Land of the rising rock

There was a time in the mythological mid-nineties when thereexisted a magical theory called the Japan filter. Japan, in itsconsumerist haze, became the land of everything cool. The affluentyouth, for whom shopping was an art form, began taking the fringeelements of American pop culture and adapting their most surfacelevel ingredients into the most profoundly beautiful objects moneycould create. Japanese art, fashion, toys and most notably musicleapt to the forefront of hipster culture and gave American rockersa reason to try.

Then came the recession. As the Japanese economy slowly slippedinto the depths of malaise the Japan filter began to dissolve. Nowthat the Japanese economy has recovered the trendsetters, this timethe younger siblings of the Japanese cool, are at it again. Theirobsessions aren’t The Silver Apples or the Living Legends, but textmessaging and Ashlee Simpson. Suddenly the Japanese really are amirror of U.S. culture, in all its loathsome banality.

But there still holdout bands, the last bastions of a musicalcommunity so amazing that it changed the face of rock. Bands likeGuitar Wolf, Melt Banana, Green Milk From The Planet Orange andAcid Mothers Temple still push the boundaries of psychedelic rockand metal, proving that Japan truly brings it to the table.Amazingly, this weekend you have the opportunity to see not one buttwo of the most powerful bands on the Japanese scene today.

Ghost, playing tonight Friday October 1 at Berbati’s Pan, mixelements of traditional Japanese folk and American psychedeliaseamlessly creating timeless space-out compositions withoutboundaries. They’ve been recording in a commune-like setting for adecade now and their newest album “Hypnotic Underworld” is a forceto be reckoned with.

Mono, playing Saturday October 2, also at Berbati’s Pan, playtheatrical post-metal rock in the same vein as Broken Social Scene,or Godspeed You Black Emperor. The first time I stumbled acrossthem, just before the release of their debut album “One StepBeyond,” was in a tiny club in Tucson, Arizona. The noise was sotremendous and arresting that half the audience retreated interror, but those of us that stayed were treated to one of the mostcommanding performances I have ever witnessed. And they’re prettygood looking too.