V/A Extreme Music From Japan (Susan Lawly) cd 18.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. The first "extreme music" compilation from Susan Lawly, released in 1994. Along with collections like Come Again II (Vanilla / Furnace) and World Record (Alchemy), Extreme Music From Japan is an indispensible document of noise and power electronics from the country that mastered the genre. Fifteen exclusive tracks from heavyweights Merzbow, Hijokaidan, Masonna, Incapacitants, Gerogerigegege, as well as lesser-knowns Government Alpha, Niku-Zidousha, Hentaitenno, and What A Smell. Compiled by William Bennett of Whitehouse.
V/A Fujirekodsu (Fujirekodsu) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. What the hell am I listening to? That's the reaction to a few minutes spent with this comp in the cd player. It's a very weird mix of stuff! Fujirekodsu is a new label set up by Tokyo's Cha-Bashira and Cologne's A-Musik labels to release unknown and unusual music from Japan and Europe (and all the artists on here, Japanese or not, either live or have spent time in Japan). This new label/project has received some assistance from the Tokyo record shop Los Apson, who some might recall released a bizarre compilation of their own back in '96 or so. We are told that this is sort of part II of that, and it is equally crazed. Don't get the idea that this is your typical Japanese noise thing, as it's not particularily noisy in the Merzbow sense; rather, there's a lot of different musical styles on here, including electronic groove, installation sounds, "actionism", lo-fi pop, and odd glitch-works. Nothing remotely ordinary however. Some of the names involved (a few that folks might know, but not many!): Why Sheep?, Smurf Otoko Gumi, Susumu Yokota, Christophe Charles/Brandon Labelle/Steve Roden, Q of Q, Noise Ramones (Eye and Yoshimi of Boredoms), Evil Moisture, Hair Stylistics, AOA, Rudolpf Eb.er, Nagata Kazunao, Tennessees, American Cherry, Tapes Klar!, L?K?O?, Vagamoron, many more. There's 29 tracks of this insanity. Pretty cool!
V/A Grind Bastards 3 (Grind Freaks) cd 14.98
With a title like Grind Bastards, you can safely assume that this comp is indeed directly targeted at you, the grind bastards. And we know there are some serious grind bastards among the aQ faithful. Anyone who has gone nuts in the past for Agoraphobic Nosebleed, or Pig Destroyer, or Discordance Axis, or Last Days Of Humanity, we could go on and on and on, so yeah, dig a little deeper and discover a whole world of grind going on UNDER the underground. Grind Bastards collects some of the best Japanese grind from mostly bands you've never heard of, but NEED to. Heavy, buzzing, blasting, frenzied, frenetic, pummeling, crushing, a dizzying swirl of metal riffage, furious blast beats, grunted cookie monster vocals, inhuman blackened shrieks, hooks all over the place, and some of the heaviest catchiest under a minute shit you'll ever hear. Little Bastards, Magnicide, Mortalized, Butcher ABC, Cortecuellos, Brob, Mangirl, Fortitude, Bleeding Humanity, D.I.E., Kutsujoku, Deadly Spawn, Zagio Evha Dilegj and of course Unholy Grave, whose label Grind Freaks released this (and who also run the amazing all black metal and grind and doom record store Grave in Japan). Dense and dizzyingly complex, next level heaviness for sure, fast and crusty enough for punk rockers, riffy and brutal enough for metalheads, and definitely a rad grind primer for the newbies. BTW: We also have a few copies of Grind Bastards 2, which besides totally ruling as well, just so happens to feature one of our favorite grind jams ever, a 51 second grindpop gem by Mortalized (who have 2 songs here) covering pop punkers Propaghandi.
LITTLE BASTARDS "Lie, Deceive, Steal" MPEG Stream:
MAGNICIDE "Misery Of An Existence" MPEG Stream:
MORTALIZED "Funeral Grind" MPEG Stream:
CORTECUELLOS "Don't Call Japanese Hardcore Japcore" MPEG Stream:
MANGIRL "Ghoul Gurumand" MPEG Stream:
UNHOLY GRAVE "Cruel Terror"
V/A Grind Bastards 4 (Grind Freaks) cd 14.98
Okay grind bastards, time for round 4, another awesome collection of some of the best grind that Japan, and the rest of the world, has to offer. But like on past installments, this is not the grind you know and love, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Last Days Of Humanity, Discordance Axis, Hayaino Daisuki, Brutal Truth, Pig Destroyer, Nasum, that's all mainstream by comparison, this is the grind underground, some names you might know, you might even have records by Unholy Grave, whose label Grind Freaks is responsible for this mayhem, or Total Fucking Destruction, and then there's a bunch of bands you probably only know from past installments of Grind Bastards like Mortalized, Fortitude, Little Bastards, and in addition this time around a there's whole new crop of bands we'd never heard 'til now: Vulgaroyal Bloodhill, Zomba Green, Disgunder, Diborce, Ada Max, Black Ganion, and more more more. This isn't really for dabblers though, this is sort of the grind version of grim, kvlt, true, the sounds here insane and ultra aggressive, over the top, a relentless assault on the senses, a crushing barrage of grinding buzzsaw riffage, blasting hyperspeed drumming, crazed vocals that yelp, howl, grunt, screech, the songs ultra proggy, a million parts and tempos crammed into the space of a minute or two, the sounds vary from blasts of blacknoise, to groovy almost classic metal, to white hot blasts of old school grind, to twisted effects drenched grinding avant metal freakouts, to galloping fastcore, to helping almost Melt-Banana sounding hypergrind, to epic war grind, to some almost poppy grind, some seriously gurgling goregrind, a few tracks get into 3 and 4 even 5 minutes, while others blow by in seconds, furious and frenzied and frantic and fantastically fucked up, this is some of the raddest, heaviest, most brutal and inventive grind you'll hear, anyone into fast and heavy, blasting brutality, this will kick your ass big time, and like past volumes, this would be a pretty epic grind primer, and like those volumes, this couldn't be more recommended. Killer packaging too, a massive fold out punk rock poster, with each band getting their own little panel of liner notes...
MORTALIZED "Hate Your World" MPEG Stream:
DISGUNDER "Ruminate / Incise" MPEG Stream:
ADA MAX "Electric Shock" MPEG Stream:
TOTAL FUCKING DESTRUCTION "Battle Command In Future" MPEG Stream:
VULGAROYAL BLOODHILL "Quitar Las Tripas A Un Dios" MPEG Stream:
FORTITUDE "Cadaverous Faces"
V/A Grind Bastards 5 (Grind Freaks) cd 14.98
Once again, this one is for all the Grind Bastards out there, the fifth in this long running series of Japanese comps, collecting the best of (mostly) Japanese grind, released on the Grind Freaks label, run by legendary Japanese grinders Unholy Grave, who are present here, along with some other longtime faves: Mortalized, Agothocles and some others. But the best part of these comps is discovering all the weird ultra underground grind outfits you'd most likely not hear anywhere else: Red Ran Amber, Ada Max, Extreme Noise Destroyer, Hell And Hell, Easies, Fortitude, Midnight Resurrector, Naqro, Parasite and more! Obviously, this comp is called Grind Bastards, on a label called Grind Freaks, so odds are if you made it this far you know what you're getting into, fast and furious, blasting, churning, chugging, GRINDing heaviness, frenzied beats, insane riffing, howled and screeched vox, total metallic chaos, blurry punk mayhem, short sharp blasts of super complex, downtuned intricate metallic grind. We're digging Red Ran Amber, who if all was fair would be getting the same love as say Wormrot, Pig Destroyer or any of the other grind outfits on Relapse, Mortalized offer up another minute long epic, further convincing us that they might have the potential to be our favorite grinders if they only had more material out and it was a lot easier to track down, Extreme Noise Destroyer offer up some sort of distortion drenched bit of acoustic guitar weirdness before launching into some serious downtuned devastation, the Easies spit out blasts of super blown out and in-the-red chaos, Brob offer up some seriously old school powerviolence fastcore grind, their sound thick and caustic, Parasite are almost straight up classic eighties metal, complete with super melodic harmonized guitar leads, while Naqro might be a new favorite, their super raw lo-fi sound impossibly dense and heavy, their sound swinging wildly from frantic grind to swinging almost groovy metallic churn, and Midnight Resurrector kick out the straight up hip hop, not sure if they're normally a grind band or they just have some grind cred (they do infuse their sound with some fat fuzzy bass, and some Hawd Gangstah style bellowed rapping). Already can't wait for volume six! Comes in a cool fold out punk rock poster style sleeve.
