Captain Trip Rec. Mickey Guitar Project : Flowers (JAP,2007)*°°

In 70 stages, in one long track, Ken Matsutani plays “hardly melodically played” reverbed vibrations of the guitar, with birds like sounds sipping through as an accompanying background, like an area of a sea of sounds in a room, which feels vibrant and completely stagnant at the same time. The composition hardly moves over the tracks, while the overtones of the echoes tend to move forward, from water to air, like dripping circles of sound on a flat waterline. The echoes swell and become a hypnotic excursion. The loops of circles become round..but also circle around a little too often. They are too slowly changing to convince that it is a real, alive and well, spontaneous energy, considering its duration. In the end, such lack of additional ideas during the evolution, confirms the stage of stagnation. It demands an overdose of patience from me, something which I more or less gave up showing after the 24th section.

Label : http://www.captaintrip.co.jp/new9.html
Japanese info : http://atfirst-atlast.cside.com/garage/marble/micky-5-flowers.htm
20-20-20 Michio Kurihara : Sunset Notes (JAP,2007)***'

Kurihara had a long history of experience as a guitarist playing with some important Japanese Underground groups like White Heaven, Yura Yura Teikoku, Ghost and Marble Sheep, and lately went touring with Damon & Naomi. This last group its label reissued his 2005 solo debut which was released before in Japan only, on Pedal Records. It also featured two tracks with the sweet folkpop vocals of Aso Ai, who released her second, and also best album on the same label (“Lavender Edition”, 2004) just a year before her appearance on this album, and the rhythm section of Yura Yura Teikoku's drummer, Shibata Ichiro.

It is merely an instrumental, rather accessible album with song-like melody driven, three or four-track arranged guitar work, mostly with the heaviness of the fuzz, but played in a certain controlled manner, and with a pop instrumental attractiveness, with additional drums and bass (especially track 1-2), and just a bit of analogue keyboards. “Pendulum on a G-string : the last Cicada” is a multi-layered guitar track, with a bass/ guitar driven rhythm at first, and fuzz sounds spinning around it, a bit of pedalled keyboard, backward kind of sounds with electric guitar, and amplified guitar. Only the short “Canon in “C” (C for Cicada)”, with distorted guitar lead, reminds of other Japanese groups like White Heaven,.. while a second guitar sets a melodic mood in. The more up-tempo rhythmic 6th track, “Twilight Mystery of a Russian Cowboy” sounds more like a Morricone-melody in a fuzzed surf-rock manner. The second vocal track with Aso Ai, a smoothly calm moment, “The Wind’s Twelve Quarters”, uses strummed guitar and some keyboards instead of guitar  (including mellotron), and sparse percussion. "The Old Man and the Evening Star" is another multi-layered moody evening musing, where each guitar follows the other one closely, and the additional keyboards are like stars and clouds passing slowly by in the sky. Last track, “A Boat of Courage” is like the second part of it, a filmic poetic moment, where the title once more describes perfectly the content. It starts moodily with the image of a boat leaving shore, while the second part, with more uptempo drums and bass, with more guitars, the melancholy of that moment of leaving is changed into happiness, strength and courage for what comes anew. All in all, this is a very moody album suitable for repeated listening sessions.

Kurihara’s album will be re-released on May, 21st, a day before the release of his cooperation with Boris on Drag City.

Audio : links will be added when available & on http://www.myspace.com/twentytwentytwenty
Info and discography on Michio Kurihara : http://www.wfmu.org/~rlim/kuri/k_intro.html
discography : http://www.santaroga.freeserve.co.uk/mk/mk-home.htm
biography : http://music.aol.com/artist/michio-kurihara/252322/biography
& http://www.themix.com/performer/252322/michio-kurihara
Label info & interview : http://www.damonandnaomi.com/albums/kurihara.html
Other review : http://www.tiliqua-records.com/Pedal/LinkPedal.html &
http://www.artistdirect.com/nad/store/artist/album/0,,3226355,00.html
Fünfundvierzig Marble Sheep : Raise the Dead -2006 March Europe- (JAP,2006)**°
+ bonus cdr (marby)  Marble Sheep : special special CD-R (live at Kopenhagen 2006)*'

