Hitting the Middle East downstairs this Sunday are Japanese futurist-absurdos Polysics, who’ve somehow been at this game for 10 years now. Their new We Ate the Machine, which dropped last month, has more hyperactive synths, finger-in-the-outlet yelping, and Saturday-morning bombast than a Transformers marathon. The once blindsiding move of using punk bands as B-movie spoofs on postmodern conundrums might have lost a bit of its bite, but Polysics’ progenitors have carved out a comfy little niche to bend and tweak the way only a quartet of sugar-addled Tokyo punk ninjas could.
The second track off We Ate the Machine jerks around through glitchy call-and-response electronics like a few NES consoles bickering at one another via slo-mo eight-bit sentence fragments. Vocalist Kayo chirps over the bleeps and bloops like a Japanese laundry-detergent spokeswoman. By the time the machine-gun drums and power chords come in, you’ll have abandoned your hunt for subtle social critique.
Devo, “Jocko Homo”
Polysics heroes #1: Devo. Consider Polysics’ blatant appropriation of Devo coveralls, the no-body Steinberger guitars, the ritual Greatest Hits played over the PA before their shows, and even the Devo lyrics, which pop up all over their songs in warbled phonetic transpositions. This video is the essential collision of punk, detached robotic minimalism, and cable-access social manifesto.
Brainiac, “Vincent Come On Down”
Like Devo, Brainiac grew up out of the underbelly of post-industrial Ohio, using haywire keyboards and uncontrollable vocal effects to less restrained and more pissed-off ends. You know all those smart-ass, spazzed-out punk bands with token keyboards you stumble across on MySpace? Thank Brainiac.
Servotron, “People Mover”
Servotron was one of the several projects to pop out of the conceptual, alias-laden pool of Man or Astro-Man? personnel. It was an ostensibly all-robot band who never broke character and spread the praises of a cyborg takeover of the planet, nerdily injecting Kraftwerk theatrics into rock clubs at the height of ’90s confessional alt-rock. You’ll find a human counterpart to keyboardist Proto Unit V-3 (Ashley Moody) in Boston these days playing with the Information.
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