Boomkat Product Review:
Japanese post-punk outfit The Rabbits might not be particularly well known, but singer-songwriter Syoichi Miyazawa's isolated vision makes this material stand-out completely. Convinced he was penning pop-rock, Miyazawa hand-crafted a sound that's more comparable to PiL, Swell Maps, or Pere Ubu.
Pasted together from The Rabbits' early run of 1980s cassette releases and fully remastered, "The Rabbits" is the first time this material has ever been released on vinyl. It's not surprising, considering the band aren't only unknown outside of Japan, but they're a barely-visible part of the punk scene on the island too. It was frontman Syoichi Miyazawa who masterminded the project; the singer had grown up in Northern Japan listening to The Beatles and Dylan, and wasn't particularly drawn to underground music in any of its forms. When he moved to Tokyo in the late 1970s, he played solo shows, singing primally and playing a detuned electric guitar.
Miyazawa's closest friend was Endo Michiro, the singer from legendary Japanese punk band The Stalin. Michiro played drums and guitars on Miyazawa's debut solo release, but was far more interested in socializing than his friend, who was becoming sick of playing solo. After meeting a high school student called Chika in 1982, Miyazawa had an idea for a bigger project - Chika would play bass, and two of her friends would play guitar and drums. Now Miyazawa had a band, but it wasn't easy for them to respond to his hyper-specific direction. He knew how he wanted the music to sound, but guitarist after guitarist couldn't rise to the task. They recorded a cassette (known as "X1(x)") and Miyazawa was unhappy with its sound - their next release "Winter Songs" would be self-produced and self-mixed, and this would stand as The Rabbits' magnum opus. It was released in 1984, and while it sold through its 500 copy run, the band splintered soon afterwards.
Now it's a "lost" classic, and still sounds like little else. Miyazawa's adherence to pop structures is endearing, but his ragged experimentation is what makes the music so special. Like the sound of New Zealand's Flying Nun a few years later, The Rabbits sound as if they're trapped in a parallel world, crafting radio pop that's far too angular and too obtuse for most minds. Miyazawa's antisocial character is expressed with wild, nonsensical screams piped through delay, swirling around guitar and drums so purposefully mixed that everything sounds as if it's been trapped in a wind tunnel. We've got no idea what was going on in his head at the times, but it sounds to us like Les Ralizes Denudes trying to write a Can record and ending up with a cross between Acid Mothers Temple and Public Image Limited instead.