Kawabata Makoto, Suzuki Junzo

•May 31, 2013 • Leave a Comment

A couple of key members of Japan’s psychedelic underground here; one old release, one new release.


The new one is from Kawabata Makoto, who presumably needs no introduction here given his years of output with Acid Mother’s Temple, Mainliner, and so many others. Shade of Burning Snow is a soundtrack, improvised over Audrey Ginestet’s film “Spring Yes Yes Yes”. Solo electric guitar, this sees Kawabata in full-on drone mode, 38 minutes of buzzing, murmuring, and occasionally getting nearly electronic with the effects. There are a couple of moments that sound like robotic insects, and occasionally it gets rough and a bit noisy (the last minute will shake you out of any daze you may have fallen into!), but for the most part this is dreamy background sound. Released by Chaotic Noise Recordings in Kochi, where it was recorded in 2012.


The older release is Ode to a Blue Ghost, from Tokyo’s Suzuki Junzo. His is certainly a less-recognized name compared to Kawabata, but he’s responsible for years of solo and other releases, primarily solo guitar work like this one. He’s semi-recently taken on the guitar and vocal duties in Koji Shimura’s Miminokoto project (which all readers of this blog have a duty to be familiar with). This CD was originally released on Junzo’s own Plunk’s Plan label, then reissued by the always-interesting Utech label. Four long tracks (the title is 20 minutes!), the aptly-named ghostly guitar work chimes delicately in a gentle reverb, recalling Loren Mazzacane Conners in his quieter moments. However, don’t relax too much: at a moment’s notice the music bursts apart into chaotic scrapes and disturbed scratchings, delayed and reverbed into uncomfortable atmospheres as layers of distortion build upon each other. And that’s all just the title track. There’s quite a variety here, showing quite well the range of Junzo’s playing.



A couple from Fujikake Masataka / Full Design Records

•May 28, 2013 • Leave a Comment

I thought maybe I’d try to write up some items while thinking of them, despite not having had time to devote to this blog in quite a while. I’ve been listening through some things, including a couple of cool releases from Full Design Records, run by drummer Fujikake Masataka. These were released in 2008.

ImageThe first is Yowamushi, a fantastic trio recording by Fujikake, bassist Hayakawa Takeharu, and guitarist Yamamoto Seiichi — the latter of whom should be quite familiar to readers of this blog as the former guitarist from the Boredoms, Omoide Hatoba, and more, and current guitarist with Rovo and many, many others. While the rhythm section is great here, I have to admit that my main enjoyment came from hearing Yamamoto in free-form guitar mode. This ends up feeling a bit similar to the best instrumental Zappa work, with some truly brilliant guitar zipping and zapping all over the place. Just great stuff.


On the other side of great guitar we find a duo between Fujikake on drums, and the infamous Haino Keiji on guitar, vocals, kantele, and shawm. The long album veers from barn-burning guitar heaviness to atmospheric vocalizations and wind instrumentation, with some oddly synthetic, pitch-shifted and mechanical guitar textures appearing here and there as well. Recorded in 2005, this has aspects of Fushitsusha to it, no question, but doesn’t approach that level of gripping tension, perhaps. It’s a different beast, with various faces to it.

Visit the Full Design web site for more info on these and other releases.

Green Flames – new band

•July 29, 2010 • Leave a Comment

A pretty exciting new band has sprung up in Tokyo: Green Flames, featuring the great Narita Munehiro from High Rise (guitar & vocals), with the equally infamous Tabata Mitsuru on bass (of Zeni Geva, Acid Mothers Temple, Leningrad Blues Machine, and so many more), and the less-recognized Ujiie Yuro on drums. Anything with these guys is worth a listen, obviously, and it’s great to always hear Narita going batshit crazy on guitar. Check out a video clip of a recent show:

Podcast by Takeo Udagawa

•July 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Thanks to Alan Cummings for pointing to this one:


Some great early stuff from folks like J.A. Caesar, Morita Doji, Tomokawa Kazuki, Kan Mikami, etc. Enjoy!

Afrirampo finis

•June 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Sad news that Afrirampo are calling it quits, but I’m sure that both Oni and Pika will end up doing more work in the future in other guises. If you’re awake in the middle of the night (U.S. time), they’ll be live-streaming a finale concert. Details on the WFMU blog (with some great streaming recordings too): http://blog.wfmu.org/freeform/2010/06/afrirampo-split-live-webcast-626-over-ustream.html

High Rise “Tapes”

•April 27, 2010 • 2 Comments

I would expect that High Rise needs little introduction to readers of this blog, but you never know. It’s been quite some time since High Rise were active, so it’s worth digging up some old evidence of their insane power.