This is a compilation of live recordings done during their German tour in 2006. The recordings are done very roughly and sound very smoky. Many times the band sound like old dirty rockers who play like old rockers, a bit more like German basement rock bands, while they have much more in common. They even seem to sing in German, but I cannot understand a word. Luckily, their guitarist (which is former White Heaven guitarist, Ken Matsutani) shows some freaky moments (comparable to what he did in White Heaven), at the times when the band plays for instance a bluesy, repetitive bass line, with psychedelic effect and room for such improvisations. Elsewhere, they are also able to improvise in a rather moody psychedelic rock way on some of the songs, which is enjoyable to hear as well. While fundamentally playing or falling back on heavy played rock/rock’n roll, I prefer the group best when they really freak-out, and almost flip, which doesn’t happen too often. On “Who shoud be trust?” there’s one moment where the drummers are rolling like thunder, and the guitars become noisy (like also known and typical for some live concerts of Acid Mother’s Temple). Also “Horizon” has some great psychedelic freak-out moments mixed with moodier passages. On “Rain” is another great flip moment with great drives in the drumming. For these German tour and live concerts, they had invited Morihide Sawada (from Yura Yura Teikoku) to become their second drummer. When both drummers push the music forward, this creates some of the best psychedelic moments. But most often it is on the rock song that the group leans on, like slightly tired rockers, having given already lots of energy in their experiencing the late evenings so many many times, and with drinks and other things that I’m sure will be already exhausting for their creative attitudes to give away and burn up all energy they have.
Those who order the CD directly in Japan get a 3-track bonus CD, also recorded in Germany. It is not an essential submission.

PS. The digipack contains various pictures from their tour.

Audio : on amazon
German reviews : with audio http://www.indigo.de/unser_programm/titel/82085/
& http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de/index.php?content=review&albumId=7410
& http://www.metal-inside.de/frame.php?url=http://www.metal-inside.de/dyn/review.jsp?id=7237
& http://www.powermetal.de/cdreview/review-8215.html
& http://www.metal.de/cdreviews.php4?was=review&id=6814
& http://schallplattenmann.de/artikel.html?topic=114872
& http://www.whiskey-soda.de/review.php?id=15249
& http://www.sellfish.de/280.2117.0.0.1.0.phtml
Homepages : http://www.marby.or.tv/index-e.htm & http://www.soho-net.ne.jp/%7Eohr/
German fan page on 2006 German tour : http://www.marblesheep2006.de.vu/
Other page : http://www.psychedelic-music.net/pmdb/db3/db_band.php4?id=148
Label : http://www.fuenfundvierzig.com
and available from http://www.captaintrip.co.jp/jpn91.html#ms
with info on extra cdr : http://www.captaintrip.co.jp/sale.html   next Marble Sheep release see->
Void Sound Studio demo Mimi-Unagi : Gyu-nyu-no-bero-bero / Slimy Skin of Cow Milk (JAP,2006)****'

Mimi-Unagi (=ear-worm) originally was formed in Seattle in 1999 as a one man band, street performing with an acoustic guitar and home-recording with a cheap 4-track. Back in Japan, in 2001, Motaro Mimino joined the Metal band “Gotsu-Totsu-Kotsu”, as a vocalist called ‘slimy Allah’. But since 2003, Mimi-Unagi was re-engaged, and released a private CDR. Live, Mimi-Unagi now usually performs as a group of 4, but there were moments, under the name of "Electric Mimi Unagi Orcastra” when there are 10 people on stage.
This recording is done completely solo, but has all the power of a full stage band. The music could easily have been influenced by Ruins (some of the mad vocals, and some of the complexity here an there, even when in a slower form), but the electric guitars are more heavy progressive, sometimes slightly heavy metal or some kind of post-rock, or alternative rock, with attractive rhythms, with an easy to follow evolution even when sometimes more complex, while the performance is like theatre-and-rhythm with lots of charisma. The vocals are often like a new form of Japanese theatre, and are like another instrument. This is powerful stuff with its own unique character !! The last tracks, shows the more acoustic site (guitar,..) of Mimi-Unagi, that might have its origins in street performances. Even when using on it funny rhythmical nonsense vocals, there is also a deeper lying convincing darkness contrasting its inner character. This album definitely deserves an official release !

