I was one of many that was sad to see Death From Above 1979 break up years ago. They were a band that consisted of a bassist and a drummer making some of the most hardcore, heavy rocking tracks in a vein that not even Jack & Meg White could've attempted to do. I thought that it'd be years before another band like that would appear at my footstep. Fortunately I was wrong when Japanese band moja's self-titled debut album was placed in my hand.
Lasting just under 29 minutes moja's debut hits you right off the bat with a wham-bam-thank you, ma'am known as "Mr". Bassist and vocalist Haruhiko screams and plucks away while drummer Masumi slams her kit with an anarchic flare. This track alone rocks so hard that you quickly forget that there are just two people in the band. "Hello" sounds like the band wants to invade your room and smash it to pieces. You can feel moja's rage peer through the speakers, as if it wants to possess you into raising some hell in the comfort of your own home.
"12" does everything it can to destroy your sub-woofer. It's an impressive jam session, but lacks a sort of order that even the most hardcore of punk tracks have. You quickly forget that flaw, however, when "weny weny" blows through your speakers. It feels like Masumi is bashing her sticks in your ear drums, but in a way that more stress-relieving than painful. "obake" comes off like some of the early works of the Rodeo Carburettor, and the groove one feels from it will either make you sway your hips or jump into a mosh pit (or both, if you're quite a good multi-tasker).
Coming at you like a classic GTO with vengeance on the driver's mind, "GUM" revs its engines and speaks in a drunken slur. Haruhiko sings "I don't know..I love me" with a playfully egotistical smirk, knowing very well that he's just making it up as it goes along and is getting away with it. Masumi comes back to the forefront with "highspeed," showing off why she might just be one of the best female drummers out there. She smashes her way through with a rage unlike any other woman has behind the kit (more-so than Bleach 03's Sayuri or even noodles' Ayumi). Haruhiko takes center stage for the final track "roller coaster," a phrase that just about sums up this album. It speeds upwards and downwards in the right fashion, and then once it looks like it's over the riders are surprised with a few more twists and turns.
moja isn't for everyone, and some may be turned off by the fact that there isn't a guitarist; or perhaps they are turned off by noise rock. However, it's good noise rock to say the least; and while it does borrow elements from DFA 1979, it's not like the former Toronto duo are going to be using them again anytime soon. So to moja I say a fine job to carrying the torch around for bass/drum duos, and may your next venture be as fun and rocking as this debut album.
**** (out of five)
Special Thanks to Tom Melesky for sending the album for this review.