Lighting up the Tokyo underground, Optrum’s mixture of hardcore attitude and fine art sensibility is yet another example of innovative Japanese creativity blending borders in music culture.

“We play instruments that can’t really be called instruments.  I play a fluorescent light tube and he plays lasers that shoot out of a drum kit,” optron (light tube) player Ito said (translated).

The duo was initially thought of as an art unit, but they never considered themselves to be that.  They’ve been playing in the underground live house circuits of Tokyo for years and have now established themselves as a hardcore band that will share the bill with other rock bands.

While the language barrier made any kind of technical explanation of the “optron” impossible, basically Ito plays a fluorescent light tube that has been modified to convert light signal into sound signal. 

Adorned with knobs, switches and an output to an amplifier, Ito’s optron is a one-of-a-kind piece of equipment.  Run through a slew of guitar effects pedals and into an amplifier cranked to 11, the overall sound is a heavy barrage of noise accompanied by an equally heavy barrage of light.

Most live houses in Tokyo have extremely professional light systems, but Optrum’s homemade light show tops them all.  The link between visual and audio is obvious and every surge of noise is complimented by a surge of light.  In the dark spaces, green lasers shoot in all directions from Yochiro Shin’s kick drum in a chaotic manner that reflects his maniac drumming style. 

Regardless of a total lack of melody, the sensational performance is completely entertaining and will leave you with one word.  Badass.