The Japanese three-piece Ultra Bidé has been together since the late 1970s, and this is the first I’m hearing of them. Researching the band, I learned they were on the forefront of the avant-garde, punk, and noise scenes in Japan. (In an alternate universe, I can see Ultra Bidé as the bastard child of a late 1970s Japanese version of Andy Warhol.) It seems as though those genre descriptions still apply on this latest album, DNA Vs DNA-c. This is their fifth release for Jello Biafra’s Alternative Tentacles label and their first U.S. release in over ten years. The music is chaotic—but still cohesive—with strong playing by the bass and drums and crazy, broken vocals. The band sings in English, but many of their lyrics make little to no sense: “Such a fuckin I’m a killing dead / Such a fuckin I’m a thinking dead / Such a fuckin I’m a living dead / What’s going on human race, what a liar” (“Civil Action”). Or: “Phase is massive power attack weapon” (“Phase Is Massive Power Attack Weapon”). At the risk of losing some listeners, I wish more non-native English speaking bands would sing in their native language. I’ve always appreciated those bands more because it doesn’t seem forced and the songs almost always flow more naturally. Ultra Bidé has obviously never concerned themselves with making popular music and it doesn’t seem to have changed now. I know there are fans of obscure Japanese avant-garde (is there ever non-obscure avant-garde music?) out there. They’ll probably eat this up, and I might have too, even with my lack of knowledge of the band, but the vocals really turned me off.
–kurt (Alternative Tentacles)