Zone out for a second, or let your preconceptions win out, and you will miss the real hook of Beat Is Murder’s debut EP. More on that later, though, because I almost blinked past it too. Beat Is Murder is the new moniker of the outfit NUBACK, who is the founder of the label Too Young Records. Too Young is home to Memory Girls, a group I wrote about a long time ago and promptly dropped off the radar…only to reappear on this two-song release, singing back-up. The two songs here – and that’s being really fair, because “Green Monday” is basically a remix of the first song “This Is Our Answer” – are the sort of limb-moving joints DFA Records in New York rose to fame on, snippets of funky guitar next to vintage synth all set to an unobtrusive beat. The vocals move in lock-step, and Beat Is Murder work in one great detail with the drum machine, one beat sounding like it’s covered in digital fuzz. Overall, it’s a great bit of indie-dance music.
Yet, after a few listens more, it dawned on me this is more than that – this is an anti-nuclear song, one of the first tracks from this year to directly comment on Japan’s use of nuclear power. This came out Monday, which also happened to be the day of a giant anti-nuclear protest here in Tokyo. In more “I don’t believe I missed this” details, the Bandcamp page declares “NO NUKES. THIS IS OUR ANSWER.” The clearest line here is “we don’t need any plants, any plants, anymore.” This is a strangely subversive song – for half an hour, I was bobbing around unaware Beat Is Murder was urging Japan to ditch nuclear power. Even though the presence of a political message doesn’t make this EP good music in and of itself (that’s what the groove is for!), I have to admit it’s nice to see an indie artist in Japan not shy away from saying…anything about this. Listen below, or get here.