A Japanese Lightning Bolt? Moja has been shattering eardrums for around three years in Tokyo and their riff heavy, distorted thumping and clanging is sure to get your head banging. The power duo consisting of drummer Masumi and bassist Haruhiko crank out psychotic rock with enough earth rattling force to rearrange your organs and give you a sonic lobotomy.
For their performance at Motion in Shinjuku, they set up in the middle of the floor instead of on stage. They believed this got them closer to the audience because they could feel the audience and vice versa. It was an interesting scene having the audience form a circle around the band and the whole atmosphere took a step toward intimacy. It felt more like watching a show at a basement party than at a venue (despite the fact that Motion is on the 5th floor).
The sheer power that the band commanded was impressive and at the risk of sounding sexist, Masumi could seriously rock for a girl. Something about heavy rocker chicks, it reminded me of watching Cassandra wail out "Fire". She’s a babe! If she were a president, she’d be Babraham Lincoln. Sha-wing!
Drummer Masumi Sakurai spent five years studying at Berklee College of Music in Boston, which seemed to harbor a deeper education than simply teaching her how to rock. “In Japanese school they teach you how to play the instrument, but it’s more like imitating. In America, I learned how to be creative and use the instrument as a tool to express myself.”
A possible explanation for the common criticism that Japanese musicians are merely imitations or copies of Western music: blame it on the conservative Japanese school system that hammers away a group mentality and shies away from any kind of individualism. How can this formula equate any kind of creativity?
Masumi went on to say that the Japanese system isn’t necessarily bad and because they are exposed to so much foreign information and influences from abroad, they can learn from this. Many Japanese musicians start out imitating, but then they make it their own and create a Japanese version.
Like US power duos such as Lightning Bolt and The USAisamonster, Moja cranks out highly skillful heavy rock with an off-kilter creative twist and a performance that will knock your socks off. They’re heading off to the studio (actually in Virginia, USA) this Fall 2008 to record an album, so keep your eyes peeled for this Moja release.