RED RAN AMBER "Demitri" MPEG Stream:
ADA MAX "Untitled" MPEG Stream:
MORTALIZED "Asino Wa Ruia Itu" MPEG Stream:
EXTREME NOISE DESTROYER "Intro" MPEG Stream:
LITTLE BASTARDS "Last Ride" MPEG Stream:
V/A Ikiteru Kachi Ari: A Tribute To Jojo Hiroshige (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. Maybe only John Zorn's Tzadik label devotes as many releases as the Japanese (Kansai region) Alchemy label does to stuff to do specifically with the activity of the label-boss! It seems like almost every recent Alchemy disc has been a Jojo Hiroshige project of some sort, whether it be a solo DVD or a best-of or the current series of reissues of his seminal noise band Hijokaidan. Of course, we're all for it, we love his stuff, diverse as it is, from full-on noise assault to spacey drone to folky melodiousness... So, perhaps no surprise that this latest Alchemy release is a various artists TRIBUTE compilation to the "King Of Noise", the very same Jojo Hiroshige. And no surprise (or maybe a little bit of one) that it's so very diverse too! These ten cover tracks by ten different artists range from shambolic pop to frenzied punk to blissed out psych to harsh industrial mayhem. Several familiar faces from the Alchemy roster show up -- "Love Love Love" as performed by female psychsters Doodles is particularly lovely, while Solmania's contribution of psychedelic guitar drone is uncharacteristically calm and beautiful. And as an appropriate finale, Masonna chimes in with some full-on noise as is his trademark, the first new recording from the hopping one in a long, long time. A lot of the contributors seem to be making a definite Kansai / Kraut konnection here in paying tribute to the admittedly Krautrock influenced oeuvre of Alchemy bossman Jojo. Recommended to all fans of out-there Japanese psych, rock, and noise action.
SOLMANIA "track 6" MPEG Stream:
YOSHIHARU KAKOI "track 7"
V/A Improvised Music From Japan (Improvised Music From Japan) 10cd box 165.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Oh boy, this is nice. A roughly 6"x6"x2" wooden box, housing a thick booklet and five beautiful colored cardboard double cd sleeves, containing ten cds amongst them. On the cds (and described in print in the booklet): work by 34 Japan-based improvising musicians, musicians documented on the Improvised Music From Japan website (www.japanimprov.com). Some names: Michihiro Sato, Tamaru, Michiyo Yagi, Seiichi Yamamoto, Kazuhisa Uchihashi, Aki Onda, Kazuo Imai, Incapacitants, Toshimaru Nakamura, Taku Sugimoto, Otomo Yoshihide, Utah Kawasaki, Sachiko M, Yoshimitsu Ichiraku, Hoahio, Happiness Proof, Haco, Ground Zero, Marginal Consort, Junji Hirose, Shoji Hano. There's many more besides. A few Westerners who live/work in Japan, like Brett Larner and Annette Krebs are also included, often in collaboration with Japanese musicians. These folks do everything from improvising on tradtional instruments (Michihiro Sato's shamisen, Michiyo Yagi's koto) to full on electronic noise (Incapacitants) to avant-pop (Hoahio) to jazz to minimalist experimentation (Yoshimitsu Ichiraku's "Cymbal Orchestra"). Some tracks are long enough to be full releases in and of themselves. We could provide further description, but figure that either those names mean something to you or they don't, and if they don't, you probably aren't curious enough to blow $160 for a crash course in the world of underground Japanese jazz/electronic improv music (or are you?). And if you have this box in your future, you probably know it already. We'll just say, it really is pretty nice package, worth the investment of time and money if you already have and enjoy more than a few discs by any of the artists documented. Three of us here at AQ bought copies! But, be warned, we only have TWO of these...no wait, ack, damn, someone just bought one. We now have ONE copy! And we won't be getting any more (it's limited to 500, and these are are last we were able to get). So, the customer who stops by or gets their order in first will be in luck.
V/A Improvised Music From Japan Extra 2006 Special Issue Berlin (IMJ) magazine + 2cd 28.00
Before you go get goin' too excited about this new issue of IMFJ, we gotta tell you a couple things. First the good news, yes this does come with not one but two full cds crammed with cutting edge music for you to check out. Lots of cool avant-garde experimentation. But, none of it's by Japanese artists. This is the "Special Issue: Berlin" and so it focusses on that European scene, including folks like Axel Dorner, Christof Kurzmann, Annette Krebs, Phillip Sollmann, F.S. Blumm, Tony Buck, Jason Forrest, Joe Williamson, Andrea Neumann, and many others (Germans, Italians, Americans, etc... just no Japanese!). Japanophiles thereby be warned. People who like minimal electronics and out-there improvised music in general though should still be quite interested! But (another but), also a bit frustrated, unless fluent in Japanese. Because unlike previous issues of IMFJ, this one has no English text -- the interviews, articles and reviews are all in Japanese. Kind of a bummer for us, eh? But, you still get the two discs of music, and some pictures and stuff to look at, so it might still be worth it if you're interested in hearing what these cats are up to in Berlin.
V/A Infernal Proteus: A Musical Herbal (Ajna) 4cd + book 41.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. A massive 4 cd collection packaged beautifully in an oversized hardcover book from Stephen O'Malley's (Sunn, Burning Witch, etc...) Anja label. Featuring a who's who of underground expreimental ambient noise-icians, each doing a song about a different flower. Features: Circle, Amber Asylum, Alio Die, Ultra, Jonathan Coleclough, Troum, Steve Roden, Kawabata Makoto, Inade, Mnortham, Aube, Chaos As Shelter, Lotus Eaters and tons more. Absolutely gorgeous, looking and sounding. And of course quite limited.
V/A Japan: New Psychedelic Underground (Bob's Airport) cd 17.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Heavy duty psych-jam bands Mainliner and Musica Transonic, Ruins drummer Yoshida solo, and the trancier sounds of Ohkami No Yikan and Toho Sara, all recorded live over two days for this European tour-inspired import disc. Every band pretty much features the same members (Nanjo of High Rise fame on bass, Yoshida on drums), and this is essential for any fan of the PSF "rock" sound. Amazing, killer, wow.