Started in 1983, High Rise were the ultimate power trio. Named after the book by J.G. Ballard, a combination of Ballard’s dystopian views and a blend of punk and garage psych made the band one of the most freaked-out rock groups ever. Bassist/singer Nanjo Asahito was the idea man and the producer, responsible for the completely blown-out sound of the band’s recordings, which hit the red and stay there for every song (though others have sometimes taken or been given credit for the production style). Guitarist Munehiro Narita gave the band its overdriven, wah-crazy freakiness, and original drummer Euro kept things together and moving forward at high speed. Fans of Mainliner will clearly see the heritage, with the main difference being that of the differing styles Narita and Kawabata bring to the guitar side of things. Nanjo actually started Mainliner because he wanted to tour more and Narita wasn’t able to take the time, which is why the bands were similar propositions.

This cassette was the second release by High Rise, in 1984, although this copy is the 1996 reissue from Nanjo’s La Musica label. Most of the songs here were included on the band’s first proper release, High Rise II, from PSF Records, though a couple of them didn’t appear again until the CD reissue from Squealer. Given the various releases, bootlegs, and odd things put out by Nanjo on La Musica it’s hard to keep track of what appeared where and when. As with most things having to do with Nanjo, the facts are hard to separate from the rumors and legends.

Regardless, here’s a vintage piece of overdriven garage psych from 1984. Enjoy.

Listen to “Orange Desire” by High Rise.

Ongaku Otaku issue #1 PDF

•April 21, 2010 • 3 Comments

For some reason I hadn’t stumbled across this until now, but I was pleased to find that someone has carefully scanned all of the first issue of my Ongaku Otaku magazine and packaged it as a nice PDF. The Shock Corridor blog posted this back at the end of 2008. Since the issue has been out of print for many years, I’m quite happy to find this and, in fact, want to post a copy of it here as well to make sure it remains available. It’s interesting looking through it again now, 15 years later. Quite a time capsule. Enjoy!

Download Ongaku Otaku #1

Various items for sale

•April 8, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Just a quick note here that I need to slim down my collection a bit so I’m listing quite a lot of items (CD, cassette) on eBay for sale that may be of interest to readers here. Look for seller name ‘charnel’ to see what’s currently up there. Items include releases by Masonna, Aube, Otomo Yoshihide, Ground Zero, Keiji Haino, Null, Violent Onsen Geisha, and more. Thanks.

“Japan Bashing” volumes 1-3

•March 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Just a quick note that the terrific Friendsound blog has posted the three 7-inch singles released by Public Bath back in the early 90s, Japan Bashing Volumes 1-3. These were the introduction, for many, to bands like UFO or Die, Omoide Hatoba, Hanadensha, Subvert Blaze, and so on. David Hopkins, who ran Public Bath with his then-wife Betsy, was instrumental in helping get some of the indie bands there recognized by U.S. listeners. Living in Osaka, David was particularly in touch with the Kansai underground and the Alchemy Records label in particular. He introduced me to Alchemy head honcho Jojo during a trip to San Francisco with Sekiri, around 1991 or so (when I interviewed Sekiri and Jojo for File 13 magazine). During my first trip to Japan the following year on tour with Torture Chorus, David was very helpful to us. He and Betsy really were key to the big groundwell in the 90s that brought over so many great bands to the U.S.

Check out the posting of these singles here. Volume 1 is sort of the Boredoms axis, with tracks from them, UFO or Die, Omoide Hatoba, and Hanadensha. It’s perhaps the chaotic-psych material. Volume 2 is the old-school stoner rock volume, with Subvert Blaze (“Butterfly” is a kickass song, no doubt about it) and Playmate. Neither of those bands made much of an impression here, but the drummer from Subvert Blaze went on to be a major player in the Osaka scene and drum teacher to many young players. Volume 3 is the noise single, with Hojokaidan, Solmania, Masonna, and Hanatarash (a bit of an oddity since Hanatarash were done by 1991 when this came out).

Shizuka – Doll photos

•February 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

In my previous post about Shizuka’s passing, I mentioned that I have a number of pictures of her dolls, and I wanted to share them. I had the chance to take some decent photos of some of the framed pictures I have, so here they are. A couple of them were framed by Shizuka when she gave them to me, and you’ll see the special care she put into them. I scanned them fairly large, so if you click on the thumbnails below you can get the bigger, better pictures. Sorry my photography isn’t better, but nontheless, enjoy.