Audio : "The Moon In The Hand" & on http://www.myspace.com/mimiunagi
MP3 for sale (with samples) on http://www.yesjapan.com/mimiunagi/
Homepage (Japanese/English) : http://mimiunagi.buzama.com/
Italian review : http://indiemusic.blogosfere.it/2006/04/mimiunagi_slimy_skin_of_cow_milk.html


Voidlab    Mimi-Unagi : EP (JAP,2008)****'

The first track, “Hail!Hail! The walkman” is a more blues-inspired song, like Beefheart with a desorientating voice, and with deliberately slightly overdone energy and fun, but kept more simple and straight and essentialised to the “recognisable” style, compared to earlier tracks I have heard from the band’s full release, with still some punk flavour hanging despite acoustic guitars leading the track (together with electric bass, percussion, drums, and some didgeridoo??), with some voices becoming communal crazy or child-like near the end. “Vatican Waltz” has a fun rhythm too, some jazzy piano, and communal singing, and a strange silent break with a bit of piano, keeping up a tension before the last part. Last track is led by acoustic guitars and percussion is bluesier too, with an entertaining rhythm and singing, like dance music for the deliberately insane people because that’s more fun to be. Brilliant ! Please release their music, NOW !! But don’t forget to check their more up tempo and more complex debut. Both are like well recorded demo-formats.

Audio on http://www.myspace.com/mimiunagi
Mesh Key   Yura Yura Teikoku : na.ma.shi.bi.re.nz.ma.me.me.ma.i (JAP,rec.2003,pub.2006)***°

Yura Yura Teikoko, since 1989, have released some albums on their private Jigoku label, on Midi Records, for PSF and for Captain Trip Records. Their studio recordings were all recorded at Soichiro Nakamura's (from Japanese psych band White Heaven) Peace studios, with You Ishihara (also from White Heaven) producing.
As an underground psych band, the group developed a certain status inside Japan, and this album of a live recording should show us the group at their peak. I must admit they manage to blend and mix very successfully a few very different styles and approaches which fit well so logically. Where at times some relatively simple and even mellow emotional Japanese pop and indierock songs could be a starting point, the group isn’t at all limited by these expressions. In a rather unique and very controlled way they evolve to faster territories, with a deliberate often multilayered-distorted sound mixing powerrock with an effect of noise and psychedelica. In the introduction of the CD it seemed as if the multilayered music received shortly so much distortion that one could almost hear something like extra fading-the-music-out undertones, -the opposite of effect as overtones, but with an equal out-of-this world effect but much more confusing-. Beside the pop/rock association, the group plays also some of the rawest, smoked forms of hard rock’n roll I’ve heard for a long time, almost like a garagepunk type of rock’n roll, like a slightly burned, smoked ham of pure flesh. Additionally to that the group adds to this some wonderful stoned-making inner psychedelic repetitions. In combination the variety of the group lies in between Japanese pop towards garagepunk, but always with serious psych interests, using fuzzed-out guitar solos and droning freak-outs. Their use of noise distortion I think is extremely well controlled, even beautiful how in the way it is done, because here it becomes not like just disturbing noise but like “loaded energy”. A great idea I heard on “Penetration” is that this song starts with more sing-a-long normal hard driven rock’n roll, then all of a sudden a tape recorder switch stops the music, with a sound of something like a train stopping, and then turns it into heavy & extreme, powerful noise, until it turns back to the song. I also like the Motörhead like bass and speed tension on “Night Creatures”. Last track, “Became a Star” is one of the Japanese pop song tracks, which turns into more heavy popnoise.
I can understand what people like about the group and it must have been weird to (have) witness(ed) this live.
This is limited to 700 copies only.

