V/A Tokyo Flashback 6 (PSF) cd 17.98
The venerable compilation series devoted to sampling the dark and demented delights of the Tokyo psychedelic underground returns! While the previous Tokyo Flashback number five (from 2005) included both quite a few veteran artists (Keiji Haino, Marble Sheep, Overhang Party, Kyoaku No Intention, White Out) as well as several hitherto unknown to us up-and-comers (Aural Fit, Hisato Higuchi, Suishou No Fune, etc.), this installment has only one or two acts among the dozen featured that we'd heard of before, so it's arguably all the more underground. Certainly the discerning folks at PSF must have done the rounds of the more obscure practice spaces and performance venues of Tokyo to find all these bands (or endured a lot of cd-r demo submissions). First up is the quartet Ahousen, who, with dramatic vocals and agitated saxophone, sound something like a like a freaked out Maher Shalal Hash Baz. Next, things get a bit calmer and prettier with the accordion and trombone laced "The World Of Mirror" by Hanaoyouni, a outfit who like Ahousen have female vocals but use them in a more melodious fashion. Then, someone named Onna does the melancholic guitar/voice folk troubadour thing in the vein of Kan Mikami. That's followed by the spooky-but-lovely droning instrumental soundscape of the mysterious Yamashirube, entitled "Under Young Moon.Lost.". The next piece comes from a duo called S.A.R.O.D. (Safeness Audio Resource Of Dominant), featuring one of the guys from Aural Fit doing some heavy-duty "tone bending" alongside a drummer, and if you've heard Aural Fit, that we're telling you that is noisy, loud and grinding will be no surprise. Following that, there's a group called Retolt Mandala, who play a loose, skittering, abstract sort of psych-improv, and are a lot quieter than the S.A.R.O.D. guys. Next, the raggedly distorted guitar/guitar/drums trio Ainotamenishis lets loose with "Bad Dreams" and we can immediately hear the reason why they have an LP due out later this year on the Holy Mountain label, as they give us a Tokyo Flashback flashback. That brings us to something completely different: the plucking, squeaking, neo no wave of The Kinky Pigeon, who ask us to "EAT SHIT!!" as politely and artily as they can. Back into the more expected Flashback zone, the mellow (but for some serious bursts of distortion) sixties-ish psych-rock of the trio Yakouchu is quite nice, taking us on an extended 8 and a half minute trip... Ogikubo Connection are next, a "free style folk duo" with the Fukuoka Rinji of Overhang Party strumming and singing in anguished fashion accompanied by alto sax of Mochizuki Harutaka, doing a cover version of a song called "Staring At Blood" by the late Kaneko Jutok of Kousokuya. Then we get this disc's perhaps most properly Rallizes-y rockin' moment, with a blast from motorpsycho guitarist Kawaguchi Masami (ex-Miminokoto) and his power trio the New Rock Syndicate, called "Oblivion". And then finally this Flashback winds up with the gorgeous, plaintive acoustic folk track "A Moonlight Night" by singer/guitarist Genshi. Wow. Something here for everyone (well, everyone who would consider buying a Tokyo Flashback disc that is)! We imagine we'll be hearing more from many of these artists, and looking forward to it too. As with all Tokyo Flashbacks, we're pretty sure all the tracks are exclusive to this disc. Info/photos/web addresses and suchlike stuff is included in the cd booklet for each artist.
AINOTAMENISHIS "Bad Dreams" MPEG Stream:
YAMASHIRUBE "Under Young Moon.Lost." MPEG Stream:
V/A Tokyo Flashback 7 (PSF) cd 17.98
We've been enjoying PSF's series of "Tokyo Flashback" comps for almost two decades now, going all the way back to the first one in 1991! Every couple of years the Tokyo-based label puts out a fascinating new Flashback collection, documenting the most underground and otherworldly of psych units to mysteriously materialize in our plane of existence (er, specifically Tokyo, Japan) via seemingly occult means, perhaps called forth by the eternal vibrations of ancestral acts like High Rise, Fushitsusha, Ghost and White Heaven (all of whom appeared on early Tokyo Flashback volumes). So here now is auspicious installment number seven, and it's conceived around the concept of live psychedelic improvisation, as put into practice (and recorded for posterity) one evening at the Koenji Show Boat club in Tokyo on May 31st, 2009. There's six lengthy tracks from six obscure acts, most of 'em totally new to us (all except for drone duo Hasegawa-Shizuo, whose new Utech album we reviewed last list). These improvs range from quiet droning blissouts to sheer ear-scraping skronk. Oh, and yes indeed, there's also one solid dose of amplifier-frying psychrock jamming, 'cause no Tokyo Flashback comp would be complete without some of THAT. To get down to cases, on this Flashback you'll find squealing free jazz freakout from the energetic Derakushi; delicate and haunting organic drone by Le Son De L'Os, who unfurl the longest track here at close to 20 minutes, utilizing acoustic guitar, voice, and flute among other things; some onkyo styled skitter and silence, "whispered" by guitar/contrabass/percussion trio Bon No Kubo; avant garde exploration of traditional Japanese shakuhachi sounds, by the Sabu Orimo Unit; the unique spacious sonic ceremony of the aforementioned Hasegawa-Shizuo duo; and raging distortodelic garage rock in the grand tradition courtesy of power trio Touyounomajyo, chanelling the likes of Les Rallies. The cd booklet includes info (in English as well as Japanese) on each artist, all of whom we'll be looking out for more music by, some of it no doubt to appear in future on PSF...
LE SON DE L'OS "Still Water" MPEG Stream:
SABU ORIMO UNIT "Inochi" MPEG Stream:
TOUYOUNOMAJYO "White Light Spear"
V/A Toshiba Express (Toshiba) cd 26.00
A great compilation of '70s Japanese psychedelic folk, loungey crooning, organ freakouts, wah wah guitars, and melodramatic pop from a variety of names you've probably never heard of, except perhaps for The Jacks, The Mops, and Cosmos Factory. No? Anyway, this is a collection of singles released by Japan's Toshiba label back when I, at least, was a little kid. Similar in spirit to the equally good "Love Peace And Poetry" comp of Latin American psychedelic music that we were always raving about.
V/A Turntable Solos (Amoebic) cd 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A solid introduction for all those who have only seen the hip-hop approach to wax tricks. This covers almost every other conceivable area of turntablist sound-art from Christian Marclay, Otomo Yoshihide, Merzbow, Crawling With Tarts, Erik M, Extasis, Frank Schulte, George Budd, L?K?O, Martin Tetreault, Massimo Simonini, Mood Man, PFN, Rik Rue, Takeshi Fumimoto, and Tsunoda Tsuguto.
V/A Undecided (PSF) cd 22.00
Six of Japan's most out-there solo sonic performers each get a ten-minute-or-so track apiece on this new PSF compilation, Undecided. It's subtitled "JMSA Presents Wave from Free Music" but since that's about all it says here in English, your guess is as good as ours as to what that means exactly, although we surmise that the pieces here were recorded live at some festival. The six idiosyncratic voices contributing to this compilation are: Keiji Haino grinding out a dissonant hurdy gurdy drone, Imai Kazuo meditating on some very quiet guitar, Ohkuchi Junichiro playing some dreamy, abstract piano, Satoh Michihiro plucking his traditional tsugaruzyamisen, Otomo Yoshihide making a severe noise racket with turntables and guitar, and Urabe Masayoshi taking this disc's final step into the void with alto sax and breath. While the extremes represented here -- from the gentle sounds of Junichiro's piano to the scraping din of Haino's hurdy gurdy and who knows what else -- means that this doesn't exactly flow that well from track to track, the contents of this disc represent a fine sampler of the work of these very individual individuals. And the cd booklet is filled with beautiful black and white photography of the performers along with Japanese-language text.
