Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan at the Mercury Lounge

In the footprints of the Boredoms, Acid Mothers Temple and Boris, Japanese post-metal tends to exhibit a skewed idea of heavy metal, along the lines of what J-art scholars could imagine Black Sabbath to sound like from the cover of Sabbath Bloody Sabbath. Yamantaka // Sonic Titan, a Canadian septet of art school students, distinguish themselves by sounding like a band of metalheads imagining themselves as Japanese artists. Their name comes from a Buddhist deity and a Sleep song, and their music comes from another cosmos.

Entering the room in silence and war paint, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan took the stage with a set of high school-level stage props that accumulated into transcendence once the band entered, walking through the crowd under a hand-crafted dragon. Their instruments were disguised with decorated sheets and foamcore clouds, and the band was adorned in costumes that ranged from geishas to shredded garbage bags. Starting at their quietest, with the childlike "Queens," they worked their way into a noisy whirlwind on tracks like "Reverse Crystal // Murder of a Spider" and "Hoshi Neko," the latter evoking Wendy Carlos and Trent Reznor hosting a Ukiyo-e show.

Despite their DIY production, YT // ST think big. They eschew rock n' roll spontaneity in favor of a rehearsed, calculated production on a punk rock budget. The meshing of values makes for a show as idiosyncratic as their music, and by the end of their set, I felt like I had just survived a hurricane. They had played for about 40 minutes.

Openers Yvette played a promising, effects-heavy form of noise rock.

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