Our column ‘Slop of the Plops’ explores the murkiest, most absurd and experimental corners of music, that you’ve probably never heard of, and may never want to hear of again.
Whenever perusing the ever so ambiguous ‘Indie Rock’ section of your local record store, one may find that perhaps the only definitive quality of the bands contained therein is their penchant for band names which have approximately nothing to do with the music they play. Queens of the Stone Age – that’s a bit of historical posturing isn’t it? If you’re like me, and are longing for some moniker-music equivalency, you can’t look past seminal Japanese harsh-noise group The Gerogerigegege; literal translation being “Vomitdiarrheackackack”. Their psychotic yet endearingly honest ‘music’ (in heavily inverted commas) is the closest auditory correspondent to simultaneous vomit and diarrhea.
Founded by Juntaro Yamanouchi and Gero 30 in 1985, the pair were dishwashers in a Tokyo S&M club and decided that true performance obscenity was sadly fading into obscurity. They took it upon themselves to light up stages across gay clubs in Japan, and were an apparent success, selling a few thousand records. In a rare interview with a U.S. magazine from 1991, Yamanouchi delineated how many of their early performances occurred:
“Gero 30 and I have eaten each other’s shit and the audience’s shit. The audience was watching us eat shit seriously and we were also serious. There was not any music playing while we were eating shit, and we could even hear their breathing.”
It is also particularly noted that Gero 30’s apparent live signature was masturbation, providing assurance that you wouldn’t miss out: “Wherever we played, we always did masturbation.” This was not a modest display either; it was most often performed with the assistance of a vacuum cleaner, as can be viewed on the internet at your leisure.
Their visual assault of nauseating obscenity was appropriately paired with an onslaught of dizzying industrial noise and (very) vaguely Ramones-inspired punk. Many early releases defy general decency, like 1989’s Showa, a recording of a couple having sex to the Japanese National Anthem, supposedly commemorating the death of wartime Emperor Hirohito. (I think their heart is in the right place?) Worse still, the ‘Most Epic Bowel Movement Ever’ in which they provide a 1-2-3-4 count in to a man defecating for four minutes.
The quintessential Gerogerigegege aural diarrhea however, and their most cohesive recording (a rather alarming thought), is 1990’s Tokyo Anal Dynamite, a 75-track mess of grindcore and muffled screams. Each song commences with Yamanouchi yelping a garbled track name, occasionally indistinguishably mirroring that of a classic rock song, followed by another screeched 1-2-3-4. Heinous frequencies twisting into howling industrial distortion over barely audible frenzied drumming ensued. The Gerogerigegege decided that their very existence still wasn’t lampooning music enough, and thus followed up with their ART IS OVER cassette. Except there was no cassette – inside was a severed octopus tentacle, and a lift-out reading “Fuck Compose, Fuck Melody, Dedicated to No One, Thanks to No One, ART IS OVER.”
By 2001 however, the group had reached an apparent existential crossroads: continue to plow their salacious art for their small but dedicated shit-eating following, or kick the bucket. Many assumed following their puzzling disappearance that Gero 30 and Yamanouchi had finally been institutionalised. For fifteen years, The Gerogerigegege gestated in avant-garde memory, to inspire generations of performance artists that no bodily function is off limits. That is until last year, when astoundingly, The Gerogerigegege rose from the sewers to throw down a harrowing explosion of harsh noise, Moenai Hai. And so, the self-proclaimed “Japanese Ultra Shit Band” lives on to produce music that you can never claim they didn’t warn you about from the moment you spot their label in JB Hi-Fi.