Urga Shinjuku (May 6, 2006) — Not being up for a whole night of Goth at Tokyo Dark Castle, I opted for the next best thing – Electrock Circus. The name pretty much sums up the event, electro, electronic, rock – sure its not Goth, but with a soundscape like that you will often find an act or two from the dark side of the tracks.

Electrock Circus mixes bands with DJ-style sound artists – ranging from mixing to complete sound construction (or destruction). Personally, I’m a band lover as I like the sounds to have lots of action onstage, but some sound artists unleash a lot of energy and visual impact during their performances. The event keeps a good balance between the two performance styles so everyone should be happy.

Goths were about
A larger than normal showing of night-crawlers was evident tonight for several reasons. 1) Tokyo Dark Castle would start soon after Electrock Circus at nearby Marz, 2) Control Freak who sometimes plays at Midnight Mess was on and 3) there would be a set by master dark industrial unit, Sino – all cool (pity I had to leave before Sino’s set…).

System Error (pix)
System Error’s arrangement was a two-person unit with a femme mixer-sound master in a maid outfit while standing behind her Mac, and an ax-wielding vocalist in SS-style uniform. The sound was generally a nice mix of electronic and digi-rock, although the stage impact was a little light with both members busy multi-tasking the sound production. I liked it, but think a third person is needed to give a stronger impact onstage – just my thoughts.

Nebulae (pix)
A new project and the surprise gem of my night. The band calls their style spiritual heavy rock, but I like to think of it as a twisted hard emo-rock with flash. The vocalist, Ben (also Xenophobia) can ride the songs’ moods with constrained emotion or just letting things rip, and the lead guitarist knows when to get his freak on during the set. This band can blitz you with noise, and pull back for the softer parts. I liked this whole performance. They will be @ Otsuka Red Zone on June 16.

Control Freak (pix)
True to the name, Control Freak had everything in the hands of one man, Matt Redding. It was a power drums’n'bass performance with machines generating the heavy noise backing soundscape. Standing behind his electronic drum pads, the Control Freak did not have much latitude for antics onstage, but he had a strong presence. It was more a hypnotic effect as you watched the man at work and enjoyed the beats. I might not have felt the urge to run up to the stage screaming, but I really liked this performance a lot.

Eingezogen Gestalt (pix)
Veteran band with serious cyber-industrial/eletro-rock sounds. I really got into this two-man set and they obviously knew their craft well. Powerful and in full control, Eingezogen Gestalt are certainly worth checking out. Partway through the set, a curve-ball was thrown out with a girl in a boiler suit and gas mask taking the center stage. That was pretty amazing too (Gasmask girl pix)

Kwik Kick Mummy Lee (pix
I have seen board-based sound creation acts that feel like you’re looking at the DJ-booth in a disco, but KKML is totally dynamic, pulling off the sound-mixer mad-scientist routine (scrunching away and draping himself across the platform), and getting (sometimes literally) into the crowd. You can see the audience just ignite when the set starts and the whole set just rocks. Great sound and totally connects with the audience.

I piked before I could see Sino or Far Eastern Eclipse (the acts I originally came to see), but I was happy to see what I did.

Next Electrock Circus is @ Shinuku Urga on August 26, 2006.

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