KEIJI HAINO "Undecided track 1" MPEG Stream:
OHKUCHI JUNICHIRO "Undecided track 3"
V/A Various Alchemists On... (Alchemy) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This limited edition compilation of the current roster of Osaka's Alchemy Records includes a small 2001 desk calendar featuring images of the artists. Longtime artists include: GENBAKU ONANIES (veteran punk rockers); INCAPACITANTS (noise for bankers, Allan's favorite power electronics act); MASONNA (psychedelic phase shifts and oscillations); SOLMANIA (with a grinding "rock-ish" track, awesome!); SEIICHI YAMAMOTO (solo electric guitar from the guitarist of the Boredoms); HIJOKAIDAN ("The Undisputed King of Noise"); THE NIHILIST SPASM BAND (Canada's highly prolific improvisational group); MERZBOW ("The other Undisputed King of Noise" with a track of pulsing bass and breakbeats!); and JOJO HIROSHIGE (Alchemy kingpin and leader of Hijokaidan performing a quite touching song about love with a backdrop of grating feedback). New artists and lesser knowns are: CHRISTINE 23 ONNA (Maso of Masonna and Fusao of Angel in Heavy Syrup, pulsating exotic moog psychedelia!); MIKI SAWAGUCHI (Japanese porn godess, aka "Big Boobs"); TATSUYA KITAJIMA (folk artist, quite calm and unnerving cover of "All Along Watchtower"[sic]); and GARADAMA (dark folk music sung in English, not unlike Current 93's dark ballads, especially odd since their album on Alchemy is heavy-duty metal). As far as we can tell, all tracks are exclusive to this comp. A nice document of the current state of Alchemy Records and a great introduction to (or reintroduction to those who've forgotten) the Osaka noise scene! And, it's a calendar...
MERZBOW "Cannon Balls 2" RealAudio clip:
CHRISTINE 23 ONNA "Cool Bitch (Shiny Crystal Planet - Space Vixen Mix)"
VAGUSNERVE Lo Pan (Utech) cd 14.98
This fellow we know recently wrote an entertaining book called Get High Now, no not about drugs, but about other sorts of highs, non-drug related natural techniques to enjoy "sensory trips" and the like. Quite a few of them are sound-based (the book even references Ryoji Ikeda at one point) but in a major oversight, a recommendation to "listen to VagusNerve" was left out! 'Cause it's definitely a trip when you really settle into a session with VagusNerve on the stereo or better yet headphones - likewise of course with a lot of other drone musics too, why do you think we like the stuff so much? Loud enough, it'll either stimulate, or at least simulate, a high. So, c'mon, get high now with Chinese guitar/laptop duo VagusNerve. Someone calling herself VAVABOND is the laptopper, and Li Jianhong (of D!O!D!O!D!) is the guitar player. We're already considerable fans of Li's solo psych/noise guitar excursions (his disc on aRCHIVE for instance, and a fantastic new one on PSF, Classic Of the Mountains And Seas) so we were excited when we found out he's half of VagusNerve. We were also interested to learn what exactly the lo pan of the title is. As the liner notes explain, it's a traditional Chinese mytho-technological device, a sort of Feng Shui compass. A rotating disc in a wooden base, with several concentric rings of Chinese characters to which the needle in the middle can point, indicating various arcane things. VagusNerve are not actually using a lo pan to make this music, rather it's inspired by a dream Li had about a giant lo pan in a forest that could be used to summon UFOs! That's pretty much the title of the first track, in fact. And swarming cosmic UFOs looking for mystical feng shui advice definitely could be making some of the sounds heard here. It's nervous, very active drone musick, buzzing and zapping and crackling and chiming, featuring 3 long tracks (8:21, 21:05, 28:27). There's much moody sci-fi windiness, and what sounds like flocks of otherworldly birds crying to one another, amidst thick grinding whooshing sizzling drones, spinning and swirling. Feedback a la underwater whale calls, resonant "long wire" like vibrations, insectoid buzzings, and mechanical rhythms all feature in the the mix. It's a sonic delirium, wherein Urthona is jamming opaquely with KK Null, if that hypothetical comparison is of any help to you. Definitely another cool Utech release, a label we've been raving about lately for many good reasons (Horseback, Gog, Aluk Todolo, Blood Fountain...). Regarding Li Jianhong, hopefully we'll be reviewing that new PSF disc of his very soon. And, by the way, he also made several appearances on that An Anthology Of Chinese Experimental Music box set we listed last time.
"In The Summer Of 2006 Li Made A Dream About A Lopan And A UFO." MPEG Stream:
"No Doubt. The Lo Pan Is A Universe."
VAINIO, MIKA / KOUHEI MATSUNAGA / SEAN BOOTH 3. Telepathics Meh In-Sect Connection (Important Records) cd 14.98
VAJRA Live (PSF) cd 17.98
VAJRA Mandala Cat Last (PSF) cd 22.00
Modern psychedelic shamanistic troubadour and lord of fiery feedback howl Keiji Haino, along with legendary political folk radical Kan Mikami and veteran percussionist Toshiaki Ishitsuka (frequent Kazuki Tomokawa collaborator) comprise the so-called supergroup known as Vajra. Through several albums over the years, the improvisational trio has proven to continually evolve and remain as unclassifiable as any and all of their combined solo efforts. From the lyrically charged folk psychedelia of their early discs to the driven rhythmic force of their Ring album to the explosive sonic maelstrom and dynamism of Sichisiki: The Seventh Consciousness (an album not to be missed, Hainophiles!); a new album from Vajra carries with it a sense of newness and excitement. It demands you come without predilection and prejudice. Formed in the early nineties, the trio has grown to complement each others' unique languages. With Mandala Cat Last, they have inadvertantly metamorphosed themselves into a taut unit, rich in melody and musically cohesive. Their improvisations seem so natural and intentional, the fact that they are improvised doesn't even register as a technical aside. A short but sweet forty minutes, these six pieces are, like much of Mikami's oeuvre, tenebrous and graphic with that touch of mysticism only Haino can deliver. The opening cut, "The Sky Looks Green To Me", slowly builds a feral vocal interaction between Mikami and Haino. The disquieting and chilling vocal cries of the moving "Monkeys Don't Pray" are paired with haunting waves of distorted atmospherics and sparse percussive fits. An acapella break in the center of the album (from a revisited passage off of Mikami & Haino's Heisei recordings) is reciprocated by a warm instrumental closing hymn. Really beautiful, and though the lyrics are in Japanese, there are translations in the accompanying lyric sheets (and it turns out one of the songs has lyrics about Japanese cola!) -- which aren't totally necessary as the music, including Mikami's impassioned wails, transcends language and is quite engaging in its own right!
"Monkeys Don't Pray" RealAudio clip:
"The Sky Looks Green To Me"
VAJRA Ring (PSF) cd 22.00
2nd disc from Japanese avant-scene-masters Keiji Haino, Kan Mikami, and Toshiaki Ishitsuka.
VAJRA Sichisiki (PSF) cd 22.00
3rd album from the amazing Japanese improv-folk-rock trio of Keiji Haino, Kan Mikami, and Toshiaki Ishitsuka. Fans of Keiji's crazy Fushitsusha guitar style should maybe start with this one.
VAJRA Sravaka (PSF) cd 22.00
4th effort from the Vajra supergroup (Keiji Haino, Kan Mikami, and Toshiaki Ishitsuka).
VAMPILLIA Alchemic Heart (Important) cd 14.98
So, what exactly is a "brutal orchestra"? That's what this Japanese band describes themselves as, and their brand of loud, dynamic, droning chamber prog with violins and piano vying with wordless vocals (and bass, and drums, and turntables, and electronics, and etc.) in an constantly swelling, cinematic onslaught is certainly orchestral, and kinda brutal (volume, noise, density) but also beautiful. So, OK, brutal orchestra it is. And making 'em even a bit more brutal than they might otherwise be, they've got special guest Merzbow bringing some additional noise n' distortion to the proceedings. Among other guests is, on vocals, Jarboe of the Swans (shades of her collab with Justin Broadrick a while back, as there's a Jesu-ishness to this, somewhat). Also apparently drummer Tatsuya Yoshida of Ruins fame appears here, and a few Boredoms related folks contribute too. So, some high powered personnel present, and put to use! There's two loooong tracks on this album, one with Jarboe, the other with Merzbow, "Sea" (24:43) and "Land" (24:36), titled after things both of which unhappily have proven cruel and threatening to the beleaguered populace of Japan in recent days. Their elemental power is portended here, in the build-build-build ups of these ominous, abstract, slowly unfolding compositions, making this release fit in well with the doomdirge side of Important's avant roster, for sure. May or may not be representative of Vampillia's usual sound, we've seen some YouTube videos that portray them as much more of a surreal, circus-y affair, a facepainted freakshow vibe of artrock absurdity. There's hints of that here, but the entirety of this has more of a coherent, atmospheric impact, almost like a Miasmah label release multiplied in intensity and amplification.