V/A Japanese Avant-Garde: Agitation / Stillness - Noise / Silence (Sub Rosa) cd 16.98
V/A Japanese New Music Festival 2008 (Magaibutsu) cd 13.98
Just found we have five (5) copies of this Acid Mothers Temple related compilation, that we'd never listed on our site before. AMT members (and pillars of the Japanese psych/prog underground) Atsushi Tsuyama, Tatsuya Yoshida, and Kawabata Makoto show off their chops n' weirdness here, each one solo and also together in various combinations. There's 7 audio tracks here, recorded live, and also 7 more mp4 video clips you can watch on your computer (and which reveal how much these guys revel in their silliness). The cd starts off with some kind of broken-down freak-folk twang and psych shred from Atsushi Tsuyama, who sings a bit like Tom Waits transformed into a cartoon bear. Next, Kawabata Makoto contributes eight minutes of FX-laden outer space drone bliss. Chaos erupts with Yoshida's Ruins Alone track, a battle between his drum kit and video game zips and zaps it seems. Then, all three of these fellows sing in the comedic a cappella combo Zubi Zuva X, a crazed chorus that elicits much laughter from the audience - or perhaps that's part of their performance. Akaten (Atsushi + Yoshida) offer up what sounds like someone eating a meal, which turns into an improv session, and then devolves into echoed insanity... The track by Zoffy (Kawabata + Atsushi) is the most "rock" thing on here, so far, though of course also quite nutty. And then all three gentlemen, in the form of Acid Mothers SWR, wrap thing up with a display of their tight, mathy prog. Limited to 300 copies produced for a 2008 European tour. Apparently we've had 'em hidden away here since then! Better late than never to list these, grab 'em while you can, AMT fans...
ATSUSHI TSUYAMA "untitled" MPEG Stream:
KAWABATA MAKOTO "untitled" MPEG Stream:
ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE SWR "untitled"
V/A Ju-Jikan: Ten Hours Of Sound From Japan (23five) 2cd 21.00
Last year, local educational sound-arts organization 23five and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art co-presented a ten hour listening event/installation documenting the past 50 years of Japanese experimental music entitled "Ju-Jikan" (which translates as '10 hours' in Japanese). Curators Atau Tanaka, Ryoji Ikeda, and Shunichiro Okada described it not as a comprehensive taxonomy of Japanese experimentation, but simply sought "to trace the complex web of sonic style that constitutes the current Japenese musical landscape." Tanaka, who wrote the liner notes for the program, further explained that the curatorial choices were also guided by how the West perceives Japan and how Japan considers its own representation towards the West. This double cd compiles elements selected from that ten hour listening event at SFMOMA (the full ten hours would have required mp3 encoding and much in the way of complicated licensing arrangements!), focusing upon the more contemporary elements of experimental Japanese music. These sounds draw their connections through the recombinant power of electronic synthesis and the juxtaposition of disparate styles; which together have become a standard if elusively-defined musical vocabulary for Japanese music. "Ju-Jikan" features physically challenging noise from Merzbow, Masonna, Hanatarash (Eye from the Boredoms), Pain Jerk, and Tetsuo Furudate; 'anti-academic' reactionary modes of Yasunao Tone and Yuji Takahashi; purist minimalism of tonal austerity from Ryoji Ikeda, Otomo Yoshihide, and Nerve Net Noise; and delicate electrodrone work from Kazuo Uehara, Tamami Tono, and Kozo Inada. A really important collection indeed. We're told some tracks are previously released, some not, but it's hard to tell which -- chances are you'd have to be a really geeked-out collector to have many of these already, and even in that case you'd still want this for the rest. The cd booklet gives Tanaka's detailed notes on all styles covered, a graphic timeline of Japanese experimental sound genres, and a program for the full ten-hour event so you can see what you missed.
YASUNAO TONE "Trio For A Flute Player" RealAudio clip:
KOZO INADA "d" RealAudio clip:
OTOMO YOSHIHIDE "Composition For Two Guitars" RealAudio clip:
HANATARASH "77up" RealAudio clip:
TETSUO FURUDATE "Der Geist"
V/A Land of the Rising Noise, Vol. 2 (Charnel Music) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Charnel's newest, adventureous compilation of underground Japanese sounds, some names perhaps familiar, some not. Noise, punk, psychedelia and beyond are represented here, some names: Melt-Banana, Shizuka, Amgsphont, Der Eisenrost, Wnico, Contagious Orgasm... Definitely worth checking out.
V/A Let's A Go-Go! - Singapore And Southeast Asian Pop Scene 1964-69 (Silver Tortoise) cd 9.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Yet another fantastic collection of Southeast Asian pop, funky and fuzzy, jangly and garagey, poppy and psychedelic. Let's A Go-Go definitely sounds like it could have ended up on Sublime Frequencies, but in spirit seems to fall closer to one of our favorite comps ever, Teen Dance Music From China And Malaysia, the focus here less cultural and anthropological, and more fun fun fun. There are several tracks from Dara Puspita, whose entire collected work was recently reissued on Sublime Frequencies, and which should give you a good idea of the sort of fuzzy garage pop you can expect here, but besides DP, there's not a single band here we've heard of, but they're all fantastic, Rita Chao, The Bes, Patrina, Hai Fei, The Dee-Tee's, The Crescendos, The Blue Beats, Rocky Teoh, Charlie And His Go-Go Boys, Lotus Liew, Orkes Tropicano... And of course there are a handful of covers, in keeping with Southeast Asia's obsession with Western pop music, the perfect examples being both Patrina's "One To Nine Walkin", and Charlie And His Go-Go Boys' "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'", the first a cool reinterpretation of Nancy Sinatra's "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'", almost identical to the original, in arrangement at least, even with the change in title, the vocals a bit more playful and girlish, and there's the addition of a cool almost Christmasy sounding chiming guitar breakdown between every verse! And the second a wild sexy sixties instrumental version, with the vocals replaced by horns, a go-go jam true to the band's name for sure. The whole record is like some super exotic sixties dance party, flutes flutter, drums shuffle, organs hum and wheeze, melodies twist and tangle, the sound definitely Asian, but also Western, from fuzzed out garage rockers, to cool garage-ified Asian folk, most of the vocalists are female, but the handful of males representing are pretty spectacular, the Dee-Tee's "Just Because" is a haunting minor key ballad, the Quests' "The Dancer" is total Beatles-esque jangle (definitely cobbled together from a handful of parts from various Beatles songs), there's a groovy version of "Wooly Bully", there's some sixties space aged garage a la the Telstars and so much more. Totally wild and fun, and fuzzy and funky and so varied, a fantastic comp that will definitely appeal to Sublime Frequencies obsessives, Southeast Asian pop nerds, and anyone who bought Teen Dance Music From China And Malaysia, loved it to death but wanted more more more!
RITA CHAO "Lonely Heart" MPEG Stream:
DARA PUSPITA "A Go-Go" MPEG Stream:
THE BEES "Flamingo" MPEG Stream:
PATRINA "One To Nine Walkin" MPEG Stream:
HAI FEI "The Second Spring" MPEG Stream:
THE DEE-TEE'S "Just Because"
V/A Love, Peace & Poetry: Japanese Psychedelic Music (Shadoks Music) cd 15.98
Following the excellent Latin American psych and Asian psych collections in the Love, Peace & Poetry series (and the not as hot American one) comes two new comps, one devoted to British bands and this one, dedicated to the wild and crazy sounds of psychedelic-era Japan. (Next in the series, we're told, will be Brazil and Canada.) There's some '60s fuzz-beat stuff on here from "Group Sounds" acts like The Happenings Four, Justin Heathcliff, The Jacks and The Mops, plus quite an abundance of early '70s era heavy guitar rock from killer groups like Blues Creation, Speed Glue & Shinki, and Foodbrain. That's partially because the Japanese psych-scene was really acid-rock oriented, and also 'cause the stuff that wasn't, was generally too spacious and abstract to fit comfortably on a single compilation disc. Thus, there's no Taj Mahal Travellers, no Far Out, and no Far East Family Band. The songs on here are more in the 3-4 minute range, there's no room for the side-long album cuts in which some of those bands specialized. Which is too bad, 'cause as cool as this comp is, it's not the complete picture. There's not even any Flower Travellin' Band, one of our favorite hard-rocking '70s Japanese psych groups. Despite those omissions, however, this is still a recommended compilation, especially if you dig the Hendrix-inspired, drugged-out mayhem that many of these bands dish out. Of course you do! Especially if you're a fan of current underground Japanese music. You know that Japan is one of the few places in the world with a truly happenin' modern-day psychedelic rock scene -- we're talking active bands like Acid Mothers Temple, Fushitsusha, Mainliner, High Rise, Ghost, and (especially nowadays) the Boredoms. Yup, in Japan, psychedelia is still live and well. Any fan of those bands certainly should delve into their historical inspirations from their native land, and this comp is a great starting place for such exploration! 17 tracks, all from super-rare LPs, many not readily available as cd reissues as yet. As with the rest of the Love, Peace & Poetry series, it should be noted that all the cheesecake blonde girl photos decorating the cd package were taken by Bunny Yeager, the awesome woman photographer most famous for her work with Betty Page. That doesn't mean that they're terribly appropriate images to this comp, but still, Bunny Yeager, yeah.
