Germany's JAPANISCHE KAMPFHÖRSPIELE (hereinafter referred to as JAKA) have been turning heads with their inventive and schizoid form of grindcore for a many years now. A slew of fun filled and noisy albums, as well as a seemingly never-ending stream of ideas, has kept the band relevant, if largely unnoticed in North America. Rather than alienating most listeners, remaining steadfast to singing the lyrics in German is part of what makes JAKA unique. Albums like "hardcore aus der ersten welt" and "fertigmensch" had the band lacing its grindcore with death metal snippets, groove parts, and the occasional electronic effect and sample to grand effect. "Rauchen und Yoga" does not necessarily break the mold, but there is enough here to keep things plenty interesting.
Don't let the tongue in cheek descriptions of "popgrind" in the Bastardized press release fool you, as "Rauchen und Yoga" is definitive JAKA. That does not mean that the band doesn't know a thing or two about grooving it up. But NASUM this is not, regardless of the heaviness and moments of clattering 'n' battering heard along the way. With a "We Will Rock You" drumbeat and matching vocal cadence on "Der Angriff startet" opening the album, one is assured that the act is still about good, dirty fun. Mastering the art of the alternating growl and shriek vocals, and busting out some seriously scathing riffs, JAKA never allows the listener time for boredom. Producer Carsten Rehmann and mixer Robert Adam clearly have a keen insight into the JAKA sound, as the tightness of playing and crisp instrumentation really comes across on the release.
Changing up the arrangements for maximum impact and offering a range of hot licks and tough, staccato rhythms, "Rauchen und Yoga" unnerves the uninitiated and has the discerning grind fan intrigued and wired for sound. As for those lamenting the non-English lyrics, get over yourself. How often do you "sing along" to grindcore records without the assistance of a lyric sheet anyway. You'll find few grind releases as entertaining as "Rauchen und Yoga", or any JAKA release for that matter.