Ultra Bide (Japan) – DNA vs DNA – c (Alternative Tentacles, 2013)


When I first saw Hide, a strange, good-looking man outside The Midway Cafe in Jamaica Plain, he looked at me with a glint in his eye. He had me won over even before I heard his music. He told me his age, 52, a little greater than mine, and I knew we were the same generation, even to the most influential album from when we were ten years old, Yes’s Close to the Edge.


We both were hit by the crossfire of prog and punk in the ’70s, and we both came out of it scathed in different ways. But that’s a long story… I learned he had put together Ultra Bide in Kyoto in 1978; then I realized he was only a teenager then. Then it struck me – this was the Japanese Sex Pistols. They were there. When it was happening. What’s more, their work has continued to evolve, through periods in NYC and back to Japan.


DNA vs DNA -c has the energy of new wave condensed into a 21st century microchip. It’s got complex rhythms and space-age guitar swipes, napalm-scorched harmonies. You can hear the last 45 years of rock and youth culture whizzing by your eyes like you just got shot in a foxhole in Vietnam.


I saw their headline performance that night, and it blew my mind. What’s even sweeter, the twenty-something kids in the crowd were bopping around like it was a high school dance, or CBGB’s in 1977, the year punk broke. It was all of a piece, like a swath of satin fabric they proceeded to rip to shreds. This all happened of a period of fifteen minutes. Ultra Bide condenses epic energy into poignant, touching, funny haiku.


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