Review: Agjijer - "demo"

Agjijer - demo
(2017 Self-Released)

Math-Rock's a fun genre tag to toss around in a music review -- it's a cute classification that lends itself perfectly to numerical metaphor. Unfortunately, it's also a pretty imprecise way to describe music. Think about it this way: when I use the term "Math-Rock" without any given context, what springs to mind? Frenetic instrumental fret-mashing? Distorted screamo recorded in someone's basement? Bittersweet weaves of American Football-inspired noodling? Most musical mathematicians fall into one of three of these sonic categories. In the case of Tokyo's Agjijer, though, the band's untitled demo tape falls into each of them, spanning their timbral and compositional breadth over the course of seven short minutes.

Opener "henteko" channels the jittery jazz-punk of fIREHOSE, volleying dissonant chords off a wall of digital hi-hats like a tennis player practicing their returns. Bass chases the rhythm guitar as it zig-zags its way through impressive contortions before unfurling into a spacey psych-rock solo. The track shows off the band's technical proficiency while getting the brainy weirdness out of the way early -- it's a good choice for an opening track, and the demo's most replayable offering. 

Track 2 cranks up the speed and the volume, transitioning a screeching peal of sci-fi synthesizer into a burst of black-metallic thrash. At 66 seconds, "kowabali" is tough to process on an initial listen. Textures supercollide against driving percussion, masking the record's only vocals (barely-decipherable yowls) beneath a shade of overcast clouds. The audio cuts out mid-verse. It's a flash-flood, a torrential downpour that quickly dries up in the summer heat. Intense, but gone before you know it.

"somemore" is Agjijer's most traditional track, but also its prettiest. It's a mid-tempo groove in the vein of TTNG, lavishing gently strummed open chords on its chilled-out arrangement, then leaping headfirst into an Explosions in the Sky crescendo. It's a solid, serviceable counterpoint to its predecessors that makes for a decent conclusion.

Though not entirely cohesive, Agjijer's demo is a showcase of the band's versatility and knack for setting distinct moods. With the potential on display here, the Tokyo math-rock outfit could very well have the ability to drop an innovative, genre-bending LP in the future. I'm looking forward to seeing what's in store.