SHINKI CHEN "Freedom Of A Mad Paper Lantern" RealAudio clip:
SPEED, GLUE & SHINKI "Run and Hide" RealAudio clip:
JACKS "Gloomy Flower"
V/A Love, Peace & Poetry: Japanese Psychedelic Music (Shadoks Music) lp 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Following the excellent Latin American psych and Asian psych collections in the Love, Peace & Poetry series (and the not as hot American one) comes two new comps, one devoted to British bands and this one, dedicated to the wild and crazy sounds of psychedelic-era Japan. (Next in the series, we're told, will be Brazil and Canada.) There's some '60s fuzz-beat stuff on here from "Group Sounds" acts like The Happenings Four, Justin Heathcliff, The Jacks and The Mops, plus quite an abundance of early '70s era heavy guitar rock from killer groups like Blues Creation, Speed Glue & Shinki, and Foodbrain. That's partially because the Japanese psych-scene was really acid-rock oriented, and also 'cause the stuff that wasn't, was generally too spacious and abstract to fit comfortably on a single compilation disc. Thus, there's no Taj Mahal Travellers, no Far Out, and no Far East Family Band. The songs on here are more in the 3-4 minute range, there's no room for the side-long album cuts in which some of those bands specialized. Which is too bad, 'cause as cool as this comp is, it's not the complete picture. There's not even any Flower Travellin' Band, one of our favorite hard-rocking '70s Japanese psych groups. Despite those omissions, however, this is still a recommended compilation, especially if you dig the Hendrix-inspired, drugged-out mayhem that many of these bands dish out. Of course you do! Especially if you're a fan of current underground Japanese music. You know that Japan is one of the few places in the world with a truly happenin' modern-day psychedelic rock scene -- we're talking active bands like Acid Mothers Temple, Fushitsusha, Mainliner, High Rise, Ghost, and (especially nowadays) the Boredoms. Yup, in Japan, psychedelia is still live and well. Any fan of those bands certainly should delve into their historical inspirations from their native land, and this comp is a great starting place for such exploration! 17 tracks, all from super-rare LPs, many not readily available as cd reissues as yet. As with the rest of the Love, Peace & Poetry series, it should be noted that all the cheesecake blonde girl photos decorating the cd package were taken by Bunny Yeager, the awesome woman photographer most famous for her work with Betty Page. That doesn't mean that they're terribly appropriate images to this comp, but still, Bunny Yeager, yeah.
V/A Mottomo Otomo (Trost) cd 17.98
The Music Unlimited festival is a 3-day Austrian event focusing on all aspects of modern experimental music, from jazz to rock to classical. Since 1991, the festival's performers have been selected by different artists. In the past, Fred Frith, Zeena Parkins and Jon Rose have organised the festival. In 1999, Otomo Yoshihde (of Ground Zero) was the events programmer and he selected a remarkable selection of modern experimental music: Radian, the Incapacitants, Kaffe Matthews, Martin Tetreault, Novo Tono, Keith Rowe, Sugimoto Taku, Poire-Z, Hoahio and of course Otomo himself.
OTOMO YOSHIHIDE "" RealAudio clip:
RADIAN "" RealAudio clip:
V/A Musique Non Stop: A Tribute To Kraftwerk (EMI, Japan) cd 26.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Japanese artists cover their favorite Kraftwerk tunes. Participants include Melt Banana, Zeni Geva, Buffalo Daughter and a bunch of others we're not familiar with, but who seem to be part of the Japanese avant-pop electronica scene. The whole thing is great, absolutely recommended.
V/A Neu Konservativ (God Mountain/DSA) cd 16.98
Tokyo-based label God Mountain put out this compilation a year or two back, and now it's the first release on the more reasonably-priced "God Mountain Europe" imprint. Intense, insane instrumental prowess, strange prog/jazz concepts, beyond "out" rock dementia. A great intro to the God Mountain scene, which takes all that downtown NYC stuff and, like, cubes it. Also available on GMEurope, Ground Zero's self-titled (like a less calculated Naked City, and both Zorn and Eye guest) and Optical*8's "Bug" (comparable only maybe to the first Praxis album) for the same reasonable price.
V/A Nihon No Shinungaku: Japanese New Music Festival ver.4 (Magaibutsu) cd 12.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Brain-melting musical chaos from Japan! Crazy voices, crashing instruments! According to the liner notes to this cd, "In 1997, 1999 and 2003, a set of performances aroused a storm of frenzy and shriek in Europe... and they will be back with even greater power. This time 3 musicians (Yoshida Tatsuya/Tsuyama Atsushi/Kawabata Makoto) form 7 units!! A capella, comic free form, progressive core, troubadour, cosmic psychedelic....... you'll be experiencing the essence of all kinds of extremes in the current new music scene in Japan on a single night. Never miss it." Or, you can experience those extremes on a single disc -- this one, that Yoshida released on his Magaibutsu label to promote the tour. These three fellows, members of such crucial underground Japanese bands as Ruins, Acid Mothers Temple, and Omoide Hatoba, perform here in various groupings: Akaten, Zubi Zuva X, Zoffy, Seikazoku, Acid Mothers Temple SWR, Ruins Alone, and Shrinp Wark. Some of those will already be familiar to followers of this creatively fertile and incestuous scene, but two are kinda new: Shrinp Wark (Yoshida and Kawabata's improvising tribute to This Heat) and the somewhat self-explanatory Ruins Alone (Yoshida solo, using his drum kit and a sampling bass to singlehandedly perform songs by Ruins as well as Koenjihyakkei and Korekyojinn! The Ruins Alone track here is an insane ADD medley that brings in the William Tell Overture among other things...). There's something here for all fans of everything from spaced-out psych to vocal acrobatics to noisy prog mayhem. AND, in addition to the seven audio tracks, this also includes seven live video clips viewable on your computer! Way cool. Packaged in a plastic sleeve, no jewel case.
