White Heaven – Strange Bedfellow
A few years back Black Editions reissued White Heaven’s debut, a searing blend of psychedelia and noise that cemented the band as one of the most vital hubs of havoc in Japan in the ‘90s. The album is raw and ravaged. Picking up the dynamic laid down by Jacks before them of psychedelia laced with an inner darkness. There were moments of frantic, neuron-splitting amp fry, but also low, melancholic crawls through the tar-soaked blackness. On their follow-up, 1993’s Strange Bedfellow, the band reins in some of the ragged edges, but never tempers the heat that fuels their forge. The record still reaches sweat level, but there’s a cleanness to the burn this time around, paired with a few forays into jazz-rock and West Coast psychedelia that were absent from the most blues-born debut.
The record blisters from the first moments, starting on sear, but truly heating up on “H.L.” The aforementioned jazz strain begins to show through on “Silver Current,” a song I’d like to believe is the namesake for Ethan Miller’s record label of the same name. If I remember right, he issued a long out of print CD-R anthology for the band before these official issues. The record takes on a few overcast shades from there on out, mixing its bite with moments of ambling beauty that owes a debt to the California coast on more than a few occasions, mixing moments of folk into their Blue Cheer chug. The debut will always be the record that snags the marquee moments among Japanese obscurities, but the more that Strange Bedfellow burrows under the skin, the more it reveals itself to be the more nuanced record. It’s great to have it back in print from the folks at Black Editions. Truly doing the world a service over there.
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