Oftentimes rarity isn’t always a barometer for quality. Within the ranks of record collectors, obscurity is just as easily substituted for substance when desirability takes over. Rarity is all over Martha, the first of three albums recorded by Tomoaki Kamijo starting in 1971. The record, despite the albatross of scarcity is quite engaging, a ’70s pop-sike nug that takes as much from George Harrison as it does from The Incredible string Band. It’s filled with mournful ballads that would foreshadow a Japanese-psych underground years in the making, when Ghost and their circle of cracked-fuzz spirit-casters captured the imagination of a huddled generation.
While the original was hard to put hands on, vigilant reissue house Shadoks sought to bring it back to some semblance of accessibility, though Shadoks issues themselves never stick around forever. Still, this one can still be had for the canny collector and multiple dives into Kamijo’s world prove it to be a worthwhile nugget that’s deserving of unearthing. There are plenty of fourth-tier psych-folk records, but this one has the chops to hold on. It’s not bursting fourth with new ground, but it had a soft hand when needed and never indulged in the kind o schtick that would carbon date lesser contenders with a pastiche of ’60s hallmarks.
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