Drum Eyes - Gira Gira

by James Bray Rating:6.5 Release Date:2010-08-09

Drum Eyes is the latest incarnation of Brighton based musician and chip music stalwart DJ Scotch Egg. Originally from Japan, DJ Scotch Egg's real name is the much more exotic Shigeru Ishihara or 'Shige'. Over the past 10 years or so he has established himself as a DJ and musician by channeling expansive electronic music through Gameboy sound chips. He has recently been experimenting with live instrumentation and Gira Gira was recorded with his new five piece band. The music on Drum Eyes' first release is entirely instrumental and is put together rather like a idiosyncratic DJ set. Understandably, the video game abstraction of the music on Gira Gira is underpinned by complex drum tracks. Shige emphasis on the drums is tempered by a melee of synths, alt-rock guitars and 16-bit musical flourishes; it sounds a bit like a sci-fi John Bonham playing with Crystal Castles.

The opening track, '50-50', centres itself somewhere between space opera and space ruckus. The first half of the song is ambient, being built around a synth melody. In the second half the tempo increases; the electronic arpeggios hit warp speed, the frenetic drumming imposes itself and this is all punctuated by exuberant Extra-Life! pings. The second track, 'Future Police', is the most melodic of the all the songs on Gira Gira. It's grainy, militaristic processed beats and sound bytes back a vaguely oriental melody. It's like the theme tune to a communist era, epic Russian video-game; it's quite rousing. Shige layers and edits the various tracks to create an interesting and evocative sound.

After the computer-game inflected retro-futurism of the first two tracks, the album takes a slightly different direction. The third song is called 'Future Yakuza' and it's chaotic soundscape is built around rhythmic drumming and visceral guitar sounds. At 10 minutes, this portentous sound-tracking sounds more like something from Neu! as opposed to Sonic the Scotch Egg (Shige). This ambient abstraction continues with the foreboding drumming and the distorted bass of 13 magicians and the interstellar lounge music of final track, 'Hana B'.

This release shows that DJ Scotch Egg is a fore-runner and an influence of groups like Crystal Castles, Late of the Pier and Sleigh Bells. Shige is somewhat of a shaman of the chiptune genre and he revels in both the kitschness and the expansive abstraction of computer generated music. However, Gira Gira lacks coherence as a record; Shige enthusiastically flits between genres with little else but the drums and his signature midi sound blips to create a sense of cohesion. There is nothing as infectious here as the indie electronic pop of Takako Minekawa's 'Fantastic Cat' but Shige presents us with an interesting take on contemporary electronica. Drum Eyes' Gira Gira will not be troubling the mainstream, but fans of the genre and musos should take note and it will be interesting to see how well this distinctively digital music works in a live context.

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