Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Psych’

The Apryl Fool – S/T

Seems like over the past couple of years, the house of (Haruomi) Honso has been rebuilt reissue by reissue. His solo records have been getting a good shout, Happy End got some (far too limited) reissues in the last couple of years and even some tangential works that he was involved in like Minami Masato’s The Tropics have found their way back to the table. This, however, is where it all started. The Apryl Fool were more straightforward than any of his works, but Honso’s bass anchors their simmering vision of blues rock in 1969 and gives it some great dimension. The band only really laid down one album, their eponymous debut, though a collaboration with Japanese musical theater group Tokyo Kid Brothers exists in a scant pressing around the same time as well. That single isn’t as indicative of their style, though and this LP remains the most complete overview of The Apryl Fool at the time.

Aside from Honso, other members would spread through the burgeoning Japanese psychedelic channels with members popping up in Shinki Chen & His Friends, Food Brain, The Floral, and Happy End. The record is rooted in the kind of British Blues that were dominant around the time, but occasionally also skews towards the psychedelic, especially on the more outre “The Lost Mother Land (Part 1) which came to the attention of many Western fans through the compilation Love, Peace & Poetry: Asian Psychedelic Music at the crack of the Aughts. This album proves that, while that track is an excellent example of effects-indulgent psych, the band had way more to offer. The band quit the day the record was released, and even while it was issued on a Japanese subsidiary of Columbia at the time, that spelled disaster for this music reaching enough ears. Survival Research ensures that this gem doesn’t get lost to the winds forever.


Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

The Silence

Just a few months after his solid solo LP, Masaki Batoh is back on a progressive bent with his band The Silence. Metaphysical Feedback is the first record since the band’s 2016 LP Nine Suns, One Morning, an album that expanded their already dense prog/psych palette from their two albums previous. A frantic pace seemed to be the norm for The Silence in the past, with their first three albums all falling less than a year from each other’s release. A longer time to germinate gives Metaphysical Feedback a bit of distance from its predecessors. The cindered folk stance of Nowhere seeps into the corners of the album, perhaps playing to a bit of crossbred songwriting between the two, but as usual The Silence remains Batoh’s avenue to bite into the wires of ‘70s prog, free-jazz, psychedelia, and the further reaches of space while smashing the boundaries between all of them.

The bulk of Metaphysical Feedback does just that, where opener “Sarabande” filters in slow and serene before igniting the pool of gasoline that’s been collecting over its 8+ minutes on the way out, “Tautology” is a bop-fried scorcher on the constant edge of freakout territory, lacerated by sax and ozone crackle. They employ groove that pushes further toward funk and further from their German Progressive touches on “Okoku” and it fits perfectly into their mindset. A dark current of flute pushes from jazz to psych odyssey on several tracks, and the band often uses them a herald for sweeping sea change within a track – the darkly decadent “Yokushurui” being the prime example.

Post-Ghost, Batoh has proven that he can’t be penned in by expectations, and while his solo record might have returned to a few markers in his past, The Silence proves that he’s still pushing further towards the edges for his future. The band has quickly amassed a catalog of remarkable releases, but it quickly becomes clear that the extra time to develop their latest makes Metaphysical Feedback their fist truly essential release.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

De Lorians

From The Jacks to High Rise to Kikagaku Moyo, I’m always down for what’s bubbling out of the hotpot of Japanese Psychedelia and this year the Beyond Beyond is Beyond crew make room for one more name in that holy roster. Tokyo collective De Lorians are hopping back through time like Doc Brown on a mission to melt the tried and true psychedelic crayon box into a puddle that drips Zappa’s ‘smarter than necessary’ approach to the ‘70s rock canon into the buttoned up and boiled down impulses of the never cool/always awesome Canterbury sound. In particular the record is picking apart the seams of latter period Soft Machine — during the sunset of Mike Ratledge and the brief dawn of Allen Holdsworth. If you’re a rare fan who thinks the Bundles period never got its due (and I am) then this is the bastard son of Soft you never saw coming. Throw in some heady nods to the liquid licks of Steve Hillage and this record begins to take a bit of shape.

Jazz rock isn’t exactly a genre that most music fans were barking for in the 7th inning stretch of 2019, but I’m gonna go ahead and thank the Beyonders for seeing past what people want and serving up what the heads need. The band’s blown way past the typical “you got yer psych in my jazz” hat tips. This isn’t dosed up Miles in his prime, and its way more than Weather Report fusing the forms. Instead the band is blowing full stack through the greasy grips of Placebo’s “Balek” if it was surprised in the dark by The Feed-Back’s freaked out agenda. Hold on though, that’s too many references to properly rinse this through your system. The band’s clearly spent time touring the rough terrain of the nerd-high psychedelic wasteland, turning the screws on jazz-ensemble editions and churning out progressive missives for the microdosed mentors, but what does it sound like?