RUINS ALONE "(no title given)" MPEG Stream:
SEIKAZOKU "(no title given)"
V/A No Noise Compilation (Even Stilte) cd 12.98
This international, experimental comp from the Japan-based Even Stilte label features a couple big AQ faves, Birchville Cat Motel and Reynols, among others. The comp's called No Noise, but that title is ironic or something. Somebody call the Better Business Bureau with a truth in advertising complaint. Yes Noise is more like it. And if you don't think the first track (by Japanese skreemongers Dustbreeders aided and abetted by vocalist Junko from Hijokaidan) is noisy enough, first of all you're either deaf or crazy, and second of all, ok see what you think of track two, from Japan's even noisier Guilty Connector. We literally had to leap to the stereo to turn it down. It's noise all right, of the universe collapsing all around you in a howling tumble of feedback and fuzzed out, fucked up distortion variety. Damn. Halfway through, though, this track takes a turn into much less loud realm of insectoid buzz and freeform clatter, which actually is more the sort of "noise" that this comp itself is mostly about. Instead of the full-on, speaker-shredding, ear-shrivelling noise, of the first track and a half, this delves into some smaller noises as well. And also even some shambolic, avant-rock ritual strangeness from Argentina's wonderful Reynols. But mostly abstract, soundscapey drone stuff for the most part. Such as, the aforementioned BCM turns in a track that seemingly tunes in the zings of long thin wires. Electric zapping and humming and hissing. We were also interested to hear from the artists that we weren't so familiar with, like Sky Burial, whose track is a moody drift, rising and falling in rumbling, soothing swells. Someone or something named Phrog provides even more minimal, "microscopic" sounds, vaguely field-recording-ish, as is Dave Phillips' lengthily-titled yet barely-there "From Wars Over Control and Oil to Environmental and Mental Destruction and Renewable Sources and Minds (at a Loss for Words)". Kyoshi Mizutani's "Yamaokmai Tunnel" is another one probably constructed from environmental sources. And Acid Mothers Temple member Tabata, if he used field recordings, they must have been loops of someone shooting down aliens in an anonymous videogame, processed into something much calmer. Somewhat more active is the track by Rudolf Eb.er (of Runzelstirn & Gurglestock infamy), a chopped-up soundscape, that settles into an uneasy, clomping rhythm. (Eb.er also provided the "Body World" styled cover painting for this cd.) So, while far from "No Noise" this comp is a good way to get to -know- some noise, in all its extremes, from around the world. All the tracks here are apparently exclusive, except possibly the GC one. So we were told by the Even Stilte label boss, from whom we picked up just handful of these comps, when he stopped by the store whilst passing through SF recently.
BIRCHVILLE CAT MOTEL "Noise Is Everpresent" MPEG Stream:
SKY BURIAL "Awakening From Someone Else's Dream" MPEG Stream:
GUILTY CONNECTOR "Heremsaurus at Ant-Anna"
V/A Nova Feedback (God Mountain) cd 19.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. Possibly the most non-sensical compilation ever, this Japanese import features tracks from Costes (French vulgar vaudeville), Gastr del Sol, several Japanese hardcore/funk/metal units (including Gaji, who sound very similar to Melt-Banana), and improv music by Ikue Mori and others. Truly a bizarre item.
V/A Off Site (A Bruit Secret) 2cd 23.00
Last year, AQ-fave Japanese guitar experimentalist Taku Sugimoto put together a series of "Composed Music" concerts at a Tokyo venue called Off Site, featuring pieces written and performed by a who's who of the current Japanese underground jazz/noise/experimental/electronic scene. This disc collects some live recordings from those shows. Disc one opens with Otomo Yoshihide's sixteen-piece "Portable Orchestra". It's the "home electronics equipment version" and that means the musicians, among them Taku Sugimoto, Sachiko M, Utah Kawasaki, Masahiro Uemura, Tetuzi Akiyama, and Otomo himself, are improvising with "instruments" like food mixers, electric drills, shavers, cel phones, gameboys, cameras! Avant-improv music for a [insert dept. store name]. Intriguing as presented here (unless you just can't stand that dentist drill sound!), but probably even better in person, watching these folks fool around with these gadgets and tools. Moving on, the next three tracks are for a more traditional ensemble: an acoustic guitar trio, albeit one with so few notes being played (or even sounds being made) that the involvement of more than one guitarist seems almost superfluous. The rest of the disc, with pieces by Toshimaru Nakamura and Taku Sugimoto for solo saxophone and turntable/sinewaves, respectively, also feature quite a lot of silence, a hallmark of the oh-so-quiet and abstract "onkyo" style attributed to these musicians. The subtle drones and delicate (and not-so-delicate) noises of that final 30-minute turntable/sinewave track should be found to be especially beautiful and interesting by listeners with patience and the right mindset. Disc two starts with Annette Krebs, Sachiko M, and Taku Sugimoto performing a piece for paper and contact mic, ripping and tearing. Other pieces involve radios, accordions, electric and acoustic guitars -- all very abstract and sparse, sometimes self-evidently pretty, mostly just mystifying. The idea here seems to be for there to be some odd juxtapostions of composer/performer/instrument -- there's even a track wherein Otomo Yoshihide plays a Sachiko M compostion on an acoustic guitar! (We'll assume, if you've read this far, you're familiar enough with these musicians to think that a bit unusual.)
YOSHIHIDE OTOMO'S PORTABLE ORCHESTRA "Portable Orchestra"
V/A Ongaku 70: Vintage Psychedelia In Japan (Hiruko) lp 25.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. French import, a vinyl-only comp of some excellent Japanese psych stuff from the Seventies!! We weren't able to get very many, it's now out of print, and we've got like 3 copies left, first come first served! 13 tracks, circa 1969-1978, including cuts by Les Rallizes Denudes, JA Caesar, Kuni Kawachi & His Group, The Apryl Fool, Sadistic Mika Band, Stomu Yamash'ta's Red Buddha Theatre, Akiko Yano, Toshiaki Tsushima, Harry Hosono & The Yellow Magic Band, Osamu Kitajima, Karuna Khyal, and more... Some we'd heard before (the ones that have seen full album reissues in recent years) but others we'd never even heard OF, and are utterly new finds for us. There's a very "Japanese" vibe indeed to these particular psych acts, and an arty one too. Cool! There's a sequel too, Ongaku 80: Alternative Waves From Japan, that we sold out of already, but that one we're told we might see more of again in a few weeks...
V/A Ongaku 90 (Hiruko) lp 25.00
This is the third in a series of super limited lps, each offering a fantastic, albeit brief overview of the Japanese underground music scene, separated by decade. Starting with the seventies, which featured Les Rallizes Denudes, JA Caesar, Kuni Kawachi & His Group, The Apryl Fool, Sadistic Mika Band, Stomu Yamash'ta's Red Buddha Theatre, Akiko Yano, Toshiaki Tsushima, Harry Hosono & The Yellow Magic Band, Osamu Kitajima, Karuna Khyal and a bunch more. Then there was the eighties volume, which included Phew, Riuchi Sakamoto, Tako, Daisuck & Prostitute, Gunjogacrayon, Lizard and load of groups we had never heard of. And now we arrive at the nineties, and this time around, a lot of the groups are familiar, Phew and Riuchi Sakamoto make return appearances, which makes sense, as they were both just as active in the nineties as the eighties, there's also Ghost, Fushitsusha, The Gegogerigegege, E*Trance, Demi Semi Quaver, Takako Minekawa, Idiot O'Clock and Jun Miyake. Weirdly enough, a lot of these tracks almost sound more eighties than the actual eighties installment did! Jun Miyake starts things off with cool tribal drumming, chant like vocals, programed electronics, sounding a bit like a Japanese Muslimgauze, albeit with a Native American techno vibe (!). Phew do their warped funky weirdness, mewled vox, jazzy horns, layered drones and lots of space-y FX. Sakamoto does his thing as well, sounding a bit like traditional Japanese music modernized and electrified, a little bit electro, a distinctly new wave vibe with some woozy crooned vocals. Japanoise weirdos Gergogerigegege (that translates as 'vomit, diarrhea, ha, ha, ha') offer up an all acapella track, spoken female vocals, accompanied by the moans and groans of the band's masturbator (they do indeed have a band member who wears a diaper and jacks off!), as he does his thing! The Ghost track is a gorgeous chunk of hazy, chanted, free-form psychedelic murk, ritualistic and haunting, while Idiot O'Clock finish off the A side with some full on new wave, which as mentioned above, sound way more '80s than '90s. Japanese heavy psychlords Fushitsusha start off the B side with a surprisingly hushed and restrained slow jam, super spare drumming, barely there guitar strum, brief flurries of gnarled fretboard scrabble, all as a softly psychedelic backdrop for Keiji Haino's anguished wail. E*Trance are up next, whose track is a glorious chunk of loping weirdo psych rock, full of atonal melodies, twisted choruses of laughing voices, weird sporadic percussion, swooping heavily effected guitars, and what sounds like some traditional Japanese instruments, not to mention some seriously rad fuzzed out psych/shred leads. Takako Minekawa delivers a short blast of squelchy minimal synthy new wave, a little Kraftwerky, and another track that doesn't necessarily sound distinctly nineties. And finally, Demi Semi Quaver wrap it up with a lengthy, sprawling psychedelic jam of weirdo spaced out Japanese prog, female vox, abstract drumming, shuffling rhythms, wheezing accordions (?), lots of space, the instruments drifting in wide open expanses, sort of like the warped more progged out version of a Japanese jam band! All of these comps are super limited, they go out of print quickly, and even before then, we often have trouble restocking once we sell out, so grab one quick before they're gone.
