Koenji hyakkei (高円寺百景), was a Japanese avant-garde band, debuting in 1994. Koenji hyakkei translates into “Hundred Sights of Koenji”, what is also the title on the debut album. Koenji being an area in Tokyo, with a young population and a lot of small “live music house” hosting a crowded live music scene. Koenji is known to be the birthplace of Japanese Punk.
Im not sure, but I can’t help thinking that the title is a reference to the popular series of woodblock prints, One Hundred Famous Views of Edo (名所江戸百景 Meisho Edo Hyakkei ), published in 1856–59. The album cover also features (what seems to be ?) a woodblock print. Edo ( 江戸) was until 1868 the name for Tokyo.
Headed by the super talented drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, Koenji hyakkei is an offshoot of Japanese cult duo RUINS.
“Hundred Sights of Koenji” is a really dense blast, complex and extremely intense, if you are ready for some totally insane, high speed avant-garde, this is what you have been waiting for. If you prefer relative easy going melodic music, you should skip this one, and move to another post !
Koenji hyakkei clearly has inspiration from French “zeuhl” pioneers “Magma”, but even more extreme, sort of Jazz/heavy rock fusion, on amphetamine, topped by vocals, shouted and chanted in a fictive language, another reference to Magma. This is the direct opposite of easy listening, hard to cope the first 3-4 time you give it a go, but in there somewhere, is hidden moments of true brilliance, and the whole pack of madness is wrapped in wonderful musicality and technical virtuosity.
Koenji Hyakkei was part of the “2rd” Rock in Opposition movement or rather “reunion”, taking part in the 2009 festival in Carmaux, France and the 2014 Japanese edition in Tokyo.