name. But between the high energy guitars, up-tempo rhythms, frenzied drumming, and part-tribal / part-bonkers beats, there is a big-time sound. It’s a cacophonic daydream during a car crash or the lush sounds of an enraged elephant in an electronic forest or the turbo button on a lightsaber. I suspect they would embrace this kind of thing. When UnDisqueUnJour asked for a band description, they replied, “It is spatial, brutal, tectonics, like an earthquake in winter” …so let’s roll with that.
Shiko Shiko is a Frankenstein monster of NOFX (minus the politics), Vampire Weekend, and J-Pop. Made to be catchy, all at once dancey, noisy, heavy, and perpetually eccentric. The songs are charmingly schizophrenic, more unconventional than experimental, overwhelming you with frantic enthusiasm and unfettered thrashing, like skimming down a waterslide on acid.
Aquapark is their most recent EP, and also the name for the dynamic title track. Although the name and the artwork make it seem like the band has some special affinity for aquatic life, that isn’t exactly the case. They explain:
Maybe all the aquatic influences come from the song ‘En Attendant Cousteau’ from Jean-Michel Jarre. It is the perfect song for an aquarium. In our music, the aquapark is metaphoric. It’s a thing that everyone and the media say is beautiful and is as great as heaven. But in fact, it’s just crap. And you are finally faced with the truth, it’s one of the saddest day in your life.
The title track is a furious, amorphous beast of a song, reminiscent of The Very Best covering Vampire Weekend. It happily cartwheels through plucky guitar strumming, undulating rhythms, screaming vocals, and funky breaks that build to anthemic crescendo. It also samples Slim Whitman’s cherubic wail from “Indian Love Call,” a song you might remember as the alien kryponite from “Mars Attacks!”
The B-side “DPMMPD” (short for Danse Pour Moi Mon Pélican d’Oré) translates to Dance Me To My Golden Pelican, which rules. Much darker than its counterpart, there’s more screaming, driving drum beats, and intense guitars which build and build between the ebb and flow of distorted vocals and blaring electronic bleeps. By the end, it fucking wails.
While their riff-age is closer to the bombast of Sleigh Bells than Boris’ stoner metal, the Japanese influences are undeniable.
“We’re crazy about Asia, especially Japan. As kids, we read manga and watched anime…above all, we’re fond of video games, oldies and new ones. Japanese music is great, we love it,” the band tells THE BOMBER JACKET. “Polysics was the first live show we saw together when we started the band. We also listen bands like Boredoms, Melt Bananas…and traditional Asian music is also a part of our influences. In our first album we use a traditional Asian instrument, a shaminsen. We really would like to get a big Taïko. It’s a percussion instrument from Japan. It sounds massive.”
However, the Asian influence translates as more of an aesthetic than any particular sound. For example, the spandex babes in the Aquapark video, their first EP Bukkake, or the kawaii sideways smilies on their Bandcamp. It’s worth mentioning all of their recent EPs are online, which listeners can BUY NOW for the low amount of “name your price.”
Rounding out the EP is a deconstructive remix of “Aquapark” by Magical Mistakes. Swapping the vocals for jangly percussion and a re-engineered tempo gives the song room to breath while maintaining it’s fun-lovin’ vibe.
Look for their full length this October on their label Laybell.