Note : Yura Yura Teikoku’s bass player Chiyo Kamekawa also plays in another Japanese group, the Stars with Ishihara (formerly White Heaven). Michio Kurihara of Ghost, big fan of the group, appeared also more often as guest second guitarist. Drummer Morihide Sawada joined more recently forces with Marble Sheep, (a group with other formerly member from White Heaven, Ken Matsutanion), on their 2006 German live tour. See a review of this live recording on next review->, a bit further on this page.

Audio : "Became A Star", "Nai!!" (from WMFU radioshow), "Penetration" (or here from WMFU radioshow), "3 Night Creatures"
Homepage with audio from their most know album:  http://www.myspace.com/11134679
Info : http://mesh-key.com/yura.html
& http://nippop.com/artist/artist_id-180/artist_name-yura_yura_teikoku/
Intro : http://threethreefourfive.blogspot.com/2005/11/hitting-sweet-spot.html
Small descriptions : http://www.midheaven.com/artists/yura.yura.teikoku.html
& http://www.volcanictongue.com/yurayura.html
& http://www.pliink.com/mt/marxy/archives/000439.html
& at http://www.eclipse-records.com/catalog/y_1.html


Mesh Key   Yura Yura Teikoku : Sweet Spot (JAP,rec.2005,pub.2007)****'

This is the second album I hear from the group. It is a much more smoothly relaxed album, not really rock, wave, or psych but something new in between, with influences of surf, rock’n roll, avant-garde and perhaps with different more creative ideas from punk just here and there, only for the sounds of it. Often there’s use of a slightly distorted voice, the amplified guitars sound mostly rather relaxed. It is difficult to describe, but the group is highly inventive with relatively simple structures : the tunes of the songs in combination with some sort of invention of new sounds, rhythmically and smooth-mechanically, form their creative song and always instrumentally interesting expressions. These new sounds can be created by bits of electronica (just hear the addition of a part with kazoo kind of sounds, avant-jazz piano, and far-out mellotron sounds on the highly originally structured “it was a robot”, or the fuzzy keyboards on “tako monogatari”,) or on guitar (on “soft death” there is used I think bowed electric guitar), or a handful of distorted percussive ideas (also on “slow death”, or just hear the bombing drum effect on “kantsumae”), often more up tempo compared to the songs. On two tracks we also hear a female vocalist adding some wordless effects. I very much understand why this band is so popular in Japan. Their sound is independent from all scenes while fitting in with all of them. They have their own distinctive voice that has all the necessary qualities to be one of the most original bands around.

Audio : "Hate Ningen Wa?", "2005 Nen Sekairyoko", "The Communication"
& on http://www.myspace.com/yurayurateikoku
& http://www.sonymusic.co.jp/Music/Arch/AI/YURAYURA/
Homepage (with audio on discography, 4th record, second row) : http://www.yurayurateikoku.com/
Label info on group: http://www.mesh-key.com/yura.html
Article on group : http://www.badbee.net/english/a-zbands/2007.04.25_yurayurateikoku.html
Other reviews : http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/article/...
& http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/3633 & http://www.keikaku.net/reviews/79
& http://www.musicemissions.com/artists/albums/index.php?album_id=4331
& http://metropolis.co.jp/tokyo/589/music_cd.asp
& http://threethreefourfive.blogspot.com/2005/11/hitting-sweet-spot.html
Radioshow on the group : http://www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/16956


Mesh Key   We Acediasts : Pre Acediasts (JAP,rec.2001;re.2005)**'

Review you can read at : http://progressive.homestead.com/prog9.html#anchor_114
Beta-Lactam Ring Rec.    Green Milk From The Planet Orange : City Calls Revolution (JAP,2005)***°'
Green Milk From The Planet Orange : You Take me to the world (JAP,2006)***°

