3 out of 5
Produced by: Hoppy Kamiyama
Veering between an almost krautrock minimalism and bursts of sound and energy, ex-Girl’s debut album, Heppoco Pou, shows plenty of the noisy creativity and instrumental / vocal skill employed on later discs, but with more of an ear toward experimentation. This makes the middle of the album hit something of a hard stop with the narrative Ghost, followed up by two wandering and short sound collages which further slow down the proceedings. These are not unworthwhile tracks, just in the context of the energy of what comes before and after, they are definitely an interruption. Regarding that before and after: Heppoco kicks off with two excellent beat-based tracks which show off impressive restraint surrounding some steady, heartbeat drumming, allowing bleats and squeals of guitar and singing at proper punctuating moments. Gyu-Nyu peels it back further to some noise, percolating in a piercing scream, which is a great gateway to two of the disc’s bests: La Perla and Sex Machine. The former actually brings in some emotive riffing and singing, while the latter is something of a call-and-response party track, and is tons of fun. The concluding tracks on the disc mirror these two formats: Space Prot is another full-on, fleshed out song, while 8-minute closer Deutsche ß cools things down with a spaced beat and chant, giving us some final guitar splashes as the track ends.
while not as seamless and rocking as some later discs, Heppoco is definitely part of ex-Girl’s musical lineage, showing clear connections to their later, herkier-jerkier stylings, and also allowing room for some interesting – if perhaps distracting – experiments.