Ladies and gentlemen of the jury:
My clients, the Mad Capsule Markets, are accused of many things. The prosecution has tried very hard to paint them in the worst light possible, and I salute my learned colleague for knowing so many polysyllabic words. I may have to go invest in a thesaurus just to keep up! [Laughter from the gallery.] But these charges, well-put as they may be, are demonstrably false and scurrilous in intent. My clients are misunderstood and wrongly accused. Let me answer the charges one by one.
First: it has been maintained that the Mad Capsule Markets, henceforth referred to as the MCMs, sound like they have been worshipping false idols, namely Alec Empire and the late Carl Crack and their group, Atari Teenage Riot. It is true that the MCMs have pursued some similar paths as Atari Teenage Riot, combining slamming electronica with good old hardcore punk metal thrash. And it is true that the MCMs did in fact tour with and record with Mr. Empire.
But let’s not put the cart before the horse. The Mad Capsule Markets are a band of 14 glorious years in their home country of Japan. Bass player and songwriter Takeshi “Y” Ueda, vocalist Kyono, and drummer Motokatsu Miyagami founded the group in 1990 from the ashes of their old band, Berrie, which had toured with the Red Hot Chili Peppers. In the last 11 years, they have produced many very loud albums that sell in Japan like tiramisu shakes and schoolgirl panties. They were well-beloved stars long before they were even associated with Mr. Empire and Mr. Crack and their cohorts. This is because they are able to kick it with the loud computer drill-beats and the homicidal guitar noise on their own merits, owing no allegiance to German plug-and-scream bands at all. The MCMs rock extremely hard, it is true — but their screams and Jericho-destroying walls of pure Metal Machine Music-inspired painful noise are all their own.
Furthermore, Atari Teenage Riot is often described as sounding like either the bottom of a Sterno-damaged bean can, the primordial sludge from which some creatures refused to emerge, or, perhaps, ass. My clients, on the other hand, are always able to throw actual tunes into the mix. Sometimes, those tunes are harsh sandblasted post-apocalyptic anthemic melodies, as on cuts like “Out/Definition” and the relentless “Restart!” At other times, they have a Ramones feel — “All the Time at Sunny Beach” is very much an homage to “Rockaway Beach” and “Blitzkrieg Bop”, with extra squiggles and d’n’b riddims thrown in — or a Pixies feel (“Multiplies”) or even a Super Furry Animals feel (the ultra-weird-pop of “Good Girl”). They’re the triple threat, ladies and gentlemen: they rock, they pop, and they’re great for dancing.
Secondly, it has also been stated that my clients only sound cool because they are Japanese, and this seems to be a pretty good year for Japanese music. It is true that this year has seen artistic breakthroughs and commercial inroads from the Boredoms, OOIOO, Acid Mothers Temple, and others. But this is purely coincidence. All the above-named albums were released earlier, and are only coming to our shores now. This album itself was released in Japan in 1999 — their most recent record, 010, is reputed to rock even harder. So let’s not blame a superb record by a superb band for an accident of marketing.
Furthermore, most of the band’s lyrics on this record are in English. To be sure, it is a fractured punk-rock English that is unintelligible at any speed; and the language thing has yet to be worked out all the way. But things could be worse. Here’s the chorus from “Jag”: “Jumble jag air! / Watch out, I’ll get up!”. It ain’t Shakespeare, people. But it sounds more literate than Limp Bizkit, doesn’t it?
And Takeshi’s words are capable of real sweetness at times. “Good Girl” is a song to be played for Motokatsu’s baby daughter when she gets married in 20 years, and — in its broken-English way — perfectly expresses what fathers are always thinking about for their daughters: “To good girl: What do you think of now? / To good girl: What do you dream of now? / To good girl: What do you think about now? / To good girl: There is glory to you”. Heart-warming.
However, there are some charges my clients must confess are true. Yes, this album is only 41 minutes long. But they do include a video for the single “Pulse”, so that makes up for it somewhat, does it not? And yes, some of the songs sound the same. If repeating perfect music is a crime, then the MCMs are in fact guilty as charged.
Similarly, we stipulate to the charges of causing whiplash in everyone who has ever heard this album. Tell us how much the neckbraces cost, and we will pay. And as for all the poor rap-rock bands all around the U.S.: yes, this album has kicked your asses, but good. You probably do deserve compensation. We will leave that up to the jury.
In summation, ladies and gentlemen, my clients are nice polite young men from Japan who just happen to have found the sound of the future. I implore you: do not punish them for this. Rather, celebrate them, laud them. Realize that there is glory to them.