Total f*****g stingray from Japan’s early ‘80s indie/punk scene. Not to be confused (nor likely to be) with Boyd Rice’s noise jag, this NON cut her teeth as bassist in Tokyo duo Maria 023. In 1979 she performed an unbilled solo set at the apparently legendary Drive to 80s concert: her intense, unadorned and presumably batsh**-crazy bass/vocals attack sealed her rep on the spot. From there she formed NON BAND: ploughing through various line-up changes before settling into a trio with Kinosuke Yamagishi (sometime contributor to the mighty E.D.P.S.) on violin and clarinet, and Mitsuru Tamagaki on drums (he's the staggeringly well-dressed boy on the cover, out-Stephen-Pastelling Stephen Pastel two or three years ahead of schedule.)
Released as a 10” on the then-fledgling Telegraph label (home to Manekineko Kagekidan ++), this self-titled EP (at this price let's call it a mini-LP) is a wild, zoned and supremely satisfying record: ultra-minimalist and hard-hitting, but playful with it, bringing to mind, at various points, Model Citizens, Raincoats, Phew, The Fall, or even perhaps a more monochrome Maximum Joy. I have no idea what NON is singing about (she seems to be variously raging, mocking, arguing with herself) but it doesn’t matter, the sheer phonetic pleasure of it will blow you away. Absence of guitars is key: all the textural and harmonic colour (black!), and all the brute-force, comes from clarinet, violin, bass, vocals and those DRUMS – yeah Mitsuru isn’t just a snappy dresser. Despite the relentless no wave forward thrust of it all, a more antique Japanese folk-quality is also at work: the rhythm of ‘Duncan Dancin’’ was apparently based on the ohayashi music played at the summer Neputa festival in NON’s northern hometown, Hirosaki (something we’re all obviously intimately familiar with). NON BAND imploded soon after the 10" came out, and despite a 2009 reunion and a few live recordings, it remains their only properly documented studio effort. Which of course is perfect and right. Remastered and re-cut to 12" for this reissue, with download code and sleevenotes from Telegraph's boss in the bargain. A revelation.