"Sea" MPEG Stream:
VENOMOUS CONCEPT / 324 split (HG Fact) cd 10.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. 2006 steel cage match, a brutal grind metal hardcore duel to the death between Japan's epic grindthrashers 324 and the old school Earache style supergroup Venomous Concept, feturing Shane And Danny from Napalm Death, Kevin from Brutal Truth and Buzz from the Melvins. Cover artwork by Kevin Sharp.
VIOLENT ONSEN GEISHA U.S. Tour '95 (Japan Overseas) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Japanese noisician/stand up comedian V.O.G. toured the USA in 1995 and this cd preserves some of his finer performances, each in collaboration with American peers Smegma (a warm up for their later split-release with Merzbow?), Truman's Water, and the ubiquitous Thurston Moore.
VISIONS OF FRANK (JIM WOODRING) Short Films By Japan's Most Audacious (Presspop) dvd 27.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The world of Jim Woodring's Frank is so fantastic and bizarre, so fully yet still mysteriously rendered, it would seem impossible to explore that world any further. And the thought of letting various filmmakers animate Frank and his world seems practically sacreligious. We had the same feeling before we watched the Henry Darger documentary as we'd heard that the fimmaker chose to animate Darger's Vivian GIrls and the mysterious Realm Of The Unreal. The result however was absolutely stunning, taking Darger's dreamlike vision even further, rendering the characters even more magical and mysterious, and his personal fantasy world so beautiful and haunting. Thankfully, the same is true of this collection of animated Frank films. Frank's world is so perfect as it is, that the mere thought of other people changing it or ruining it, compromising Woodring's vision, definitely seemed like too big a risk, but this handful of Japanese animators are obviously as in love with Frank as Woodring is and manage to take us further into Frank's world, allowing us to see things not visible on the printed page. Utilizing all sorts of techniques, haunting, sepia toned, water colored, parchment animation and cool angular black and white construction paper 3-D animation cut out's and fuzzy scratchy old fashioned film reels, like early Disney shorts and amazing children's book style geometric shapes with bright colored cutouts and stop motion claymation and bizarre 3-D computer animation, all done with such obvious love and reverence for the original comics, that this series of short films almost manages to be more wonderfully fantastical that the comics themselves. Even the introductory short in simple black and white, pen and ink (with music performed live by Bill Frisell) is a total trip. Always fun and wild and whimsical, with a bit of ominous mystery and usually some terrifying monsters, that somehow always seem to either be outsmarted by Frank and his pals or turn from foes into friends. Amazing music throughout as well as some extra music from Yo La Tengo's James McNew. Comes packaged in an amazing diecut oversized DVD sleeve, with a big booklet packed with Frank comics as well as notes about the animators and the musicians. So totally amazing and essential!
VOOR Evil Metal (Nuclear War Now!) cd 8.98
WADA, YOSHI Earth Horns With Electronic Drone (Omega Point / EM) cd 22.00
Droooooooooooooone... Yep, it's another amazing archival release in the Yoshi Wada reissue campaign from Japan's wonderful EM label, in conjunction with their colleagues at avant-electronics specialists Omega Point. This one's from earlier in his career than the other Wada pieces previously documented in the series, but is no less droney! Recorded in 1974, and unreleased until now, Earth Horns With Electronic Drone is just that. Four players blowing into Wada-built "earth horns" (absurdly long alpenhorn style instruments, "constructed from ordinary plumbing materials and steam fittings"), resonating in an acoustic environment wherein the horns interact with an electronic feedback/looping system designed by Liz Phillips and Yoshi Wada that responds to and reinforces subtle alterations in the volume and pitch of the pipehorns. It's explained in the liner notes, but still a little difficult to understand. Somehow the pipehorn tones are recycled, extended, modulated and mixed, essentially enhanced by the electronics for extra droning effect, that much is obvious! The results are lovely, mesmeric... though, it's hard to come up with much of a description besides, do you like foghorns? Being in San Francisco, we know we do! This is like endless foghorns, mixed with answering whale calls. Or imagine the Himalayan horns of hyperventilating Tibetan monks, high on cough syrup, slowed down and stretched out. Screwed but not chopped. Occasionally punctuated by what must be the coughs and echoing rustle of the close-to-dozing audience members in the gallery of the art museum where this took place, the pipehorns blow (and the electronics further generate) low, ever so slightly wavering tones that weave together forever... well, if not forever, for about three hours at the original performance!! Of which 77 minutes are presented here on the cd format. There's also the fancy, much more expensive triple vinyl version, which runs to 2 hours and 42 minutes! In metal parlance, that would be the "diehard" edition. But we only have three copies of that, and aren't too sure about whether we can ever get more. Still, even only 77 minutes of Earth Horns With Electronic Drone is a decent dose, with no flipping of sides also. For those just now tuning in to the ritualistic, minimalistic, ultra-droned-out works of Wada, we'll refer you to our reviews of his three previous discs on EM for more info on this Fluxus-associated composer and sculptor. But you can certainly see from the vintage b&w photos on the sleeve, including one of Wada's ensemble accompanying a Merce Cunningham dance performance in Nassau Coliseum, that his pipehorns have an impressive physical dimension and shape suitable for display and demonstration in art galleries, or other public spaces. And on this recording you can certainly HEAR their impressive physical dimension and sound-shapes they make as well!
"Earth Horns With Electronic Drone [excerpt 1]" MPEG Stream:
"Earth Horns With Electronic Drone [excerpt 2]"
WADA, YOSHI Lament For The Rise And Fall Of Elephantine Crocodile (EM Records) cd 21.00
EM Records of Japan is a label from which we *always* are eager to hear more, specializing as they do in the most odd, obscure, awesome reissues EVER. Without them, we wouldn't have such a great selection of musical saw cds here at Aquarius. Or '70s New Age weirdness. Or psychedelic surf music soundtracks. Or (most recently) steel drum jazz funk! While the steel drum jazz funk might have appealed mostly to the more eccentric crate digging DJ types, we know that THIS release is gonna really take off here. That's 'cause it's all about the DRONE. And y'all love drone we know. Yoshi Wada is a Japanese artist who relocated to New York City in the late '60s and (just like another Japanese expatriate, Yoko Ono) got heavily involved with the conceptual art movement known as Fluxus. Doing sculpture, performance, and sound installations, he rubbed elbows with the likes of minimalist maverick LaMonte Young, studying with both him and Indian vocal guru Pandit Pran Nath. That's very evident on this album, the intriguingly titled Lament For The Rise And Fall Of The Elephantine Crocodile, which was originally released on vinyl in 1982 by the avant garde label India Navigation (responsible for important Dreyblatt and Niblock documents as well). Wada only made two records, of which this one is considered his most significant, not to mention rarest. There's two long tracks here (over a half-hour each). Both are utter drooooooooooone nirvana. Track one, "Singing" (31:06), is ALL voice, Wada giving long guttural throat-bleatings (waaaaah waaaaaah ooooooooo....) that he builds into a gorgeous, rising and falling soundscape of overtones and drones. He recorded it in an empty swimming pool for extra bass and natural echoing effect... the results are serene yet joyous, somehow liturgical, suggestive of blissful monkish raptures. Wada certainly got into it, actually spending the night before this recording *sleeping* alone in the pool, and (he says) almost experiencing auditory hallucinations due to the resonant acoustics of the space. The second track, side two of the original LP, is a continuation of the first with even MORE drone. Entitled "Bagpipe" (33:17), it adds to Wada's vocal intonations the sound of experimental homebuilt reed instruments of Wada's own devising, "adapted bagpipes with sympathy" made of plumbing tubes, powered by an air compressor. Improvising with voice and "bagpipe", this piece is much louder, denser, and grindingly trance-like than the far more delicate first track. The two instruments he used are pictured on this cd's back cover. One is called The Elephantine Crocodile, and another The Alligator. Both are Partch-like sound-making sculptural objects in their own right. They're carefully tuned to take advantage of higher octave harmonics and microtonal partials and other things that we'd need more study of music theory to understand exactly, but obviously with which Wada is fully conversant. What we do know for sure is that with his voice and unusual instruments he's conjured a deeply psychedelic and meditative dronescape that we're darn glad EM (in conjunction with another cool Japanese label, Omega Point) have seen fit to unearth and reissue!! If you like drones, this not only a worthy historical document, but also would be a fantastic listen even if it had just been recorded yesterday. In fact, it compares interestingly to another drone release reviewed this list, Schmickler and Chisholm's Amazing Daze. But Wada achieved these drones without the aid of electronics or computers. About the only complaint we could make about it is the rather abrupt ending! We realize that it can't go on forever (as much as we'd like it to) but its sudden cessation (instead of a gradual fade out) can harsh one's mellow... though if you're like us you'll listen to this going to sleep at night and won't ever make it conscious to the end anyway. This has been digitally remastered from the original tapes, with the two pieces restored to their original intended lengths (they'd been edited down to fit on the LP release). And as usual, it gets a fabulous EM packaging job, complete with vintage b&w photos and extensive 1982 and 2007 liner notes in both English and Japanese, written by Wada himself. This one is definitely up there in the pantheon of EM essentials, and that's saying a lot.
