November 7, 2002

Test Spin: Xinlisupreme

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A name isn’t everything. Take Xinlisupreme, for example. Say it aloud, if you can (hint: it’s pronounced “zinly”). It even sounds crazy, doesn’t it? And sure, this Japanese band has no trouble living up to the lunacy implied by their moniker, but what the name fails to portray is the sheer beauty of which they’re also capable.

Their debut, Tomorrow Never Comes, explores a delicate balance between splendor and abrasion. At over an hour long, this onslaught of noisy guitars and overdriven electronics would be nearly unbearable if not for the melodicism underpinning every track. The disc opens with “Kyoro,” which establishes the band’s palette early on — busy, complex noise sculptures on top, soaring synth and horn melodies underneath.

“All You Need Is Love Was Not True” demonstrates the band’s more tranquil side, as the ambient melody and murmured, mixed-way-low vocals take center stage, accompanied by a leisurely beat. It’s a gorgeous seven-minute trip that not too many noise artists would have the restraint to craft. “Amaryllis” does away with the noise element all together, opting instead for layered electronic waves.

But the album’s strongest moment is the 12-minute “Fatal Sisters Opened Umbrella,” a jaw-dropping trance-rock epic that weaves brain-melting guitar distortion with a Krautrock-influenced rhythmic build-up. In a word, stunning.

As is the whole record, in fact. Emotional, varied, original and utterly engaging, this should be the future of music. The fact that it probably won’t be only makes albums like this even more treasured by those lucky enough to find them.

Archived article by Ed Howard