While not cutting off ties forever, Japanther’s Ian Vanek is centering energy on a solo project. Calling it Howardian, lo-fi fuzz sounds do not stray far from Japanther’s own. The debut album, Land of the Low Tides is out now through BUFU Records.
Releasing a debut album without the comfort of a band to fall back on can be scary, but lucky for Vanek, Japanther’s large dent in the art/post-punk music scene is deep enough to already get him a following. And with Land of Low Tides being pretty wacky and many-sided, it is nothing fans of Japanther can’t handle. Eleven songs of distorted guitar, miscellaneous and obscure recordings and Vanek’s sluggish lyrics, it is an album filled with catchy singles. Album opener, “Be Fruitful” boasts a buzzing power chord and staticy needle-scraping swipe noises. “Dog Food For Dinner” is a 49 second track promoting a puppy formula ad as Vanek sings “All bark, no bite.”
As with Japanther’s tracks, especially true for 2003’s release Leather Wings, all but one track on Land of Low Tides are short and fast. Although brief, the tracks are loaded and dense. “Marble Meshes” is a 6 minute guitar-crushing oozer. “Chunking” a lighter, more melodic track is permeated with sparkling synths and a recording saying “They’ve won the battle, but they haven’t won the war.” Familiar in composition, but foreign in so many others, Vanek has created a jumble of sounds that keep you guessing and surprised the whole way through.
Land of Low Tides is noisey, apathetic and droney, but Vanek hides a lot underneath all of it. A smart collection of effortlessly worn in tracks, Land of Low Tides is clever, informal, and a little rough around the edges in the best way possible.