I’m steadily working through the great wishlist of artists who have shaped the path of Raven for the Hidden Gems series and this week we land on another. Along with Erica Elder, Matt Valentine’s tenure in MV & EE and its various incarnations was instrumental to the aughts psych-folk wave. In his stewardship of the great Northeast label Child of Microtones he’s given a home to The Tower Recordings, Samara Lubelski, Ash & Herb and Dredd Foole among others. And just this year he’s carved out yet another classic with PG Six as Wet Tuna. So, it came to pass that I asked Matt to pick out a record that had perhaps eluded the grasp of the masses all these years. Coming on the heels of the news that Taj Mahal Travellers’ August 1974 has found its way back to LP, Valentine’s pick from the band’s Takehisa Kosugi – his 1975 album Catch Wave – seems quite fitting. See how this record found its way to his life and what impact it’s had on his own works below.
Matt recollects, “I’ve always been obsessed with the less obvo New York and seeing it first hand in the ‘70s and ‘80s and beyond made me aware of parallel cultures at a young age. My mother was born and raised in the Bronx, my grandfather really dug “Katz’s” and Fluxus (insert link to explanation) was AROUND when I was growing up. That SHOP! I wanted to get to Japan. In the 80’s I lived in Burlington, Vermont for a bit and came across a Taj Mahal Travellers LP when cutting my teeth doing radio. I knew this was not Taj Mahal.”
“Years later when living in NYC, he muses, “I met a cat named Jeff Perkins who I started hanging out with a bunch along with my friends Tim Barnes & Dean Roberts. Tim introduced us and he started showing up at my solo gigs around town, specifically at The Cooler & Tonic. Jeff is awesome, he still drove a cab, directed some awe-inspiring films (Shout/Sister Midnight) and was producing an incredible series, “Movies For The Blind”, at the Anthology Film Archives where we hung out a lot. He also threw great parties at his pad in lower Manhattan. Christian Marclay was his neighbor…we loved Jeff so much Erika felt we should call him Uncle Jeff. anyway, at one of his parties I noticed he had the first Taj Mahal Travellers LP in his library. Dean had recently given me the Kosugi LP on Lovely Music (ed. Violin Improvisations, 1989) as a gift for jamming on his record and we started rapping with Jeff about Fluxus and all things groovy from the Japanese underground.”
“His epistemic inner ear fish eye relating to the great Takehisa Kosugi was pure mind expansion. He asked me if I was hip to Kosugi’s Catch Wave, which I was not, and if memory serves” Valentine continues, “I believe he put it on and blasted it. It slayed me like no other. One of the most perfect gargantuan blasts of sound I could have experienced at that “moment.” I might’ve been high…whatever the case I sought out the LP…found it and still continue to get off on it on a regular basis 20 years later. The drones on my CD-r COM 2: I Burned One With Bod but Cocola If I’m Peaking Which Way Is The Sky were heavily influenced by his vibe and the mojo and tone of the LP is a stone immaculate classic of timeless music. I’m very grateful for this awesome work & total vibration.”
Like his work with The Travellers, Kosugi’s work is a drop out experience that sucks the listener into the void. Catch Wave was released the same year as TMT’s seminal August 1974 and the two albums work as excellent counterpoints to the artist’s work at the time. Sadly, originals of this one go for untold amounts of money and while Phoenix did a reissue in 2011, they are hard to come by, meaning, there aren’t really LP copies of this to be found. CDs are a little easier to nab and its well worth your time to pick one up, though. Similarly, if you’ve been missing out on that Wet Tuna LP, get grabbin’. What are you waiting for?
Support the artist. Buy it HERE.