This excellent psych/prog item and a more improvised review of the follow up is reviewed at http://progressive.homestead.com/prog10.html#anchor_145
JAPANESE PROGRESSIVE / PSYCH /
MUSIC REVIEWS page 1
Last Visible DogKaina : Tsurubami (JAP,rec.2000,2002,re.2003)**°
Acme Rec. The Seventh Seal (JAP,1997)***°
Squeeler Music   Acid Mother’s Temple & The Melting Paraiso U.F.O. : in C (JAP,rec.2001,2002)****°

I prefer to review 3 different Acid Mother Temple related items here : Kaina : Tsurubami as a typical AMT-related improvisation, "in C" as one of the best thema/record associated releases I heard so far and "Seventh Seal" as the best Krautrock related LP I've heard so far from them.
Acid Mother Temple already became a cult-group with its own distinctive improvisation sound highly influenced by the Ash Ra Temple/Uli Trepte/.. German Krautrock improvisations. Kawabata Makoto and his group have so many ideas which come forth from listening to such and other albums, now when they have the chance to record and try these “energies” out they simply blow it up and make their own version. “In C” I found a lot more interesting and convincing than the original score by Terry Riley which for me was also sometwhat boring, because the spirit of what he has developed there had reached its creative peaks in exploring in some of the predating works he did before, while Acid Mother’s Temple is amidst the true energy of a creative exploration during this recording. Kaina’s “Tsurubami” is a compilation of three improvisations on two different locations (Acid Mother’s Temple & Club Radix, Nagoya). The first track is a beautiful ambient overtone drone’s psych, with some controlled brooding & distorted background space vibrations building up towards the end. The second track is complete distorted & overloaded madness, another aspect of the same group, while the last nicely concluding track is another ambient psych track from 2002, added as bonus to the original CDR from 2000. A release which grew a lot on me with each listens.

Info Kaina : http://www.acidmothers.com/Cgi-bin/album/lvd/lvd_kaina_cd/ & http://lvd.4mg.com
Audio from "In C" : "In E"
Info "In C" : http://www.squealermusic.com/catalog/acidmothers.html & LP : http://www.acidmothers.com/Cgi-bin/album/eclipse/eclipse_inc/index.html
& CD : http://www.acidmothers.com/Cgi-bin/album/squealer/squealer_inc/
Review : http://www.stylusmagazine.com/review.php?ID=3
http://www.spun.com/music/product-detail.jsp?id=2168609
http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/211
"The Seventh Seal" info : http://www.acidmothers.com/Cgi-bin/album/acme/acme_seventh/ & http://www.psychedelic-music.net/pmdb/db3/db_band.php4?id=101
German review : http://www.hayfever.de/reviews/platten/article/37282533/Seventh+Seal_s-t/
Tutinoko Label      Pochakaite Malko : Layla (JAP,2004)****°

This second album by the group is a terrific album, thanks in part to the addition of a new member, violinist Akihisa Tsuboy, who here and there added some Mahavishnu Orchestra influence. “Meat powdered Bones” has an extra progressive drive with bass and rhythms. Their jazz-rock/Rock In Opposition/partly progressive style also takes elements from other origins (tabla and India on “Layla”), Middle Eastern belly dance (the brilliant “Hallelujah”, with additional use of oud (Ryuchi Imai), piano, darbukka,.. with use of varied breaks and different musical themes, played with a bigger group, played live with three belly dancers). “Frozen Folder” has another, European (dance) folk element (harmonica, flutes) (the label also has Lars Hollmer under its wing). A track in the direction of “progressive” is the third track (“Cristao-peasants’revolt”). “Somewhere in time” is based upon the interesting  6/4 rhythm, and some terrific jazzrock improvisation on keyboards. Last track, D.N.A. starts in a more classically composed style, and then brings us into a powerful Maga-esque, Univers Zero like teritory. A brilliant, highly recommended album.

