The Mighty Wha

Having been soothed by Susan’s silky tones yesterday, I’ve decided to look at the more unsettling side of spiky dread ala Nippon.

Around the same time Susan and co were working on Nuit De Saint-Germain, another Japanese group, under the Dada-esque guise of Wha-Ha-Ha, were dismantling dub’s conventions, conjoining reggae’s regularity with unpredictable time signatures and a healthy smattering of electronic tom-foolery.

While Wha-Ha-Ha are generally considered a jazz band, their fragmented approach to song structures, not to mention their sporadic skankings, owe as much to the maverick’s of dub as they do to their avante-jazz peers.

Testament to the group’s pioneering approach and a laissez faire attitude to their performances, Wha-Ha-Ha’s tenure was brief but abundant, producing two studio albums and the live LP Live Dub within the space of a year.

By the end of 1981 the group had disbanded, splintering into bigger and more bewildering projects like percussionist (and Susan collaborator) Kiyohiko Semba’s prog-big-band Haniwa Allstars, and punk-funk misfits Jagatara who’s debut 8″ was as physically ill fitting as it’s content, switching from ska to disco before descending into bluesy guitar heroics with unblinking precision.

Back to Wha-Ha-Ha though for some toy keyboard tinkering over the stuttering one drop drums of Zoo

Or how about this meandering modal live workout from the Boiled Side of Live Dub..?

And a couple of live clips – Kiyohiko Semba’s Haniwa Allstars and Jagarata’s appropriation of Jamaica’s musical heritage and Miami Vice’s wardrobe department, respectively.

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