Nisennenmondai, Destination Tokyo (Smalltown Supersound)

Tightly wound and sharp-edged
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Nisennenmondai instills a paranoid mood from the outset of Destination Tokyo with its 13-minute opening track,"ijeN urusuozuoS." That seeming paranoia rarely lets up as this trio of Japanese ladies focuses on close-cropped instrumentals with Krautrock rhythms and piercing edges throughout.

On their first release, last year's Neji/Tori (Smalltown Supersound), Nisennenmondai showed off less-structured arrangements wrapped in layers of feedback. But on Destination Tokyo, the fine-tuned, regimented approach is built on repetition of clean sounds. Sayaka Himeno's drums lead the way with steady stomps and dynamically fluttering cymbals while Masako Takada's guitar parts bring fierce energy, interjecting sharp and slashing tones that make everything seem a little uneasy. Anchoring it all is Yuri Zaikawa and her sparse, pulsing bass lines.

The album offers just five songs, and aside from one playful interlude, each excursion displays a fervent drive permeated by an unsettled atmosphere. It's only on the closing title track that the girls finally show off a relaxed approach to their hypnotic formulations. Drawing praise from the likes of Battles, No Age, Gang Gang Dance and Prefuse 73, Nisennenmondai has talent that is sure to take the ladies as far beyond Tokyo as they want to go. [3.5 out of 5 stars]