This is an appropriate first posting, I think, because YBO2 were one of the earliest bands in Japan that I really got excited about. Back in 1989 my roommate and I had come across artists like Hijokaidan, Merzbow, and Null due to compilation appearances, but it was very hard to find information about independent bands from Japan. We had a few names, though, so when A.J. from Re/Search was going to Japan for a visit we gave her a list of bands to look for. Pretty much all of the albums she came back with were great (more on some of them later, I’m sure), but YBO2’s Alienation was an unbelievable find.
Given the lineup, that’s not surprising. YBO2 was a band started by SSE label founder Masashi Kitamura; the lineup went through various changes over the years, and Kitamura even brought YBO2 over to the U.S. for a few shows back in 2004. But this initial lineup is pretty hard to beat, since besides Kitamura on bass and vocals, the guitarist was KK Null (later to found Zeni Geva) and the drummer was Tatsuya Yoshida (leader of Ruins).
Perhaps the centerpiece of this album is the epic opener “Amerika”, which includes a pastiche of “Scarborough Fair” dropped into it. Rather than include such a long track, though, I’m posting “Ural” here, the album’s closer. Null once said that he was intimidated to join YBO2 because at the time he felt he wasn’t a good guitarist, and Kitamura and Yoshida were both very technical players. I’d argue that Null’s guitar sound, influenced as he was by No Wave and bands like Swans, was what made this album such an incredible combination of intense textures and prog-pop structure.
Alienation was released in 1986 by TransRecords, the pre-SSE label operated by Kitamura. The album was later reissued on CD by J.A.P. Records.
Listen: “Ural” by YBO2