"Singing" MPEG Stream:
WADA, YOSHI Off The Wall (EM Records / Omega Point) cd 21.00
We have to thank Japan's EM Records - actually, we've been doing that a lot lately - but this time we have to thank 'em for turning us on to the celestial soundworlds of dronologist Yoshi Wada. If you've read our reviews of EM's two previous Wada reissues, you know he's a Japanese sculptor/composer who made his way to New York City in the late '60s, delving into the Fluxus conceptual art movement and hanging out with folks like pioneering minimalist LaMonte Young. In 1982, Wada issued an LP entitled Lament For The Rise And Fall Of Elephantine Crocodile, featuring his voice and homebuilt instruments. When it was reissued on EM last year, we were bowled over by its unique deep drone soundings. EM's second Wada reissue, The Appointed Cloud, from 1987, was equally amazing. Happily, there's more Wada releases in the vaults than we'd thought. Now EM has brought out a cd version this one, Off The Wall, which was originally released on vinyl in 1985 by the German free improv label FMP. Dubbed a "majestic minimalist monsterpiece" by EM, it consists of two long tracks (over twenty minutes each), a part one and part two of the same performance, which features the bagpipe blowing of Yoshi Wada and colleague Wayne Hankin, along with the "adapted organ" (pipe organ put together by Wada) played by Marilyn Bogerd, and the percussion of Andreas Schmidt-Neri. EM have also added a bonus cut - this third (and even longer than either of the others, at 27:14) track, "Die Konsonanten Pfeifen", was recorded in Berlin in 1983 and originally issued as a cassette. Again, Wada and Hankin play the bagpipes, this time accompanied by percussion (tympani, tam tam, and cymbal) from one Kevin Newhoff, which kicks in, with a hiccup, near about the halfway point, providing steady, ominous pulsations that bring to mind some of the portentous mood of Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra". Bagpipes, that's right, this is bagpipe music. But it doesn't sound much like Scotland's The Black Watch. Maybe if the Royal Highland Regiment were marching to 20th century avant-classical. Keening endlessly, the twin bagpipes of Wada and Hankin weave exotic-sounding tones and overtones together in slowly shifting, shimmering patterns, that seem to keep one step head of your sensory apparatus, so that you realize there's something new going on in the piece only after you've been hearing it already for a few moments. The effect of these modulations is quite mesmeric, almost meditative, New Age with an edge, like Phill Niblock meets Terry Riley, taken to a Far Eastern extreme. The multiple instrumental voices blend into one total drone, yet upon examination each has its own wending and winding part to play. The usual repetition of "minimalist" music isn't so mechanically evident here, Wada's drones floating high into the expanses of space, combining with the rumbling earth-bound drums to achieve a sort of ceremonial aspect and dramatic impact. Yes, thank you EM! This is packaged in the usual excellent EM fashion, in a tri-fold sleeve with original liner notes in both English and Japanese translation, also b&w photographs, and a full-color reproduction of the original graphic score for "Off The Wall".
"Off The Wall I" MPEG Stream:
"Die Konsonanten Pfeifen"
WADA, YOSHI The Appointed Cloud (EM Records) cd 21.00
In reality, this was recorded live at the Great Hall of New York Hall of Science in New York, November 8th 1987. But listening to it, you could easily imagine it being part of some mysterious & portentous religious ritual, enacted high on the slopes of some vast Himalayan mountain by horn-blowing, drum-beating Tibetan monks... these monks perhaps being part of an aktion under the direction of dramatic drone artist Hermann Nitsch. Seriously. Well it's not Nitsch, it's Yoshi Wada, and there were no monks involved, but we're sure it was an impressive performance to witness in its own right. Certainly to hear, which thanks to EM Records, we all now can. This is the sequel to EM's previous reissue, some months ago, of Yoshi Wada's first album, Lament For The Rise And Fall Of Elephantine Crocodile. While that 1982 LP may have more rare record collector cachet, and be more historically significant chronologically speaking, we have to say that this one is at least as amazing. As we explained in our review of Lament, Wada is a Japanese visual artist and sound sculptor who relocated to New York in the '60s, where he aligned himself with the Fluxus conceptual art movement and definitely got deep into dronology. (He now lives in San Francisco, and for more information on his career, check out the June '08 issue of The Wire, #292, which features an interview with Wada conducted by AQ's own Jim Haynes.) The Appointed Cloud, a composition/sound installation "designed specifically for the acoustics of the cobalt blue cathedral of the Great Hall", utilized a massive Wada-designed soundmaking assemblage controlled by a computer interface, this unusual "pipe organ" constructed from compressed-air powered pipes, a suspended 20 foot long sheet of metal, and a steam pipe gong. In addition, Wada and the other musicians involved play timpani, tam tam, sirens, and a trio of keening bagpipes. All this in the majestic, modernistic stained-glass setting of the Great Hall. As alluded to above, this is somewhat suggestive of Buddhist ritual, and reminds us of Nitsch's large-scale symphonics as well. Rather than give a minute by minute play by play of this piece's hour-long duration, we'd encourage you to experience it for yourself. Experience the thundering drum vibrations, the percussive rattle, the quiet gentle tones and hushed rustle that erupt into dense bagpiping drone squeals and resonating rumble... it's grand and gorgeous. Physically this cd reish is up to EM's usual high standards, packaged in a gatefold sleeve with color photos, a reduced reproduction of the piece's graphic score, liner notes by Wada as well as the original program notes, in both English and Japanese. Soundwise, it's also up there with that first Wada disc among our favorite stuff that EM has yet released -- in other words, highly recommended!! Even moreso for those especially dronologically and/or 20th century classically inclined.
"excerpt 1" MPEG Stream:
WATA / AI ASO She's So Heavy (DIW Phalanx) 7"+book 32.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We noticed we still had a handful of these Boris rarities, and saw some popping up on eBay so we figured we would relist them in case anyone was still in the market for a pricey, exquistely designed 7" with lots of glamorous photos of Wata from Boris!!! Here's our review from when we listed these a while back: We took pre-orders on this ultra limited Boris rarity, but we managed to get a handful of extra copies, so for those folks who forgot to preorder, or folks who are only hearing about this now, here's your chance (however brief) to nab one of these… As with all Boris related stuff, this 7" photo book combo looks gorgeous. A 7"x7" softcover book, the cover a thick textured cream colored paper, the title embossed on the front cover, wrapped in a full color vellum obi, the text printed in metallic silver, with color photos of Wata from Boris and the members of the band sharing the split, Ai Aso. The book itself is nothing but glamour shots of the various women, full body shots, close ups of their faces, very fashion magazine looking, the pictures slightly distressed, the women posed in front of washed out colored backdrops. Strange, but heck, the pictures are quite nice, and the women are of course quite lovely, so who can complain. But here is a 7", and presumably, that's the main reason to pick this up (right?), it features Wata and Ai Aso each doing a cover, Ai Aso cover King Crimson's "Islands" and Wata covers Masashi Kitamura's "Angel" which we had never heard (or heard of) before. Ai Aso take "Islands" and let it unfurl softly and sweetly, a blissy dreamy drift, with hushed vocals over shimmering guitars, the drums are the focal point, way up in the mix and driving the song, almost martial at times, while at others shuffling along side the glimmering guitars. Very skeletal, but strangely lush at the same time and really quite pretty. Don't let the fact that the flipside is credited to Wata fool you, as the lineup is essentially all of Boris, AND Michio Kurihara. So it's basically the Rainbow lineup, with the addition of some other guy playing Mellotron! The track is gentle and tranquil, a soft focus psych folk, the guitars are simply strummed, the vocals and sweet and ethereal, the percussion is essentially just a tambourine, that is until the very end, when the band launch into a slow burning psychedelic freakout, not sure if it's Wata or Kurihara, but the guitar soars majestically, howling and screeching, wailing wildly over the dreamy strum underneath. Definitely sounds like it could have come from the same sessions that produced Rainbow, which is most definitely not a bad thing. LIMITED TO 1500 COPIES.
