One of the more interesting movements out of Japan in the past few years were a number of bands born out of the tradition set forth by America's Devo and The B-52s as well as Japan's Plastics. In 1998, Spoozys put out their first full-length album, and by 2000 when they started to tour America with their first release, Astral Astronauts, it was all but gone. CD importers didn't have any record of it, and there were few if any reviews of it online.
Existence of SUPER EARTH is a to Japanese DEVO-inspired weirdness what The Stooges were to a lot of protopunk acts 40 years ago. This is a truly odd, messy, chaotic disc that after a few listens, you'll be asking yourself "so was this good or what?" Unusual vocals and distorted sounds can make this a difficult album to sit through at times, but it's interesting to see where the band responsible for their second release (Astral Astronauts in the USA, Spoozys in Japan) came from. And they came from a very, very odd place.
Fans of Servotron and sci-fi in general are in for a treat here with numerous references to UFOs and our favorite film series, Star Wars. "Human Cyborg Relation" seems to be a tune dedicated to C-3PO, and a few other tracks skirt the fence between seriousness and ridiculousness. "Can Computers Have A Mind" and many other tracks, actually all of them, are in English. It doesn't mean you'll be able to understand the tracks, though, as the words are pronounced in new, fun ways you'd never consider yourself as a native English speaker. (This proud tradition continues on their later releases as well.)
Few of the tracks stand out in the parade of beeps, whistles, and genuinely unusual songs. Even for Japanese weirdness, this is pretty weird. It stands out more as a collectible mainly because in my years of trying to track down unusual music, this was one of the biggest pains in the neck to get. (Since I didn't have money for their one copy they brought to a show in Phoenix, I spent several months tracking down the band and its management to sell me a copy from their offices.) If you heard Astral Astronauts and want something else from the band, it may be easier to get CE-III, a Japanese mail order label's release from 2003, or one of their two EPs. This isn't nearly as catchy as their other work, and if for some reason you happen upon this at a record store or on eBay, it may not be worth getting as your first foray into Japanese neo new wave music. If you've heard some Plastics and a lot of Devo, though, this might be worth your while.
When I got a chance to talk to the band (well, barely, their English was limited and my Japanese was null) I found out that they're absolutely huge fans of America's The B-52's and you can hear numerous references to the song "Planet Claire" throughout the catalog of Spoozys. As such, listen for riffs from it popping up during this and other albums. It's like Loo-Kee from the She-Ra cartoons. (Or so I'm told.)
Odds are this album will never be released outside Japan, and as it is, few if any online Japanese music stores have it. Back in the heyday of Napster, tracks from this album (as far as I could tell) never appeared online. As such, good luck finding this one. Fans of the band will probably dig it, and if you're one of the people that believes that getting any good music is worth some effort, this is for you.
March 15, 2004