Promising Response

Long ago, someone posted a question to the pure-japanese-rock mailing list on Yahoo!Groups — did any bands in Japan play shoegazer music?

It was a tough question to answer at first, but eventually, a few names emerged — Walrus, mono, Luminous Orange, downy.

Response is another name to add to the list.

The quartet performed at Japan Nite during SXSW 2004 in Austin, Texas, and Response’s self-titled debut finds the band standing toe-to-toe with the aforementioned groups.

Response, the album, starts off with a dissonant hook that dissolves into a wash of heavily distorted guitar on “Jet Kids”.

From there, the band veers from cryptic to substantial.

“Slip” and “Jaguarnaut” are the two most accessible songs on the album — the former with its four-on-the-floor beat, the latter for its agitated beat.

“Wait to Know” and “Air”, on the other hand, feature free-floating, unanchored vocal melodies against ethereal backgrounds.

Response can get pretty inscrutible as well — half the length of “Revival” is spent on disjointed, random samples, while “Sound Response” has an odd, clumsy riff.

The album concludes with the token, albeit nice, acoustic track, “Superb View”.

Although still a relatively new band, Response’s self-titled album displays a rare maturity. Response has written some strong material for its first time out.

The more crytpic moments deaden the pace of the album a bit, but on the whole, Response is a band with a promising future.