Posts Tagged ‘Japanese Psych’

Masaki Batoh – “In The Hour of Serpent”

Nice surprise today to have a new track from Masaki Batoh. With a solo release just last year, I’d not have expected more from the ex-Ghost frontman, but he’s sprung out of the fertile ground that brought forth Nowhere for a less solitary follow-up. Where that record was huddled around Batoh’s isolated reflections, Smile Jesus Loves YOU is more about reaching out in collaboration. Featuring members of Ghost (including percussionist Hiroyuki Usui) and The Silence, the record aims for communal transcendence and seems to be nailing it quite completely. Opener, “In The Hour of Serpent” is a lilting cut, buoyed by sweet flute curls and bittersweet plucks. The new LP is out May 8th fro Drag City. Dig deep on that cut below. If the rest of the record is half as good as this, its gonna be another stunner.



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White Heaven Out Reissued by Black Editions Group

More great news from the Black Editions Group. As they work through the PSF catalog, they continue to put great records back in their proper place among the stacks. This time the label has a reissue of White Heaven’s scorching 1991 LP Out. The record features guitar from Michio Kurihara (Ghost, Cosmic Invention) and it marks a high watermark of ’90s psychedelic Japan. Originals of the LP will set you back upwards of $300 so its an amazing piece to have back in circulation. The album is a feedback chomping monster of riff and riot that cannot be denied. Check out the slow-burn freakout of “Mandrax Town” and get over to the site, where they have a mailorder-only gold edition of the LP.


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OOIOO

As with her time in The Boredoms, YoshimiO’s own outlet OOIOO takes rock as a suggestion, moving instruments through clouds of noise in chaotic bursts. The sounds on nijimusi swarm from seething, stuttering percussive brambles through synth ether leaks and into angular guitars gutters choked by the angles and barbs. Entering into an OOIOO album comes with an understanding that, like surrealism or psychedelics, the world will shift and you’re likely not the one in control of when and how. Sounds penetrate from all directions. The listener must be ever vigilant or ever pliable, whichever suits your sway. YoshimiO is a master of mayhem, but she makes it seem like a sensible scramble once the gears start clanking into the second or third track.

OOIOO is like an auditory toss into the woodchipper, floating among the debris the patterns begin to emerge and the seemingly unhinged becomes a mechanism for rhythm and movement. The record enters itself high among the band’s ever-expanding catalog. Seemingly its no quiet coincidence that one of their best, Gold & Green was just given a new life by the label. The two pair well as poles of pulse in Yoshimi’s universe. Goes without saying, if you’re already plugged and pulsating on the OOIOO wavelength that this will continue to crinkle your soul. If this is the first time, quite honestly, nijimusi is a nice entry point as well, classic as ever but overwhelming just the same.

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Dhidalah

Back in 2017 Tokyo power trio Dhidalah signed up with GuruGuru Brain and cut a crusher of an EP. Two sides, one song per side and each one a heavy amalgam of space rock and psych with some German Progressive overtones. It was a perfect little pocket universe that dangled the promise of more to come. The band and label seemed a perfect fit and it lit the fuse of expectation. Two years later, seemingly out of thin air the band touches down their debut LP with a whiff of ozone and engine oil. The record, like that EP is packed with lengthy cuts, fleshing this out to four heatseekers, besting the EP’s pervious two side-long kickers. The feelings remain the same from those early days with the air around the record is dense and acrid, swirling with noxious gases like something out of a mockup from ‘70s sci-fi pulp covers. The band eases into the scene with the cosmic creep of “Neuer Typ” before kicking the afterburners into high through the scorch-skidded “Adamski.”

They toggle back and forth between the creosote char of amplifier fry and the Zen of sensory deprivation hallucinations. While the heady excursions into the ether bring solace, their sunburn blasts are lethal and might just take the edge for the band’s more welcome face forward. Sons of Hawkwind that they are, though, there’s no constant crush. The band explodes into atomic particles and bounces signals between them in cooling winds before amazing strength once again. They’ve cracked the code on earthquake DNA and brought seismic rumble to each new terra firma they touch down upon. This kind of release snagging a late-November slot is exactly why the rush to year-end judgment should be avoided. You never know when an album’s going to shake the moorings this hard, and when it does, reverence is owed.




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Dhidalah – “Jovian Sky”

Some late-year treasures have been floating out of the Guru Guru Brain house at the tail end of 2019 and I’d advise you not to sleep on them. Following up on their stunning debut EP, power trio Dhidalah is back with a new album of face-ripped space rock that pulls from the Ashra and AMT ends of the spectrum in equal doses. Tuck into the winding and thunder-scratched “Jovian Sky” for a taste of the band’s heft. The song rumbles and ravages, brings the low-end and then dips into the quasar-quench for a cool down that’s necessary before your speakers start to singe. If you missed out on their last platter, the GGB logo on the cover should be more than enough to sway ya, but let this crusher be the cincher. The record is releasing next week on a short-warning schedule. Highly Recommended!

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The Apryl Fool – S/T

Seems like over the past couple of years, the house of (Haruomi) Hosono 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 Hosono’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.


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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.



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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.



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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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