The band runs smooth when they need to, riding groove like a good jazz-funk friendship society, but they lose their calculus cool more often than not, breaking down the tracks into jagged edges, found-sound snippets that pull the rug out from under the listener. They breeze through multiple time signatures that flex for the theory crowd over the groove riders every time. This is an album that’s got a niche, but 2019 is all niche so I say go for it. For the Japanese psych heads, this one doesn’t burn, doesn’t lay into the South Asian traditions or heavy fuzz gamut, but it crumples and crisps like a Gehry building come to life, stomping over the hills spreading the gospel of academic acid to the masses.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

De Lorians – “Toumai”

Ah it seems the psych gods are smiling on this week. Japanese prog-jazz disruption unit De Lorians have a new gem out and its accompanied with a hell of a video. The band’s been touting their Zappa love, and that came crushing through on the first single, “A Ship of Mental Health,” but “Toumai” is a different animal. The 8+ minute crusher weaves and wobbles through psych and jazz, bumping into corners and melting through modes that are as indebted to the silken swing of Placebo’s 1973 as it is to The Soft Machine’s blow through Switzerland 74 a year later. The song’s only further enhanced by liquid mind meld paint splatters of the video. This is gonna be one of the essentials for 2019. Get in on the ground floor.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Minami Deutsch – “Can’t Get There”

Japanese Krautrock torchbearers Minami Deutsch are back with a new EP, following closely on the heels of their live collaboration with Damo Suzuki. The new 12” out July 26th on Sweden’s Höga Nord finds the band locked into a serious motorik groove on title track “Can’t Get There.” The seven-minute snaker never loses its cool, threading blinking bits of guitar flash through the ever-steady rhythm section’s lock groove goodness. The EP features two other new tracks plus remixes of “Can’t Get There” by Jamie Paton and Mythologen.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

De Lorians – “A Ship of Mental Health”

Beyond Beyond is Beyond is on a crusher of a run this year. Their latest addition to the stable is Japanese jazz-psych unit De Lorians. The band’s first single, “A Ship of Mental Health” comes on like Gong trading barbs with The Mothers of Invention, hooking skronking grooves to an effervescent bubble of weirdness. The band slices the scene experimental while they drop out into interjections of psych-dipped environmental noise recorded by guitarist Soya Nogami. That’s just the first half too. Heading over the hump of the 5-minute odyssey the band proves to Nogami has plenty of guitar flash in his bag as well, melting down the mirrors of madness with a streamlined scorch. The record lands July 26th and should be sliding into your want list right about… now.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Les Rallizes Denudes + BE – ‘There’s No Heaven Like Hell’

Among the ranks of Japanese psych, one of the top takers for mythical status is Les Rallizes Denudes. Pinning down just what they were and how the noise unit operated is tricky. The band issued no official albums, though they played live for decades starting in ’67 at Kyoto University and centering on the works of enigmatic frontman Takashi Mizutani. Drawing inspiration from The Velvet Underground they took up originally as an accompaniment to theater performances, but quickly outgrew that status due to the volume and ferocity of their works overshadowing the performers. Like VU they aren’t a band that operated in one given box, and depending on the era and configuration they’d range from strummed and serene to amplifier fried chaos. The band’s status grew mostly outside of their country with stories of their intangible performances, members gone rogue (original bassist Moriaki Wakabayashi was involved in a Red Army plane hijacking in 1970) and their subsequent self-exile until the ‘90s.

The band’s catalog is mostly live performances that tumbled out of a rogue’s gallery of labels over the years, each in odd quantities that made them enviable to come across in the ‘90s and ‘00s. The pinnacle of their output might arguably be ’77 Live, but other great pockets in their catalog exist to be pored over as well. One such inclusion is a collaboration with experimental collective Be (also known as Yellow) who were headed by keyboardist/guitarist Taisuke Morishita. The original 2xCD issue included more material, but this LP on Alternative Fox centers on the two versions of the title track recorded at the band’s house in Fussa, outside of Tokyo. The first version is a pulsating drone of guitar and synth, zoned out and dropped via VHF to furthest reaches of psychic caverns of the mind.

