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Dec 23

[review] Gelatine: Gie Ji Gaii

gie ji gaiiSometimes you have to see musicians live to get them. I had previewed the bands playing the Far East to East Showcase at Webster Hall prior to the event on Sept. 27 , and Gelatine didn’t grip me instantly. My first impression, based off performance videos of singer Seiko shrieking and marching around in a diaper, was that the New York-based Japanese band belonged squarely to the subset of wacky Japanese punk rock, where the hyper music is matched by the band members’ eccentric stage presence. Though I enjoy several such bands, Gelatine didn’t strike me as adding anything new or distinctive to the formula.

That impression changed when I saw the band live. Entering The Studio after attending AKB48’s glossy and highly packed pop concert, I was struck by the dim lighting and intimate feel of the tiny bar in Webster Hall—and how well opener Gelatine matched them. I wasn’t wrong about the band’s strangeness. A bondage-clad Seiko shrieked, stomped and headbanged to the wild music, guitarist Jun delivered his MCs in a novel metal growl, and keyboardist Waiko wore a schoolgirl uniform. But their music and performance had a distinctive dark, deranged mood suited to an underground club show.

Gie Ji Gaii is Gelatine’s first album, released nine years into the band’s lifetime, and it recreates the live experience admirably. The raw production is easy on the ears and makes me feel like I’m back in The Studio on Sept. 27. Even without the visual element, Gelatine’s murky punk has a prominent gloomy undertone that adds dimension to their music and anchors their hyperactivity, a refreshing change of pace from peers content to be superlatively happy. “Let’s Go Gelatine” sounds chaotic and agitated for a band theme song. The grungy, stop-start “‘Cause My Mom Said So” sounds manic, angry, evil, disturbed, and mischievous–all at once.

People often go to concerts because they’re fans of the performers’ recorded music, but Gelatine is one band for which the opposite works better. See them live first, then check out the CD. You’ll understand their music better that way.