PS. member Kazuo Ogino plays also with psych/psychfolk band Ghost.

Audio : "LAYA" , "hallelujah" , "it came from ..."
Label info : http://www.tutinoko.net/new_disc.html from http://www.tutinoko.net/
& http://www.tutinoko.net/pocha/index.html
Italian review : http://www.drivemagazine.net/cartarece/laya/laya.html
German review : http://www.ragazzi-music.de/pochakaitemalko04.html
Reviews of first album : http://www.progreviews.com/reviews/display.php?rev=pm-pm
& http://www.e-prog.net/bands/pochakaitemalko.htm
& http://www.musicterm.jp/nearfest/FLYPOCHA.HTML
First album for download (not sure if this is official) :
http://mp3dolls.com/en/full-albums/Pochakaite_Malko/14730/e



Listed on this page :

Kaina, The Seventh Seal, Acid Mother's Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO, Kawabata Makoto,
Yura Yura Teikoku (2x), We Acediasts, Green Milk From The Planet Orange, Marble Sheep (2x),
Pochakaite Malko, Mimi-Unagi (2x), Michio Kurihara, Micky Guitar Project

Captain Trip Rec. Marble Sheep : Message From Oarfish (JAP,2007)****

With their previous release still fresh in mind, and a convincing feeling about the group, I was curious as to this studio-based follow-up. The band immediately knows where to drag you in, in a heavy rock stoned way, convincing with full energy and obviously a loud live experience. Some, perhaps rather unique specific approach of the group which makes a quality and strength of the group, is a flavour of a punk-like hard rock, with fast drums too. Having successfully created a satisfactory blower, then the band also adds calmer rockers, even using acoustic guitars to lead (with electric guitars more on the background) on some track, with tracks that, less stoned, clearly thoroughly build up the energy again, with interesting details of ideas, like a pulsating bass on “From the centre” for instance. In no time it seemed that I have listened to the whole album. The energy is well balanced over the album, which confirms a perfect listen.

I also received with the CD a limited edition 3-track DVD-R with it 3 tracks from the German tour, filmed from a few places in the public. It is a rather overwhelming and at times claustrophobic experience (“Rain”), with quieter and rockier moments of balancing out. The light show is great. A performance which includes 2 drummers and three electric guitarists ; this is heavy. It is understandable how these guys participated with heavier moments in Acid Mothers Temple before. Second track is an old rocker which goes berserk a bit (“Crocodile”). After a small drum duet the mascot comes up, to conclude with a last track (“Ancent Wind”). Seeing this happening I understand the effect of it. A DVD which convinced me of the group’s live power.

-Update 2007 : The album is reissued on the German label Fünfundvierzig.-

Audio : "Mana", "savior of street", "from the centre"
Audio & info : http://www.myspace.com/marblesheep
& http://www.myspace.com/marby71
Label info : http://www.captaintrip.co.jp/jpn91.html
& http://www.captaintrip.co.jp/marble-e.html
Homepage : http://www.marby.or.tv/index-e.htm
German edition on http://www.fuenfundvierzig.com/45.htm
Prophase Rec.         Kawabata Makoto & Michishita Shinsuke :
Maru Sankaku Shikaku -LP- (Circle Triangle Square) (JAP,2010)*°

Kawabata Makoto of Acid Mother's Temple fame an Michishita Shinsuke of LSD March, as both psych heads of their own generation sat together for this long improvisation with what seems to be a lot of ethnic instruments. This could be very interesting, and more than once you get the impression of a temple jam, with the echoes of that kind of environment, I must say I have heard many better examples losing itself in the drone and still expressing something with clarity and from a well prepared consciousness. This becomes layer by layer a not really innerly-interacting blurry mess, a chaotic art exhibition-like jam from a hippie minded execution. It unfolds beautifully and slowly, stretches to boring extended proportions without adding many ideas except for more sounds. A beautiful looking LP, but musically the limited sound interactive ideas bored me a lot really.

Label info : http://prophasemusic.com/km.aspx
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