WATERFORM Water Town (Childisc) cd 18.98
WELLS, BILL & MAHER SHALAL HASH BAZ Osaka Bridge (Karaoke Kalk) cd 15.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. For a Scottish so-called jazz pianist, Bill Wells sure has lots of indie-rock cred, having had help at times in making his dreamy, mellow music from members of Belle and Sebastian and The Pastels, fellow Glaswegians to be sure. But with this new Osaka Bridge album he taps into the willfully naive soundworld of one of our very favorite underground Japanese psych-pop ensembles, the one and only Maher Shalal Hash Baz, teaming up with them presumably thanks to their shared connection with The Pastels' Geographic label. The music here is mostly written by Wells, but when filtered through the playing of his Japanese friends, it sounds so much like theirs. MSHB's childlike, almost Shaggsy musicianship semi-struggles playfully with Wells' compositions, making each track all the more beautiful for its fragility and simplicity of execution. Their approach, however lacking in musical chops, is perfect for what we know of Wells' penchant for melodious sound-sketches. In collaboration with MSHB, this is slow, languid, rainy day music... even the poppiest moments have a bittersweet aura. MSHB's trademark wavering horns are in full not-quite-jazz mode, and some of this sort of sounds like a '60s or '70 TV show theme music in spots, like Love American Style or a sitcom or something -- but that's not a diss, it's really pretty. Even prettier, are the tracks featuring beautiful, sad singing from Reiko Kudo, wife of MSHB leader Tori Kudo. Exquisite.
"Liquorice Tics" MPEG Stream:
"Time Takes Me So Back"
WHITE STATIC DEMON Apparitions (Utech) cd 14.98
You would think Justin Broadrick had enough going on, playing in Jesu, Pale Sketcher, Final, Grey Machine, Blood Of Heroes, running his Avalanche label, but apparently there's always time for more, not that we're complaining, we're always up for more of Broadrick's noise, and noise is precisely what we get from his White Static Demon, a power electronics powerhouse, that tempers full bore white heat hiss with crumbling textures and dark melodic drones. Two 20+ minute tracks, the first, a warped dronescape of processed electronic whirs and shimmers, pulsing and throbbing, a looped blur of gradually intensifying buzz drenched howl, underpinned by deep glitchy dubbed out thrums, before finally exploding into a super nova of Merzbowian white noise, a cascading wall of blinding skree and blown out crunch, but thankfully, this is no one dimensional noise record, instead, over the course of the rest of the track, the sound slips from superdistorted in-the-red buzz, to woozy weirdly melodic feedback drenched drift, to muted smoldering glitched out pulse, to tangled murky minimal click and shimmer, to corrosive hazy dronedirge crumble. And that's just the first track. Number two also begins hushed and textural, a swirling muted convergence of various strands of glitch and crunch and rumble and whir, gradually building, the sound getting filthier and crustier, a wave of blackened grinding noise, underpinned by strange almost sci-fi sounding synth melodies, and unlike the first track, this one doesn't let up, it definitely cycles through various permutations of blown out buzz and caustic white noise, but it's pretty dense and intense, flitting from burnished and blackened to spectral and effulgent, total head splitting blasts of in-the-red upper register skree, colliding with avalanches of damaged low end, all wrapped in sheets of sinister hiss and sent careening into the heart of the sun, the sound a flash of deafening and blinding white light and sound, laced with barely there bits of melody, but for the most part, a serious planet busting, magnitude 10 burst of sheer electronic power. Phew! Brutal, intense, heavy and noisy, and pretty fucking awesome, just maybe not for Broadrick dabblers, this one's most definitely for the iron eared, the stern of sonic constitution, and the power electronic elite!
"Endless Vacuum" MPEG Stream:
WORLD HERITAGE, THE Invitation To World Heritage (Magaibutsu) dvd + cd 17.98
Another Yoshida prog project!
WORLD STANDARD Jump For Joy (Daisyworld) cd 32.00
World Standard is a long running "ambient acoustic" project dedicated to the "American primitive spirit" produced by YMO founder Haruomi Hosono and run by Soichiro Suzuki. Windy didn't like this one as much as the last one, which was more sort of dreamy electronica. Volume three utilises guitar, piano, organ, glockenspiel, pedal steel, fiddle, banjo, euphonium, trumpet, saw, ukelele and more. They cover Albert Ayler's 'Ghosts' as well as a handful of 'traditionals'. Not sure how the last 'electronica' record necessarily paid tribute to the primitive American spirit, but this one sure does. The tunes are languid and dreamy, instruments sound warm and gauzy, with summery, back porch melodies and warm swells. Tentatively plucked guitar and loping horns, funereal but sort of hopeful at the same time. World Standard have definitely captured that 'old timey' sound. Think Souled American, Scott Tuma, Calexico, Orso, but with a brass band, some chirping birds, a few electronic tweaks here and there, a flat top barge floating lazily downstream, all day to leisurely strum and pluck and bow, not a cloud in the sky and not a care in the world.
"Crazy Crazy Crazy" RealAudio clip:
"Lotus Love" RealAudio clip:
"To A Wild Rose" RealAudio clip:
"Allegria Boricua Symphony"
WRIGHT, PETER Pretty Mushroom Clouds (aRCHIVE) cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. We've raved about New Zealander Peter Wright in the past, numerous times, we've even now that we check back at past reviews, raved ABOUT raving about Peter Wright, but we really have no choice now but to do it again. For someone as prolific, and as talented as Wright, he seems to continually to fly well beneath the hipster radar. Which is maybe good for us, but at the same time, it's hard not to root for someone who seems to effortlessly conjure up such beautiful sounds. But the thing is, we KNOW it's not effortless. The world is filled with folks who have a microphone and some effects, and think they can be soundscapers, field recordists, ARTISTS. And while that sort of spirit is to be applauded, the truth of the matter is, just like with anything, flying a jet, swimming the English Channel, playing the trumpet, racing Formula 1's, some people are just more talented than others. And Wright is just about as talented as they come. Weaving field recordings into longform drones, creating soundscapes from found sounds and processed guitars, Wright manages to create dreamlike expanses of sonic wonder. Take the first track here, the title track, it's hard not to imagine Pretty Little Mushroom Clouds. The sounds of birds, and wind, maybe branches rubbing against each other in the distance, while all around these sounds of nature, deep buzzing swells ebb and flow, dark, slightly ominous melodies, swell and recede, a super minimal pulse, a gorgeous cloud of shimmer drifting across verdant hills and blue blue sky. You can almost imagine, lush rolling hills, dotted with wildflowers, cute little houses, scattered copses of trees, birds soaring in the sky, while way off in the distance, huge black mushroom clouds blossom in the sky, but from here, they just look beautiful, the music capturing that moment before everything is turned to ash, a brief vacuum, where even the vilest of objects is transformed into a vivid picturesque sonic snapshot. Over the rest of the record, the field recordings are much more subtle, relying more on the processed instrumentation, guitars are ground into muted walls reverberating buzz, rife with disembodied melodies, streaks of high end and bits of rumbling drone, some tracks are massive and pitched down, the sound of drifting beneath miles of ice in the Arctic Circle, everything glowing some unearthly blue, all the sounds muted and warbled, others are nearly ebullient, like the perfectly titled "The Devil Wears Sunroof", which from the sound of it we can only assume is a nod to Matthew Bower and his Ur-drone unit, all glistening high end shimmer, and long stretches of buzzing upper register guitar. The final track finds Wright taking all of his various sounds and assembling them into a super hypnotic, strangely heavy looped take on, well, Loop actually, a repeated riff, a static groove, totally mesmerizing and space-y, eventually building to a full on blast of almost Japanoise, before petering out, leaving just the sound of an airport terminal or a train station, or a huge sparsely filled performance space as it's revealed to be, when the crowd finally offers up some applause, for what may have been a live performance, or may have been just a random bit of live crowd sound sampled and woven into Wright's mysterious sonic sprawl. As always, amazing packaging from aRCHIVE. Six panel full color glossy gatefold, the cd affixed to a nub on the middle panel, while around the jacket, an outer sleeve of printed vellum. Super nice. Limited to 500 copies, single one time pressing.
