Z was formed from the ashes of legendary Japanese punk band There Is A Light That Never Goes Out who enjoyed international acclaim for their 2000 album “IE” (Dim Mak). When brothers Jun and Ayumu Nemoto (drums) and Kei Uozu (guitar, wood bass) decided to split the band in 2002 they shifted their focus to jazz; Jun exchanged electric guitar for saxophones but traded none of the abrasiveness of their previous incarnation.
Drafting in Takahiro Yamada on bass in 2003, Z was born. The band swiftly set about establishing itself a reputation as one of the underground scene’s most compelling live acts. Support slots with the likes of Keiji Haino, Lungfish, The Evens and Medications followed and they even found themselves playing with Damo Suzuki along the way. Often augmenting their line-up with additional drummers and guitarists, Z gigs are always intense but never predictable.
In March 2006 the band released its debut album “Mikabe” on their own Grok Plastique imprint in Japan to critical acclaim. With its first pressing almost sold out, “Mikabe” has already sent shock waves around the Japanese underground with its combination of free-form jazz and explosive intensity. Its six tracks feature singer and multi-instrumentalist Jun Nemoto delivering an impassioned, caustic take on Japanese society over a cacophony that grooves menacingly. If Pharoah Sanders had jammed with late-period Black Flag it may have sounded like this.
“US hardcore blast of yore gets caught up in a powerful free jazz vibe. Z are defiantly rock, but it is hard not to imagine the ghosts of Kaoru Abe and Masayuki Takayanagi slowly nodding their heads in approval” – The Wire
“Z brood malevolently, sometimes enigmatically before exploding into cascades of precise noise. They are cutting, ethereal, occasionally brutal and maybe even beautiful” – New Noise
“a brilliant, vital fusion of free jazz and abrasive, discordant punk…bewilderingly beautiful” – Subba-Cultcha
“a wholly assured and involving debut release” – Rock-a-Rolla
“It’s the music of fits and starts: a grunt, a strum, a scream, a honk, a hoot, an eruption into noise…taking Mikabe into the territory of avant-garde jazz” – Pop Matters