The second version breaks the seal on bucolic peace for some heavier froth and fizz from the outset, sweeping across the speakers in extraterrestrial pulses. While the first version remains rooted in guitar and keys, droning into the ether, the second brings in the full band. Mizutani and the band lock in the rhythm, tearing at the fabric of reality in the way only LRD could. Though there are no official versions of the band, this setup was one worthy of documentation and its nice to see this pop up on vinyl. Its not always easy to get a hand on an LP of Denudes’ work so I’d say when you see it, it’s best to cop one.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Psychedelic Speed Freaks

After resurrecting High Rise’s sonic assault II from the cataloged caverns of PSF, Black Editions gives fans of guitarist/ear drum antagonist Munehiro Narita another treat with the issue of his revamped trio Psychedelic Speed Freaks’ eponymous LP. When the band first rolled out, High Rise dubbed themselves Psychedelic Speed Freaks, originally counting Narita with Masashi Mitani, Asahito Nanjo, and Ikuro Takahashi among the ranks. Presumably the name was an homage to the record label they’d eventually claim as a home, but the label thought the name was a little too on the nose once they were signed on board, hence the swap to High Rise. The switch back to their old handle doesn’t change much about the direction of the band’s sound. Still anchored by Narita’s “motorcycle fuzztone” guitar, the record is perched in the red and not looking to relent. David Jasso steps up on bass this time around and also adds in a dose of Lemmy-indebted vocals that scrape and strain to push themselves over the top of the cyclone assault of guitar and drums.

Straddling the lay lines between psych, metal, thrash, and doom, the band creates a punishing document for 2019 that expands on the dynamic that Narita and Asahito Nanjo crafted and damn near perfected over their initial run. It’s easy to imagine that there are plenty of newer volume feeders out there who never got the chance to experience High Rise in their paint-melting prime, so Psychedelic Speed Freaks seek to right a wrong and bring more joyous noise to the universe both (barely) between the grooves here and in the live setting. From all accounts they tore the doors off of Black Editions’ Festival last month and hopes are on that they keep it up with more dates. The kind of heat that this thing is putting out hasn’t been much matched of late, with perhaps the exception of Feral Ohms, who’ve always seemed to be heirs apparent to High Rise.

Goes without saying that if you’re a High Rise fan, this one’s essential. Honestly, if the term Japanese psych gives you any goosebumps this one should already be on your shelf. It’s a total crusher in every sense of the term.




Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Masaki Batoh

On his first solo album since 2012’s largely experimental Brain Pulse, Japanese legend Masaki Batoh returns to the roots of psych-folk that wrought Ghost all those years ago. Winding through the same serene mists that haunted Lama Rabi Rabi and the band’s eponymous debut, Nowhere is a picture of Batoh leaning into his strengths while embracing both Japanese and, for the first time, English lyrics. While this is his first solo record proper in a while, its hardly the first we’ve heard from Batoh’s camp in the last couple of years. Following three albums working the psychedelic edge with his outfit The Silence, Nowhere is also a return to the meditative pacing reverent calm for the songwriter, relying on circular fingerpicks and the humid creep of echo to replace anything as outwardly explosive as he’s been fond of recently.

Having been drawn to the work of Masaki Batoh through Ghost and later working back through Sweet and Honey and Cosmic Invention, this mode feels like a welcome homecoming for me. The songwriter’s long arched over into the mystic touches, feeling every bit as otherworldly as the Tolkien-referencing plucks of Bo Hansson or the ritualistic runs of Ash Ra Temple. On Nowhere, Batoh dips back into those modes, while also proving that he’s picked up new habits along the way. He picks at American blues on “Devil Got Me,” and skews towards a a tougher, almost ‘90s blooze approach on “Sundown,” but he manages to keep the album from feeling like a hodgepode. Its more like a journal of psychedelic damnation – a sketchbook of psych-folk-blues embattlement as divined by someone at his own crossroads. Maybe Batoh’s isn’t as famous as Robert Johnson, but it still feels elemental.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments

Masaki Batoh – “Tower of The Silence”

Though he’s long popped up on contemporaries’ records, and issued a clutch of essentials along with The Silence, Masaki Batoh’s solo records have often leaned into a more experimental approach rather than bring to mind his days in Ghost (the one and only, imo), which, makes his upcoming LP, Nowhere so exciting. The album digs into the same haunted well that wrought so many lonesome, ominous essentials from his former band. “Tower of The Silence” is built on a tangle of fingerpicked guitar that buoys alternating moments of reverential silence and impending doom. Even counting in The Silence’s catalog, its one of the best pieces to emerge from Batoh’s catalog in quite some time, feeling like it must already exist within the harbinger hollows of Ghost’s psychedelic dioramas. If the piece is any inkling as to how the rest of Nowhere will play out, then fans are in for something of an essential. Check out the bone-dry video above and look out for the new album in February.



Support the artist. Buy it HERE.

0 Comments