Available on: 3QREC Records LP
From the futuristic streets of Tokyo to the less glamorous but just as inspiring streets of Dalston, East London, via Korean mythology (they’re named after a mythical Korean beast) Dokkebi Q are a duo whose music embraces their roots, multiculturalism and influences in equal measure. The result of which is plain to hear on their debut album, Hardcore Cherry Bonbon.
Formed by producer Gorgonn and singer Kiki Hitomi in 2006 while living in Dalston, Dokkebi’s sound is described by the pair as being based on their mutual appreciation and understanding of “black punk music”. However I can’t help but feel that this description only really touches on one small part of their sound.
Having been making noise, sometimes quite literally, on the fringes of the dubstep and bass music scenes for four years now, Dokkebi Q manage to combine elements of noise, breakcore, jungle, dubstep and other strains of rave music with their aforementioned love of “black punk”. This rather potent mixture is at once typical of Japanese electronic music experimentation, often fascinating because Japanese artists tend to incubate influences and sounds from outside of their geographical and linguistic isolation before regurgitating them in unique ways (for example, Goth Trad, who’s worked with Dokkebi), and also different because Dokkebi made their music while living in London, itself a melting pot of cultures and sounds that has led to countless mutations of rave sounds and genres. And that is one of the reasons why they are so fascinating, bridging the cultural and linguistic divide between East and West with their music.
At times the tracks on Hardcore Cherry Bon Bon are typical of this Japanese experimentation, and could easily be from an unknown Japanese outfit somewhere deep in Tokyo’s underground, while at others they are a distorted vision of the sounds that have come out of London in the last five years heard through an unusual cultural lens. ‘Cuckoo Clock’ and ‘English Weather Boy’ are good examples of the former, mashing together elements from heavy metal, punk, bass music and dub in a way that shouldn’t work but does, while ‘Dalston Imperfection’ and ‘Black Vomit’ show the latter by tapping into the energy and sonic elements of genres like dubstep and jungle while still making them entirely Dokkebi’s own.
The music on Hardcore Cherry Bon Bon is like a psychedelic collage powered by Gorgonn’s often busy and chaotic productions, swamped in bass, dub echoes and delay and made complete by Kiki’s vocals, which effortlessly jump from English to Japanese. It’s the vocals that often make the tracks irresistible. On their own the productions are good, as shown by the inclusion of dub versions of ‘Gobbledygook’ and ‘Black Vomit’ at the end of the LP, but with her vocals they take on a new dimension. The title cut is the perfect example of this: a sound bed of bass, chopped amen breaks and echoed sounds given a pop sheen by Kiki’s lyrics that results in a futuristic vision of pop friendly rave music. I guarantee that once you listen to the album you’ll find yourself humming the melodies and singing the lyrics without even thinking about it.
Composed of tracks produced, and some released, over the last few years Hardcore Cherry Bon Bon is the perfect introduction to the world of Dokkebi Q for first timers, and a great way to catch up with the duo for those already aware of their sonic explorations. It’s a truly unique vision of sounds and influences that have become part and parcel of electronic and dance music in the last ten years. It has the ability to appeal to fans across the spectrum and will also easily surprise them. And considering that Kiki’s been working with The Bug as part of King Midas Sound and Gorgonn with Scotch Egg as part of Devilman it’s likely that the next time we get a Dokkebi Q offering it’ll be something entirely different.