"Pretty Mushroom Clouds" MPEG Stream:
"The Devil Wears Sunroof"
WRK s/t (V2 Archief) cd 15.98
A collaborative effort between likeminded Japanese hyperminimalists Toshiya Tsunoda, Hiroyuki Iida, Jiro Shimizu, and m/s is an exercise in persistance, as pure tone sine-waves extend unwaveringly, high-speed digital glitch manipulation tumbles slowly into low-end rumbles, and speak-n-spell collages prove to be quite unnerving.
XENAKIS, IANNIS Persepolis + Remixes Edition 1 (Asphodel) 2cd 14.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. One of legendary 20th century new music composer Iannis Xenakis' most heralded works, "Persepolis" is here remixed by some of today's most adventurous musicians. Though the liner notes clumsily attempt some high brow hoo-ha internationalist theory about why the chosen remixers are appropriate for this project -- "Creative modernism is left with choosing between authoritarianism and religion. Hence, the inclusion of a second disc of remixes..." (hence? huh?) -- the obvious reason why these remixers appear is because, like Xenakis, they manipulate noise, musique concrete, and take experimental music to conceptual and sonic extremes. It makes aural sense; don't give me political wish-wash. Anyway, here's what we've written about Persepolis, which is on the first disc here: Attention all you avantgarde electronic music fans! Important reissue alert! Iannis Xenakis' "Persepolis" was originally commissioned in 1971 as large-scale sound installation for the Shiraz-Persepolis Festival of the Arts in Iran. "Persepolis" -- Xenakis' longest electro-acoustic composition -- originally involved 8 channels of dense electro-acoustic material broadcast through the vast complex of the ruined Palaces of Persepolis along with a massive display of arclights, fireworks, and bonfires. Xenakis arranges slow tectonic rumbles and rough granular trebliness with extended passages of what could have been the bowed metal of Organum if Jackman et. al. were tumbling down a flight of stairs... "Persepolis" engages the visceral and the physical in a way that no other academic / musique concrete / electro-acoustic / minimalist piece has ever done before. It's frightening how powerful this piece of music is, even to one familiar with more recent massive electronic displays by MB, Merzbow, and Organum. The remixers include: Ryoji Ikeda, Zbigniew Karkowski, Otomo Yoshihide, Francisco Lopez, Antimatter, Merzbow, Laminar, Ulf Lanheinrich, and more. A veritable noise fest. Construction site rumblings. Very difficult listening. If nothing else, this is a perfect introductory sampler of not only Xenakis but also some of AQ's favorite experimentalists. Nice price -- two discs for the price of one.
"Persepolis (Ryoji Ikeda remix)" RealAudio clip:
"Persepolis (Merzbow remix)"
XINLISUPREME Murder License (Fat Cat) cd 11.98
Gosh, somebody must have convinced wall-of-sound Japanese "noise-pop" duo Xinlisupreme that their last album "Tomorrow Never Comes" wasn't noisy enough. 'Cause though we'd not have thought it possible, it seems they've upped the mayhem quotient here, on this 7-track followup! Heavily distorted, uh, distortion, with pretty little melodies and beats buried beneath. An extreme electronic blend of My Bloody Valentine, Digital Hardcore, DJ Scud, Merzbow, and stuff like by these feedback-lovin' popsters. We think this is quite nice, though for some that word might seem strange in context of Xinlisupreme's up-front loudness and chaos. Recommended.
"Murder License" RealAudio clip:
"Front Of You"
XRATEDX / ZENI GEVA (Pandemonium) 7" 3.99
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. ZG: Japanese guttural proto metal sludge. XrX: Noisey arythmic industrial tinged french noise rock.
YAMAMOTO, SEIICHI Baptism (Tzadik) cd 16.98
Here's the second offering on John Zorn's Tzadik label from Japan's Seiichi Yamamoto, famed guitarist for the Boredoms and Omoide Hatoba. For some reason the blurb on this disc's obi strip says this is Yamamoto's first ever solo guitar recording, but if you've got his NOA 2 solo album on Alchemy you've already heard a disc of his unaccompanied six-string improvs. However, Baptism's obi is quite correct in referencing Derek Bailey and Fred Frith (and Joseph Spence too) in regard to the influences on Yamamoto's avant-garde electric and acoustic guitar playing here. Rather than freaking out on a stage with big amps and lots of effects like he used to do in Boredoms, what Yamamoto is doing here sounds like he's sitting in a chair, bent over his instrument, carefully coaxing from it his chosen notes and near-notes. It's pensive, sometimes quite pretty, and always a little abstract and unpredictable. While there's gotta be a lot of improvisation involved, certain of the tracks were probably written and rehearsed, and I think he works with some overdubs (or loops) to multitrack his playing on occasion. Overall, experimental but not abrasive. I wouldn't mind relaxing on the sofa with a cup of tea some afternoon while Yamamoto sketches out these lovely instrumentals.
"Humming" MPEG Stream:
YAMAMOTO, SEIICHI Crown of Fuzzy Groove (P-Vine) cd 22.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. After his two "NOA" albums of studio and live guitar noise improv for the Alchemy label, Seiichi Yamamoto (you know him as a key member of such bands as the Boredoms, Omoide Hatoba, and Rovo, of course!) now offers up a "proper" solo album of instrumental, electronic groove-based songs. Or shall we say "songs". Knowing Mr. Yamamoto, things aren't in any way normal. Already heading this direction with Rovo, Yamamoto has unleashed his inner Bill Laswell to craft an ambient, trancey album that's not noisy, but full of noises. Flanging effects and skittering percussion lead us into happy, mellow electro hippy jams, not unlike recent Boredoms (aka Voordoms) on E, all moonlight and flowers and smiling cartoon fish splashing translucent in the air. Maybe this melodic, organic, techno-ish music won't be to the liking of old Boredoms fans into their harder, spazzier stuff, but that's not Yamamoto's concern here. He's just getting his fuzzy groove on.
"Terminal Mind" RealAudio clip:
YAMAMOTO, SEIICHI NOA (Alchemy) cd 21.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Solo album from Omoide Hatoba/Boredoms guitarist.
YAMAMOTO, SEIICHI NOA 2 (Alchemy) cd 21.00
Probably one of the most out-of-the-ordinary releases from Alchemy (known for their consistent output of harsh, abrasive music) is this equally unusual turn from Osaka's Seiichi Yamamoto (guitarist for Boredoms as well as leader of numerous eclectic acts, most notably Omoide Hatoba). NOA 2, instrumentation-wise, is just Yamamoto on guitar -- untreated, and untextured (read: no overdubs), quite the polar opposite of his previous solo effort, NOA, which was full of texture, noise and dynamics. Not to say there are no dynamics here (or noise), as NOA 2 starts off as minimal abstraction a la Derek Bailey -- angular, nontraditional playing style with much restraint and control. The disc progresses through each track to reveal more of the Yamamoto we've become familiar with over the years: free "jazz" freakouts reminiscent of Sonny Sharrock or more accurately, the noise breaks heard on classic Boredoms records like Soul Discharge or Pop Tatari! Where Yamamoto's first NOA disc seemed like the result of much studio crafting, this one sounds more like an evening's improv session. At times sparse, at times speedy, definitely one for "out" guitar fans into the more abstract works of Bailey, Kevin Drumm, Masayuki Takayanagi, Brian Ruryk, that sort of thing.
YAMAMOTO, SEIICHI Nu Frequency (Tzadik) cd 16.98
The fourth solo album from the undeniably talented and deniably normal Boredoms guitarist (also of Omoide Hatoba, Rovo, etc.). There's less "fuzzy groove" than his last album, more of the abstract textural noisescapes and improv guitarisms heard on his first two solo discs on Alchemy, though with a distinctly "cool" vibe, jazzier than those other records for sure. Definitely makes sense it's on Tzadik, it's as much downtown New York as downtown Osaka. It's a varied menu of avant-delicacies from glitchy gamelan-like tones (generated with guitar?) n' skittery percussion to jazz bass and high-pitched electronics, all sorts of stuff goin' on -- some of it quite pretty. Far from Boredoms insanity/energy however. A nice album, though it probably can (and will) be safely overlooked by those without already a shelf full of Boredoms/Zorn/Tzadik stuff, though you'll never know what you might be missing...
