Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Psych’

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.



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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.



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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.



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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.



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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.




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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.



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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.



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DMBQ

For their 13th record, Japan’s heavy hitters, DMBQ have headed back to basics – capturing their own particular maelstrom with an array of vintage equipment and analog aesthetics. They’re harnessing the squall, tapping into the eye of psychedelic fury and heading straight to the heart of creeping dread. The record bursts open with the fire-wielding stomp of “Blue Bird,” a song that belies its natural zen title, instead rumbling across the barren outback on tank treads, guzzling the last gasoline available in a wasteland war zone out of hedonistic spite. As the record wears further on, they don’t overwhelm with a constant barrage of amplifier scorch, though they don’t skimp on it either.

There’s a general burnt apocalypse feel to the Keeenly and as the record unfolds the band evokes more than just the warbringer battlements. They unleash dust storm devastation – torrents of guitar sweeping headlong through the headphones in a disorienting haze. They soak the listener to the bone with monsoon drones, and heat-warped textures. When vocals find their way through the chaos, they scratch at the listener with a wild-eyed fury. DMBQ are well over a decade deep into their career of noise excavation and they show no signs of dulling their edge. Keeenly may not be as frantic as they’ve ever been, but it jackhammers as hard as anything in their catalog.

The band even finds a bit of clarity by the time it collapses to a close. The record builds worlds only to destroy them, but by the time “The Cave and The Light” rises over the horizon, the band is ready to rest. The final track sparkles like the remains of a a great cosmic storm, a fitting peace to end an album of malevolent destruction. A definite hole has been felt with the absence of DMBQ in the last decade, and the band wastes no time reasserting their place back atop the mountain of Japanese psych masters.


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DMBQ – “Blue Bird”

Its been a good clip since DMBQ graced us with their presence around these (or any) parts and their first rumblings sings 2005’s The Essential Sounds From The Far East find the band just as enmeshed in guitar pyrotechnics and acid bath aesthetics as they’ve ever been. One of Japan’s fiercest exports, the trio has been flaying minds since the early nineties and now they find themselves popping up on Ty Segall’s DC imprint God?. Seems like a perfect fit to me, to be honest. “Blue Bird,” the first single from the album, is a low-slung psych freakout, tumbling over a barrage of drums and gnashing its teeth on the psyonic forces of feedback and flesh stripping riffs. The 12-ton drop of the song is a great reminder that breathless release cybcles are all well and good, but sometimes the best things are worth the wait – even if you dindn’t know you’ve been waiting for it. I’d never have expected a DMBQ album this year, but it ranks high on the list of great surprises for 2018.



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Kikagaku Moyo

On their latest album for GuruGuru Brain, Kikagaku Moyo have dug deeper into their psychedelic soul than ever before. The album, produced with Portuguese jazz musician Bruno Pernadas, still weaves their appreciation for psych-folk, spiritual ambience, sitar breakdowns and deluges of guitar, but adds a newfound spaciousness and attention to groove that pushes Masana Temples to the top of their catalog. The band’s last album was awash in pastoral hues, and while it often lit the match on psychedelic burdowns, the remainder of the album rooted itself in a crisp coolness. The aptly titled House in the Long Grass evoked the lush countryside and the solace of verdant spaces. While some of that aspect still remains on their proper follow up, there’s an indelible sense of the city and humanity’s hum present in the mix this time.

Perhaps part of this arises from the band members putting space between themselves, thus necessitating entry to the clockwork coercion of city environs. The mournful lilt of “Orange Peel” and the lonesome slink “Nazo Nazo” capture a sense of traveling – echoing loneliness among a hive of constant activity. As the members work their ways back towards one another the modern world inevitably creeps up to try to reclaim them. The band, however, slips through with the steadied pace of cosmic travelers straight out of a Jodorowsky vision. They seem to radiate a utopian bubble of classic ’70s psychedelia that wards off the technological tangle all around us. The record bends creative restlessness into an organic set of songs that breathe with tension, elation, and as usual, ferocious catharsis. When they flick the flint to flame on “Nana” and “Gatherings” its with purpose, burning down the modern marvels to reveal the old temples beneath.

Perndas, it appears, shares their interest in lending immediacy to a recording, with the band working in one or two takes, even if it means the song isn’t note perfect. Not that Kikagaku Moyo are sloppy, but the imperfections lend even more weathering to their vintage air, conjuring up communal psych communities more attuned to the trip than concerned with the token of a pristine recording. Kikagaku Moyo perked many ears with Forest of Lost Children, positioned themselves at the top of Tokyo’s psychedelic circuit with House in the Long Grass and now they cinch their pedigree with Masana Temples. If somehow you’ve missed out on the band up ’til now, this is the perfect moment to come on board.



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