Marble Sheep “Message from Oarfish”
Identified here with the modern, shorter version of their original name — Marble Sheep and the Rundown Sun’s Children — Ken Matsutani’s psych-rock group has gotten punkier than ever (Matsutani also runs the intriguing Captain Trip label). Released outside Japan on Germany’s Funfundvierzig label, the eight songs here are mainly shorter blasts of High Rise-style psych, though certainly with a more pop sensibility. Imagine if the Ramones broke into wah-wah guitar eruptions periodically, and you’ll start to get the picture.
Marble Sheep have had a long career, and have gone through a number of changes. Their earliest incarnation was along a rather noisy, tripped-out angle, and then in the 90s Matsutani went through an overtly Grateful Dead-influenced period that, to be honest, didn’t really hold my interest. I saw them in Tokyo in 1992 and while the liquid light show was nice, the sound was a fairly bland psych pastiche. Around 2000 or so, however, they seemed to get their energy back, and the Stone Marby album showed some good promise again. Since then, the band have gotten substantially punkier, with fine results, and this album from last year (though it may have been released in 2006 in Japan; my promo copy here doesn’t have much info) is pretty heavy.
“Tears” opens the album with 12 minutes of space voyaging, but most of the other tracks are kept at pretty short lengths until the closing “From the Centre”. Even the 6-minute semi-ballad “Savior of Street” deftly balances melodic vocals with thick fuzzed-out guitar and heavy, crashing rhythms. Overall, good stuff that’s nice to hear coming from a band just reaching the end of its second decade!
Listen: “Skull Cool”