YAMAMOTO, TATSUHISA & MUNEOMI SENJU A Thousand Mountains (Doubtmusic) cd 24.00
To start with, we've always commended Japan's Doubtmusic label for the handsome packaging job that each one of their digipack cd releases invariably receives. This one, though, we'd probably be inclined to buy just 'cause of the especially cool cover art alone! Done by one Tomoo Gokita, the cover suggests an arched window in a brightly patterned wall, looking out on (a photo of) some majestic snow-capped alpine mountain (the Matterhorn, is it?). But in front of the "window", the corpse-painted visage of King Diamond pokes up unexpectedly, screaming at you... WITH, IF YOU LOOK CLOSELY, A MINIATURE HEAD IN HIS MOUTH. Quite confusionally cool, eh? But for what sort of music could this art be at all appropriate? Well, why not an electronics-augmented Japanese drums duo featuring someone who once played in the Boredoms/Vooredoms?! 'Cause that's what this is, with a vengeance. Erstwhile Boredom Muneomi Senju (drums, percussion, electronics) teams up with Tasuhisa Yamamoto (drums, metals, percussion, gong, odaiko drums) for 7 tracks of mostly percussion-only soundscapery, from "primitive groove" to "wall of onkyo" in style, according to Doubtmusic's description, which also cites poly-rhythms and harmonic overtones as things you'll hear here, and we don't doubt it, these tracks are widely varied and always intriguing, certainly bizarre enough at times to merit the colorful, epic high weirdness of that awesome album cover art! The likes of "Foggy In Aquarium" and "Coral Flirtation" feature calm, complex layers of percussive playing, free-jazzy but not really free, with lots of bells and chimes and liquid tricklings... tinklings and twinklings... lovely stuff! THEN, there's the erratic and effected thwap-and-snap of "Scattered Devils". Zany, zappy drum hits and other bits that sound sampled from some futuristic Carl Stalling cartoon score, cut-and-pasted with slaphappy abandon together with electronic textures, ultimately funking it up in fractured, spastic fashion that reminds us of another recent Doubtmusic release, Sim + Otomo's Monte Alto Estate. Perhaps 'cause this track was further remixed by guest producer Yuta Segawa, it's the most "computery" sounding cut on here, whereas the rest of this disc comes off as much more organic, without all that obvious digital tomfoolery (cool though we think it is). Organic, AND trancelike, such as with the ritualistic rainfall pitter patter percussion, swirling and circling, of "Correspon-dance", or the endless drum-roll and cymbal-shimmer of the 8 minute plus "Fricative Lights" - very Boredoms Super Rootsy, that one! Now as we've always said, about the only "drum circle" we can stand is one that involves the Boredoms. But two drummers does not a drum circle make AND there's a Boredoms connection both sound- and personnel-wise here. So unless you HATE percussion, this is definitely an out-there experiment in rhythm(z) to check out. Speaking of drum circles, opener "Chronoscope Fatigue" and closer "Chronoscope Fatigue Variation" are the closest this duo come to that sort of thing here, and that's not that close, unless you're familiar with drum circles that make a practice of all falling down the stairs while they're jamming...
"Coral Flirtation" MPEG Stream:
"Scattered Devils" MPEG Stream:
YAMANTAKA, EYE Artist Music Journal, Edition 12 (Soundscreen Design) book 13.98
nn most Boredoms and related releases, we have always loved. So this is total eyecandy for us Eye fans, a 24 page, 8" x 8" softcover, saddle stitched book featuring not covers for records Eye has released (which is what we thought it was going to be), but actually all artwork for dozens of insane IMAGINARY bands (and formats!) he made up just for this project! We love it. Each page features 2 or 3 different "releases", with both sleeve art and the disc itself pictured. So for instance there's Sunarchy's "Volume" 12" picture disc, Satori Disco's "Groovy1" 10" water blue disc, and Crackederic's "Yellp", which claims to be a 22 inch "Balloon disc". Yeah, that's right, some of them get really unlikely or impossible. How about Armed LyF's "Junk", a 12" rasta color no centerhole disc? Or VhV's "Steamed Bun" release, a 4" bun on 12" black disc? Or Age "2", supposedly a 1 inch black disc? And then there's Googloom's "Gog In" googles shape disc (what looks like two 7"s melted together side by side) and Googloom's "Gog Out", a 2" broken disc! Those aren't even the craziest ones. In addition to enjoying the visuals, this of course puts our imaginations into overdrive wishing we could HEAR these bands too, wondering what they sound like. Some of them provide clues, we know that Donoid's 12" contains a Wang Chung cover ("Everybody Dub Tonight"), while D.A.M.'s "Don't Ask Me" 7" is apparently "South Fla. Hardcore", hence the mohawked skater depicted on the sleeve. This is Number 12 in a series of music-related art and design "journals", so we might have to get some of the earlier entries in as well, in fact there's a Daniel Higgs one that's pretty cool (of course) and we do have a couple of those in stock. All the journals in the series are packaged in 10" record sleeves, as well. Super cool.
YAMASH'TA, STOMU Red Buddha (Spalax) cd 14.98
YAMASHTA'S, STOMU RED BUDDHA THEATRE The Man From The East (Esoteric) cd 21.00
Japanese early '70s fusion, a good one.
YAMASHTA, STOMU & COME TO THE EDGE Floating Music (Esoteric) cd 21.00
Japanese early '70s fusion, another good one.
YAMASUKI SINGERS, THE Le Monde Fabuleux Des (Finders Keepers) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Everytime we've played this delicious reissue in the store, people have eagerly inquired, "Oooh, what's this?!" If you dig music that gleefully jumps boundaries and melts together genres with whimsical abandon (but NOT in the current irony-sodden, just-fuckin'-around fashion) -- in this case, a cross-cultural funneling in on the sounds of French Ye Ye Girl pop, far-out Japanese psych and prog influences, some almost-Carpenters level sing-song-y glorious pop, and assorted other vintage Euro-funkiness -- well then, Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki is for YOU! Lovingly mastered from the original tapes by one of the original producers Monsieur Jean Kluger, this is the first time these recordings have been released on cd. Apparently there was originally one album and two singles released under the name The Yamasuki Singers on the French label Biram back in 1971. Needless to say, they've been next to impossible to find for years. If you're eager to get the skinny on Yamasuki, the project's lively history is printed in English in the liner notes, but there's also an added bonus on the back page of the booklet. If your French comprehension is any good, you can find out how to do the dance moves -- le salut, la joie, la peur, la grace, le combat, attaque (translation of this move's description: one assumes karate positions while shouting "caa ooh") and hara kiri! By today's standards, you might find some of the 'oriental' (ahem, Asian) elements downright corny (the first song begins with a gong, and songs are introduced by a black-belt judo master!), but the sheer exuberance of the performances sweeps away any possibility of scowling criticisms. The sticker on the front proclaims "A fuzzed-out-educational-multi-cultural psych-rock-opera from 1971. Proto-psychedelic hip-hop with overweight drum beats and basslines!" Who's gonna argue with that?! Not us, we particularly appreciate the record label's use of the word "overweight". Yeah, we can hear what they're gettin' at -- the rhythm section is pretty thumpin' and hefty -- but it still made us giggle. Anyways, not to be super nit-picky but although this is indeed a conceptual album, after reading the liner notes we deduced that it's not so much a 'rock opera' per se, but more like a dance performance with lots of choral accompaniments. So who was behind all of this wonderful madness? Two French producer/composers, the aforementioned Kluger and Daniel Vangarde... and various children's choirs singing in Japanese. Ultra bizarre, campy, freaky and outrageous (again, even by today's standards!), we've got a sneaking suspicion that Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks probably saw/heard Yamasuki 'cause there sure are some striking resemblances with their own deliriously fantastic Kimono My House album that came out a few years later in 1974. You might find it sorta Zappa-ish too. Heck, it even spawned a dance move, "The Yamasuki"! Oh yeah, and if the fifth song "AIEAOA" sounds oddly familiar, you might recognize it as a song covered by Bananarama. Apparently the gals heard a version recorded by a band from Zaire (!), and loved it so much that they covered the cover "Aie A Mwana" and made it their first single! Cup sez "Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!" Who's gonna argue with that, either?! Recommended, along with the other amazing reissue on the Finders Keepers label we reviewed last week, Jean-Claude Vannier's L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches.
