Posts Tagged ‘Taj Mahal Travellers’

Matt Valentine on Takehisa Kosugi – Catch Wave

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.

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Taj Mahal Travellers – August 1974

It’s been a hell of year for out of print Japanese psych classics. With Black Editions firing on all cylinders there’s plenty to love from the depths of the PSF empire but Aguirre’s creeping in with a classic of their own. The Belgian imprint has rounded up the cosmic float of Taj Mahal Travellers’ definitive album, August 1974, in all its double-wide glory. The band, known for their eclectic live performances and outdoor improvisations, took to the studios at Columbia Japan for four pieces stretched over four sides, each a deeper dive into electronic quaver, echoplexed violin, growled drones, and charring feedback. The record stands at the apex of Japanese improv and its tendrils wrap deep into the following decades’ younger players as one of the main influences of the new psychedelic front. Though it’s clear that the band had a heavy link to their German Progressive counterparts around the same time, effectively taking up the far east version of Kosmiche on this record, they give the proceedings a distinctly Japanese bent, taking what they’d acquired from a few EU tours and bending it to their will in the studio setting.

Aside from this record the only other official document from the band while active was July 15, 1972 a live recording from Sohgetsu Hall in Tokyo that got the official treatment as their debut. Following August 1974 the band would break ties, with most of the younger members dropping away from the scene and violinist Takehisa Kosugi continuing his journeys through experimental circles, even winding up with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company as musical director for a while. The spectral howl of the band’s heavy hitter rears its head as an influence in psychedelic circles to this day, so its great to have this back in an official capacity on the table. Highly recommended for fans from Ash Ra to Acid Mother’s and everything in between.

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