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Zouave's Blue


Self released on the Internet

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Xinlinsupreme are a Japanese noise band who released the lovely album Tomorrow Never Comes back in 2002. That album was released on the ultra-trendy Fat Cat label out of the UK, and apparently since then Xinlisupreme have embraced the internet as their label. That is, rather than actually releasing their music in a physical form, Xinlisupreme are now making their releases available online. I wonder why? Did the band experience label difficulties, like so many do, and decide to take matters into their own hands with their website? Or are they a forward-looking band, realizing that internet distribution can serve to level the playing field for a band in Japan, which is so far from the markets in the US and EU that will really enjoy their music?

I suppose that's not important, but i am moderately curious. At any rate, Xinlisupreme are releasing an Internet album in July of 2005 on their website: Shortly before the release of this album, the band made a "single" available for download. It contains two versions of the song Zouave's Blue as well as JPG files of the sleeve, so that if you desire to burn this to a CD, you can print out a cover. That's nice of them, but i doubt that many people will go to the trouble to burn just two tracks onto a CD!

If you actually read the text on the sleeve (something which, i admit, i have not done in the few months i have had the thing, until just now when i am preparing the review), you will see the following text:

"XINLISUPREME encourages you to share this single over the Internet via P2P software, to upload to your server and do like that. When you do so, please do that with whole package. The reason XINLISUPREME admits your online-noncommercial use is that XINLISUPREME considers your use will attribute to XINLISUPREME's promotion. So XINLISUPREME thanks you very much."

Okay, well, aside from some of the odd Japanese-English grammar, that answers my previous question. The band want exposure, and this is an easy way for them to do that.

Now, that said, should you give them exposure? Well, let's take a look at the two tunes here. The first is Zouave's Blue (Online Single Mix), which is a pretty fun tune. This is an organ and guitar event, catchy and happy, with a hint of vocals buried in the mix, and a chugging drum machine beat. The song has an almost garage-rock feel. Well, that is, before you consider that Xinlisupreme bury it under a wall of fuzzy feedback, which makes this tune sound a lot like early Jesus and Mary Chain. It's catchy, retro feeling, and fuzzed all to hell and back. It's messy, chaotic and, well, fun. I enjoy it, and think that this is a pretty good tune. However, i know that many people find that level of distortion to be annoying, so be warned.

The "b-side" of the single is Zouave's Blue (Alternative Mix). This is pretty much the same song, only with more rhythm (the drum machine is really cranking it out here) and no organ. Additionally, one of the guitarists went a bit crazy with his Phase Shifter effect pedal, so the guitar really chimes and swirls in the foreground. If you liked the other version, chances are that you will like this take on the song. I actually find that i like the stronger percussion here, but wish they had the organ in this version.

Overall, well, the two versions of Zouave's Blue reveal it to be a crazy 60's psychedelic song with organ and guitars, all redone by someone who has listened to The Jesus and Mary Chain's Psychocandy a few too many times. It's 3:39 (the Alternate Mix is one second shorter) of catchy beats and grinding fuzzed out guitar. Either you'll like it or you'll hate it. I enjoy it, although i find that the Xinlisupreme sound wears me out after a while. All that feedback just gets ... tiring. Then again, i had that issue with the actual Jesus and Mary Chain releases. However, listening to a single is perfect.

In general, this is pretty good stuff. It's unique music, and i know that many people will hate it for the sheer chaos of the intense distortion. But for those who can see the beauty in the madness, well, it's there. And, at the very least, the song is free, so that gives some of you readers who have no idea what i am talking about with my descriptions of "overwhelming feedback" a chance to listen. So, what the heck, why not take a chance and give it a download?

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