V/A Oz Days Live 2cd 11.98
For a long time, this record was a Japanese psych holy grail, originally a super limited double lp, later a double cd, originally released to commemorate the closing of a club in Tokyo called Oz, where presumably all of these bands were recorded. The main reason this was such a sought after artifact is no doubt the presence of not one, but TWO all time Japanese psychedelic legends, Les Rallizes Denudes and Taj Mahal Travelers. In fact those of is who did manage to track down a copy, never even really listened to the first disc, since the second disc was so goddamn good. And odds are, most aQ Japanese psych obsessives stopped reading about two sentences ago and lunged for the 'add to cart' button. Cuz while this is/was quite a rarity, we just discovered a source for a bunch of copies, incredibly cheap too, and snapped 'em up, cuz we figured that there were enough folks out there like us, who would definitely be keen on more from either/both TMT and Les Rallizes. Juts in case you actually need to know what it sounds like (as if you couldn't guess), Les Rallizes offer up their usual dose of super distorted psychedelic blues, opening with a droned out guitar thing, before slipping into a surprisingly pretty and folky, and distortion free bit of strum and croon, might be a big surprise for Les Rallizes fans out there, in fact it almost sounds like a Japanese Grateful Dead, until about the last minute, when the guitars come out, offering up a surprisingly, sweetly distorted lead. The second track too, opens up with a wild squall of distorted guitar, only to slip right back into mesmerizing bit of dirgey folky drone rock, this time sounding more like the Velvets, with some seriously emotional wailed vox and more sweet psychedelic leads. And then finally, the appropriately titled "The Last One", find the band returning to much noisier distorted realms, thick wandering basslines, super distorted guitar crunch, pounding drums, an explosive intro, and while the rest of the song dials it back again, it's awesomely dirgey and droney, laced with lots of tangled guitars and swaths of distortion. Taj Mahal Travelers do what they do best, unfurling a long minimal dronescape, all sawed violin, distant chanted vocals, swirling muted melodies, wheezing harmonicas, all blurred into lush sonic swells, Kosugi's violin driving the sound here, but with all the other various instruments contributing their own more subtle elements, a hazy, drifty, tripped out bit of druggy psychedelic drift that is perfectly divine. Like we said before, worth it just for the second disc, but heck, there's a whole other disc, which we actually never dug into until NOW. Up first is Miyako Ochi, who are a sort of Group Sounds, Beatles worshiping rock band, all British style rhythm and blues, the songs could very well be covers, one sounds exactly like "Twist And Shout", then there's Minami Masato, who are a lot like Miyako Ochi, at least with their Beatles-esque opener, but after that, the sound shifts to a more contemplative folk music, again looking to the UK and the US for inspiration, subtle simple strummed acoustic guitar and woozy croon, again quite cool, but a strange mix to be paired up with Les Rallizes and TMT. But then there's Acid Seven, who we were already hoping would be a bit more bad ass based on the name alone, and while they are ANOTHER band that is doing that Group Sounds sound, they manage to inject it with some grit and swagger, shouted gang vocals, super distorted production, wild psychedelic leads, and a vocalist who has a pretty bad ass raspy bellow. The following track is a strange sort of jaunty sing along, with some rad slippery slide guitar and there's even a KAZOO SOLO! Finally, they finish things up with a bit of brooding dark folk, urgently strummed acoustic guitar, and some heartfelt almost anguished sounding vocalizing, surprisingly pretty, especially considering the wild biker rock bellowing that preceded it. All in all pretty great. Japanese psych obsessives NEED this, and heck for $12, dabblers can definitely afford to give it a chance. But don't dawdle, pretty sure we got every copy our distributor had, so not sure when/if we'll be able to get more. Packaged in a slim sleeve with brown paper wrapper, duplicating the presentation of the original lp.
TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS "Part 1" MPEG Stream:
LES RALLIZES DENUDES "Untitled" MPEG Stream:
ACID SEVEN "Part 4" MPEG Stream:
MIYAKO OCHI "Part 3" MPEG Stream:
MINAMI MASATO "Part 2"
V/A Painted Black (tUMULt) cd 11.98
The Painted Black project was begun forever ago, originally to be released on AQ staffer Jim's now defunct Petrol label, then bequeathed years later to Andee to release on his tUMULt label where the lineup and concept went through many changes (possibly because what was begun as an homage to a song Jim really liked, became a deconstruction of a song Andee really hates) and then an endless procession of waits, mastering, pressing, re-recording, battles with other labels over 'rights', as well as 4 different cover concepts that all had to be scrapped because they were seemingly too difficult for any printers to confidently take on. -sigh- So then it finally emerged... Was it worth the wait? Obviously we think so. Look at the lineup, a veritable who's who of AQ favorites: Acid Mothers Temple, Circle, Hrvatski, James Plotkin, Kit Clayton, Loren Chasse, Troum, the Tape-beatles, Mieskuoro Huutajaat, Fennesz, and Stilluppsteypa. And that's just the cream. Lots of tracks were left off, according to Andee in order to avoid the spotty/uneven flow of most compilation/tribute/cover records. He even opted to leave off the Melt Banana track, which was a tough, but important choice, since the spazzy grind of their track disrupted the droning meditative, hypnotic flow of what is now less just a compilation of random tracks, more an epic and gorgeous hour of dreamy droney creepy blackness. So what does it sound like? Well, while it does flow, and could perhaps pass itself off as a record by a single (quite eclectic) group, each track offers something unique, while still culling the sinister spirit and nihilistic 'rock' from the original (the inspiration for this comp). Finnish shouting choir Mieskuoro Huutajaat start things off with a brief, and shouted, acapaella version, in Finnish, and delivered with gusto! James Plotkin's Joy Of Disease turns it into a burbling, stuttering, electronic soundscape with hiccupping beats and backwards vocals. Somewhere between Boards Of Canada and Coil. Stilluppsteyppa took back their original track, a wash of glitchy yet melodic, musique concrete, and re-recorded/re-mixed it, removing most of the melody and adding even more space, resulting in a dark abyss of gorgeously perplexing minimalism. The Kit Clayton track is an ultra catchy, beat heavy SF glitch core workout, that obliterates the original melody but manages to keep the minor key tension and dark ambience. Ultra prolific Japanese space rockers Acid Mothers Temple turn the original into a wild pagan ritual, starting out with several minutes of Tsuyama's throaty chants, skipping nervously around that oh-so-familiar melody before the band stumbles in to join him for the remaining 10 minutes, with splattery percussion, freaked out reverb/retard guitar and squealing feedback. Hrvatski (aka Keith Whitman) claims that this Painted Black contribution is his favorite track that he's ever recorded and it's easy to see why: he actually sings, plays guitar, and weaves a thick wash of warm, langorous tones before it all crumbles beneath a speaker shredding cascade of sputtering drill and bass. Iowa's masters of plunderphonia, the Tape-Beatles use found sounds and actual(?) chunks of the original to create a tense and unnerving, noirish dreamscape, with disebodied screams, curious snippets of overheard conversations, and THAT meoldy sliced and diced, which all end up adding to the creepy vibe. German drone-sters Troum incorporate 'that' melody into a totally overpowering and molasses-thick drone, assembled from multiple tracks of guitar and accordion. The Fennesz track was previously released on an ep via Jim O'Rourke's Moikai label, and to us seems like Fennesz at his very best. Melodies and textures are spit out, stuttering and hiccupping from the cold, digital craw of the laptop, but somehow come out all warm and thick and coil around you like stuffed snakes and deliciously fragrant pipesmoke. Amazing. AQ faves Circle, do what they do best, taking the skeletal remains of the original, holding on to the barebones melody, and constructing a motorik, unwavering rhythm, that sounds like Tony Conrad and Faust's Outside The Dream Syndicate with just a little more melody and umph. And the record is finished off perfectly, spiralling slowly into 'black'ness, by AQ pal Loren Chasse (who as you probably already know is a pillar of the Jewelled Antler Collective, as well as a member of Thuja, the Blithe Suns, etc). He uses snippets of the original, slowed down hundreds and hundreds of times until it is a lugubrious almost-melody, and contact mic-ed strobe lights to create a static-y, humming, nighttime dronescape, like an otherworldy forest, complete with clattery insect buzz and moaning winds in the ancient trees. An almost perfect compilation and an amazing gathering of some of our favorite artists doing some of their best work. Essential.