"Okawa" MPEG Stream:
"Aieaoa" MPEG Stream:
YAMASUKI SINGERS, THE Le Monde Fabuleux Des (Finders Keepers) lp 27.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Everytime we've played this delicious reissue in the store, people have eagerly inquired, "Oooh, what's this?!" If you dig music that gleefully jumps boundaries and melts together genres with whimsical abandon (but NOT in the current irony-sodden, just-fuckin'-around fashion) -- in this case, a cross-cultural funneling in on the sounds of French Ye Ye Girl pop, far-out Japanese psych and prog influences, some almost-Carpenters level sing-song-y glorious pop, and assorted other vintage Euro-funkiness -- well then, Le Monde Fabuleux Des Yamasuki is for YOU! Lovingly mastered from the original tapes by one of the original producers Monsieur Jean Kluger, this is the first time these recordings have been released on cd. Apparently there was originally one album and two singles released under the name The Yamsuki Singers on the French label Biram back in 1971. Needless to say, they've been next to impossible to find for years. If you're eager to get the skinny on Yamasuki, the project's lively history is printed in English in the liner notes, but there's also an added bonus on the back page of the booklet. If your French comprehension is any good, you can find out how to do the dance moves -- le salut, la joie, la peur, la grace, le combat, attaque (translation of this move's description: one assumes karate positions while shouting "caa ooh") and hara kiri! By today's standards, you might find some of the 'oriental' (ahem, Asian) elements downright corny (the first song begins with a gong, and songs are introduced by a black-belt judo master!), but the sheer exuberance of the performances sweeps away any possibility of scowling criticisms. The sticker on the front proclaims "A fuzzed-out-educational-multi-cultural psych-rock-opera from 1971. Proto-psychedelic hip-hop with overweight drum beats and basslines!" Who's gonna argue with that?! Not us, we particularly appreciate the record label's use of the word "overweight". Yeah, we can hear what they're gettin' at -- the rhythm section is pretty thumpin' and hefty -- but it still made us giggle. Anyways, not to be super nit-picky but although this is indeed a conceptual album, after reading the liner notes we deduced that it's not so much a 'rock opera' per se, but more like a dance performance with lots of choral accompaniments. So who was behind all of this wonderful madness? Two French producer/composers, the aforementioned Kluger and Daniel Vangarde... and various children's choirs singing in Japanese. Ultra bizarre, campy, freaky and outrageous (again, even by today's standards!), we've got a sneaking suspicion that Ron and Russell Mael of Sparks probably saw/heard Yamasuki 'cause there sure are some striking resemblances with their own deliriously fantastic Kimono My House album that came out a few years later in 1974. You might find it sorta Zappa-ish too. Heck, it even spawned a dance move, "The Yamasuki"! Oh yeah, and if the fifth song "AIEAOA" sounds oddly familiar, you might recognize it as a song covered by Bananarama. Apparently the gals heard a version recorded by a band from Zaire (!), and loved it so much that they covered the cover "Aie A Mwana" and made it their first single! Cup sez "Yaaaaaaaaaaaay!" Who's gonna argue with that, either?! Recommended, along with the other amazing reissue on the Finders Keepers label we reviewed last week, Jean-Claude Vannier's L'Enfant Assassin Des Mouches.
"Okawa" MPEG Stream:
"Aieaoa" MPEG Stream:
YAMATAKA EYE & JOHN ZORN Naninani II (Tzadik) cd 16.98
To certain ears, to fans of fucked-up avant-garde noisy ridiculousness (like us), the names John Zorn and Yamataka Eye separately but especially together are magical ones. To be perfectly honest, I (Allan) would have to credit the two of them, via Zorn's seminal genre-gargling "jazz" group Naked City for which Eye vocalised, for helping me on the way towards first experiencing some of the really fundamental, now-long-time-fave artists of my personal musical pantheon...(Eye's band) the Boredoms, then the Ruins, and from thence the whole Japanese noise (and psych, and prog) scene... So this disc is for folks like me/you/us. The extreme sax of Zorn, the extreme vocals of Eye, the additional extreme musical imaginings of both of 'em, combined on one crazy disc, the follow-up to their previous Naninani album on Tzadik from about nine years ago...wow, has it been that long? The obi strip on this cd points out that Eye and Zorn have been occasional musical collaborators for about twenty years now, having first met in Japan in 1986! So yeah, good thing we weren't holding our breath for this one. But it had to happen. And it holds up with the first Naninani (though, there's no beating "Bad Hawkwind") and their psuedo-historical disc of cantorial-inspired singing Zohar as well. The tracks here are quite diverse -- the first sounds like hysterical foreign children trapped in some physics experiment, while others are textural/drone experiments or are more overtly sax/jazz oriented freekouts. But even in a blindfold test, after hearing a few tracks fans of the duo should have no trouble guessing who is (ir)responsible for this.
"Fuckxotica" MPEG Stream:
"Bar Time With Eno"
YAMATAKA, EYE Re...Remix? Remix Works By Yamataka Eye (Shock City) cd 36.00
Boredoms fans!! Bandleader Eye Yamataka, when not conducting the Boredoms themselves through thunderous drum-circle tranceouts, has a sideline in doing remixes for other artists, incorporating the same mega dosage of percussive craziness, throbbing rhythm, and swerve-y turntablist glitch that you'd find spilling forth from the most way-out Boredoms tracks. If you picked up Lindstrom's Contemporary Fix remix ep that we listed a couple weeks back you've heard a good example of Eye's handiwork. This Japan-only import disc brings together a dozen other of his best recent remix projects, the raw material coming from bands both known and unknown (to us). All of 'em -- except for Gong -- being Japanese bands we're pretty sure. Along with Gong, some of the names we do know: OOIOO, Wrench, DJ Pica Pica Pica (who IS Eye, right?), and Ken Ishii's Flare. And the names we don't: Walrus, Zeebra, Atami, Black Drop The Bomb, NXS, Boat, and one more we can't figure out (it's written in Japanese). Given the headspinning EYE extreme remix treatment, these artists' disparate tracks sound like they belong together on one disc for sure, he's put his surreal stamp on each of 'em big time. It's a colorful, energetic melange of tribal drumming, barnyard noises, faux ethnic exotica, techno beats, tape manipulations, guitar riffs, and heaps of psychedelic electronic effects.
DJ PICA PICA PICA "SPA" MPEG Stream:
GONG "Master Builder"
YANAGIDA, HIRO s/t (Skyf Zol) cd 15.98
Japanese seventies psych rock, wild and crazy, from... 1971. Cool! This is the first time we've encountered a reissue of this album, the follow-up to keyboardist Yanagida's well-regarded solo debut Milk Time. It features Kimo Mizutani (on some seriously *piercing* lead fuzz guitar!!) who was a member of legendary weird psych-prog acts Love Live Life +1 and Food Brain along with Yanagida. And also guesting on this album is Joey Smith of Speed, Glue & Shinki and Juan de la Cruz fame (his "doo wop" vocals on the pot-positive love song "My Dear Mary" are worth a chuckle). This is really all over the place -- we're partial to the heavier instrumental numbers like "The Butcher" and "The Murder In The Midnight" but the gentler, poppier fare like "Always" and "Melancholy" or the flutey "The Skyscraper 42nd F" are enjoyable too. Overall this can be described as proggy, a bit bluesy, Hammond-grooving, and sorta wacky. And again we should mention that there's just a heckuva lot of that aforementioned high-end, ear-canal invading guitar tone from Mizutani. Sounds like a bug zapper, we're diggin' it! Oh, and based on the surface noise, we don't think this is a reissue from the master tapes...
"The Butcher" MPEG Stream:
YBO2 Greatest Hits Volume 1 (SSE Communications) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Before starting Ruins, Tatsuya Yoshida played in this unusual 80's avant-progrock band, along with K.K. Null of Zeni Geva, original Ruins bassist Hideki Kawamoto, and mainman (on bass, vocals, & keyboards) Kitamura Masashi. These two volumes collect the "greatest hits" from their many records--a bunch of weirdness, all dark, emotional, complex and heavy stuff, including an interpretation of a Paul Simon tune! Recommended to all fans of Ruins!
YBO2 Greatest Hits Volume 2 (SSE Communications) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Before starting Ruins, Tatsuya Yoshida played in this unusual 80's avant-progrock band, along with K.K. Null of Zeni Geva, original Ruins bassist Hideki Kawamoto, and mainman (on bass, vocals, & keyboards) Kitamura Masashi. These two volumes collect the "greatest hits" from their many records--a bunch of weirdness, all dark, emotional, complex and heavy stuff, including an interpretation of a Paul Simon tune! Recommended to all fans of Ruins!