They say they're not a jamband, however with Garcia-esq guitar filters, a psychedelic light show, and ten minute plus grooves might make you think otherwise. Kansai-based super group PARA is one of the latest projects of ex-Boredoms member and Japanese underground guru Seiichi Yamamoto. Joined by prodigious drummer Muneomi Senju (ex-Boredoms, Urichipangoon) and a slew of Osaka based all-stars, the level of musicianship in PARA is on par with the best in Japan.
"We play dance music you never heard," Yamamoto said, and although his technical approach to music seemed to get lost in translation, he was probably referring to the rich compositional element of PARA. While jambands often rely on improvisation and a driving four on the floor beat to carry them through crunchy grooves, PARA rips through jazz arrangements with complex prog-style riffs and polyphonic puzzles. It's quite a departure from your average dance music.
PARA's compositions often have a hint of cheese-dick master Pat Matheny, but without the extraordinary solos or dedication to neo-contemporary jazz. With attention to Moog synthesizers and the kind of festival atmosphere that makes you want to eat a gooball or join a drum circle, PARA seems to make you want to just close your eyes and watch colors and shapes glitter in your eyelids. But wait, that's exactly what their killer combo of light show and musical performance provides.
PARA recently released a new album called Curriculum on Sublime Records. The album has five tracks and none of them are under eight minutes long. It's a fun safari ride through uncommon dance rhythms, catchy riffs and impressive technical cohesion. Just when you thought it was impossible to dance to a song in 5/4, the first track "JACK" proves that it's impossible NOT to dance to a song in 5/4.
Drummer Muneomi Senju told us that Japanese music culture is very exciting because many artists are searching for new avenues to take music and are trying to find the next big thing for music. It's not just that there are many people searching for this, but also that these like-minded people are starting to find each other. PARA is the latest incarnation of this notion and they are certainly striving for something new and exciting.
While free online translators are a generally a great way to butcher a language, sometimes the flaws in language end up summing things up better than a native speaker. A line of translation from their website reads, "Listen to the minimal ensemble becomes new, beautiful strange, fresh surprise is formed." Got that? Okay.