JOY OF DISEASE "2" MPEG Stream:
TROUM "8" MPEG Stream:
L. CHASSE "11" MPEG Stream:
V/A PSF & Alchemy: 20th Anniversary Live (PSF) cd 21.00
Pretty much our two favorite Japanese record labels are PSF and Alchemy. Responsible for documenting so much of the Japanese psych/improv/noise underground, Osaka's venerable Alchemy Records and Tokyo's equally long-running and crucial PSF label, have at last joined forces to celebrate their 20th anniversaries together. Two concerts were held last year and this disc is the resultant commemorative souvenir. It's packed with varied and exciting performances, some of 'em one-off collaborations between veterans of each label, for instance PSF's avant-folkster Kan Mikami dueting with Alchemy boss and noise/psych guitar maestro Jojo Hiroshige, or PSF experimental improv guitarist Kazuo Imai playing alongside Alchemy noiseniks Incapacitants. You'll also find PSF mascot Keiji Haino dueling for almost 15 minutes with fellow PSF guitarist Munehiro Narita (of High Rise). There's also tracks from Marble Sheep, L & friends, Go Hirano & Takashi Ueno, Exias-J, and Masayoshi Urabe and Junko (of Hijokaidan). Lots of dark, fucked up sounds without bounds for fans of both labels...
KEIJI HAINO & MUNEHIRO NARITA "live" MPEG Stream:
L & FRIENDS "live"
V/A Shock City Shockers (Shock City/Polystar) cd 26.00
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. At first glance, you may mistake this CD for Beck's "Midnite Vultures". Look closely though and you'll notice that the artwork used by Beck was in fact created two years ago for this compilation on Shock City (a Polystar Japan subsidiary overseen by Boredoms mastermind Yamataka Eye)! Now this collection is finally been made available as an not-absolutely-impossible-to-find import release. Through the 23 tracks and 78 minutes of music, we're taken on a wild ride through the new Osaka underground as seen by Eye: sitars, babbling babies, snake charmers, Jews harps, no-wave electronics, hardcore, new psychedelia, and drums, lots o' drums! Standout selections include tracks by DJ Pika Pika Pika (tweaked-out, beat heavy, electronics-fuckery by Eye), Standing Earth & Touching Air (Yoshimi and Keigo "Cornelius" Oyamada making the most interesting use of Jews harp I've ever heard!), and DJ Tranquilizer (Otomo Yoshihide and Aoyama Yasutomo). Most tracks are both exclusive to this comp (save for the OOIOO and ROVO tracks) and definitely Boredoms related (many variations on the use of EYE in band names!). Great stuff! Beautifully designed, mind melting artwork (as always) by Eye, with sparkly printing, that kicks the ass of the later Beck cover...
V/A So-on Meikyu: Alchemy Mysterious Sound Collection (Alchemy) cd 21.00
And when Alchemy says it's a mysterious sound collection, it IS a mysterious sound collection! The ever-excellent Japanese noise/psych label has assembled a very interesting four-way split release here. Probably if we could read Japanese it would all be a little clearer, but from the Siamese twin motif of this cd's graphics, and the info on the artists featured, we'll conclude that this experimental, abstract sound compilation intentionally features only duos -- perhaps being duos formed soley for this comp (perhaps not...we don't know). We've never heard of any of these acts, though we have heard of several of the individuals participating in each duo. The disc starts off simply and beautifully with Mr. So-&-So's "Unknown", which features the two electric guitars of Seiichi Yamamoto (Boredoms, Omoide Hatoba) and Masahiko Ohno (Solmania) -- so when some more extreme sounds begin to filter in it's no surprise. Next up is A X A, the duo of Aya Ohnishi and Akifumi Nakajima (Aube). With kazoo, drums, voice, field recordings and synths they make a fascinating soundscape which we won't really try to describe since, well, it is mysterious. As are the other two contributions to this disc, from Swastika (between them, members of CCCC, Incapacitants, Tangerine Dream Syndicate, etc.) and kishidashin (dunno who these two are). All are well worth investigating, if you're into the more controlled and crafted side of "Japanese noise". Maybe that's not the term to use at all, one could just as easily call this psychedelic industrial improv or somesuch. In any event, another worthwhile Alchemy release.
A X A "Lift Lock" MPEG Stream:
V/A The Night Gallery 2: 21st Century Psychedelic Underground (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. And we've also got the second of Alchemy's Night Gallery underground Japanese psych comps too, from earlier this year. Six bands this time (68 minutes, 11 tracks in all). Two of 'em have names only given in Japanese that we can't translate. The four with English names provided are She Brings The Rainbow (nice Can reference there), Magura Mozart, Subari, and Coa. Some contribute just one long track each (like the aptly-titled "Psych-Out" from Magura Mozart) others a few shorter cuts. The disc starts with a few tracks from one of the Japanese-name only bands, kinda Ghost-ly, or like Nagisa Ni te, all gentle and drifting and melancholy with female vocals. Then She Brings The Rainbow makes their contributions, way more shiny and uptempo, more female vocals but poppier I guess. Good stuff. That's followed by a long piece from Subari, a band consisting of Eddie and Bill (both girls, despite their names) from Coa plus one Keizo Suhara on vocals and guitar. It's a spacey one, quite nice. Eddie and Bill just the two of them then step up with another long track, the noisy, droney, heavy, dense clangor that is Coa's "Mirror To Mirror". That's tough to follow but the band known as Magura Mozart manage to do so with an epic of their own, starting off with ritualistic piano, percussion, and bells that gives way to pulsing drumming and waves of distorted guitar, coming closest on this comp to the Les Rallizes Denudes territory that LSD-march and Up-tight explored on the first Night Gallery (and on their own albums too of course). The last band on this collection is another whose name we don't know, and stick out as being almost more 'no-wave' than psych, very quirky and poppy and ramshackle and punky. So, the six bands here are sometimes a weird mix, but the highlights are many, and both volumes of the Night Gallery prove (if you weren't already aware) that there's a lot of interesting "psych" bands doin' their thing in Japan right now besides good ol' Acid Mothers Temple! [After we first posted this review, our customer Alan Cummings was kind enough to provide us with the following additional info: "the two bands you don't have the names for on Night Gallery 2 are Eddie Marcon (the gentle and melancholy one -- again Eddie and Bill from Coa), and the no-wavey one is Oshiripenpenzu. The title of the Eddie Marcon track you have streamed is 'Ikuyonoshitaku'."]
(UNKNOWN) "(Japanese title)" MPEG Stream:
SHE BRINGS THE RAINBOW "(Japanese title)" MPEG Stream:
MAGURA MOZART "Psych-Out"
V/A The Night Gallery 3: 21st Century Psycho Out (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. Japanese underground psych fans rejoice... The Night Gallery, which is kinda the Osaka-based Alchemy label's answer to PSF's Tokyo Flashback series, is already up to volume three! This installment brings us ten tracks from six new bands (new to us anyway!). One of 'em, DNJ, is actually female psych duo The Doodles augmented by a bass player and ubiquitous Alchemy boss/Hijokaidan guitarist Jojo Hiroshige (and their track "Moon Child" is a loud Doodles-like dirge of blurred beauty). But the others we have no prior clues about at all. There's two tracks from all-girl trio Sarumatake Mitsuku (woozy meandering space-psych that heavies up nicely a la Shizuka), two tracks of stoned folk from guitarist/vocalist Suzuki Junzo, a single cut of twang-and-drone from improv folkster Kei, one very mellow and melodic track by the trio Inisie, and then three Shaggsy songs from the two girls of Yoze. Simple blissful pleasures abound here. Those only into the darker side of the Japanese psych scene might not find everything here to be the best soundtrack for wearing sunglasses and all-black clothing (though there IS a fair amount of the dark, spacey stuff on here), but if you sometimes like an element of innocence and gentle pop in your psych (a la Maher Shalal Hash Baz, Nagisa Ni Te, and the like) then you'll be happy to make the acquaintance of several of these artists. Very very nice.
SARUMATKE MITSUKO "track 1" MPEG Stream:
DNJ "Moon Child" MPEG Stream:
KEI "Uysneh" MPEG Stream:
YOZE "track 9"
V/A The Night Gallery: 21st Century Psychedelic Underground (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. Released last year, this first "Night Gallery" comp from Alchemy basically picks up where the PSF label left off with their classic Tokyo Flashback series (though I think these bands quite possibly from Osaka, where Alchemy is based, not Tokyo). But the "modern Japanese psychedelia" concept is the same. Freaked-out, heavy, spacey, drifting, dark, drugged...differing doses of each of those descriptors apply to each of the five bands found here, which include some names now much better known to us today than when this disc first came out. The line-up: LSD-march, Up-Tight, Miminokoto, Doodles and Chouzu. The first three of those have all had domestic US cd releases in recent months, and on this very list you'll also find both a great new disc featuring Doodles (a female duo) collaborating with Hijokaidan guitarist (and Alchemy label boss) Jojo Hiroshige and an awesome new Up-Tight full-length on Alchemy. So from lighter fare (the blissful Chouzu, for instance) to the heavier stuff (the disc ends with a punishing 13 minutes from Up-Tight) this ought to please most folks from most points on the psych geek/Japanophile spectrum. 66 minutes, 11 tracks total.
LSD-MARCH "track 1" MPEG Stream:
DOODLES "track 5" MPEG Stream:
CHOUZU "track 9"
V/A The Way Out Sound: Back Catalog of Singles (The Way Out Sound) cd 13.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY. This is an awesome collection of early and way out of print 7"s from San Diego's The Way Out Sound label. A glance at the artists is all it will take to convince you how essential this really is. All exclusive tracks from: Merzbow, Muslimgauze, Skullflower, Truman's Water, Pure, The Silver Wizard, and Holland Skin Tunnel. Essential.
V/A Tokyo Flashback 1 (PSF) cd 16.98
THIS IS CURRENTLY OUT OF PRINT OR OTHERWISE UNAVAILABLE TO US AT THE MOMENT, SO PLEASE DO NOT ORDER IT. SORRY.
V/A Tokyo Flashback 2 (PSF) cd 17.98
V/A Tokyo Flashback 3 (PSF) cd 17.98
V/A Tokyo Flashback 4 (PSF) cd 22.00
Keiji Haino, Musica Transonic, Shizuka, High Rise, Hikyo String Quartet, etc.
V/A Tokyo Flashback 5 (PSF) cd 22.00
Wow...not only is is ABOUT TIME we got another installment in this series of Japanese underground psych music (vol. 4 came out, like, five years ago!) but it's also perfect timing what with all the current excitement going 'round about bands from that scene, from newer ones like LSD-march, Doodles, and Up-Tight to long-time favorites Ghost and Acid Mothers Temple. And on top of all that (and most importantly), this new "PSF Psychedelic Sampler" is KILLER. Good stuff start to finish. You get previously unreleased tracks from these Toyko flashbackers: Aural Fit (a very heavy, doomy, dirgey track that fans of Boris and Earth will dig, cacophonic and dense), White Heaven (downer-rock Quicksilver psych from these stalwarts, featuring current Ghost guitarist Michio Kurihara -- it doesn't say when this live version of their gentle "Mandrax Town" was was recorded, did they get back together?), Kyoaku No Intention (a brief and noisy live "blues" from High Rise guitarist Munehiro Narita and free jazz drummer Shoji Hano), Kabe Mimi (mysterious hiss, whoosh, drone, very nice), Suishio No Fune (bleak folk duo, very lovely, eventually overcome by space-out distortion), D.J Keiji Haino (YES!!! that IS what it says -- more on this one below), Hisato Higuchi (placid and beautiful voice/guitar with electronic stutter), Tsuru No Ko (duo doing the Rallize-worship thing, a la Fushitsusha, Up-Tight or LSD-march, taking that role over from Haino here 'cause he's busy DJing we guess), Overhang Party (the sometimes heavy psychsters being very gentle and pretty here), and Marble Sheep (a good one from another long-running psych outfit, rocking out to wrap things up). There's quite a few names new to us that we'll have to investigate further (gotta find the rumored Aural Fit album for you Boris freaks, wethink!) alongside old faves reminding us why they're faves. Which brings us back to that D.J Keiji Haino track...we'd been waiting for this! We'd heard that Haino, not content with just guitar and voice and wave-drum and hurdy-gurdy and drumming and whatever other instruments through which he's channelled his demons in the past, had added vinyl and turntables to his repertoire, and from the sound of this epic, 11+ minute, live-mixed, multi-mood sound collage lives up to our imaginings of what that would sound like! He's seemingly playing his own records (or is that him doing live percussion accompaniment??) and a variety of interesting ethnic vocal and 20th century classical albums, near as we can tell. Sure would love to have had a look through his DJ crate. There's no wicky-wicky-wap scratching or quick cuts, just endless layering and mixing... so good. Enough fannish froth tho. Even if Haino on the wheels of steel doesn't excite you like it excites some of us here, this comp still comes quite recommended. Maybe it took those great Night Gallery comps from Osaka's Alchemy Records to get PSF to answer back for the Tokyo scene, but in any event, fans of the Japanese psych/folk/free thing have a lot to be happy about here.
AURAL FIT "Behind 20, Beyond 20k" MPEG Stream:
SUISHO NO FUNE "Black Phantom" MPEG Stream:
D.J KEIJI HAINO "(Japanese title)" MPEG Stream:
HISATO HIGUCHI "Cluster Of Lights"
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 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.