Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Gerogerigegege - Tokyo Anal Dynamite (1990)

| Harsh Noise | Japanese Ultra Shit Band |

"Fuck compose, Fuck melody, Dedicated to no one, Thanks to no one, ART IS OVER".
-Juntaro Yamanouchi

Easily the most infamous and well known release from the gerogerigegege, this one really just can't be beat, no pun intended. A little bit more than half an hour long, this album ought to come with its own built-in safety belt. If the album cover (a line of naked punk looking cartoons all simultaneously vomiting and shitting in unison) doesn't prepare you for the album, then hopefully this review will. It is basically a live recording from 1987 that is indexed into 75 (!) separate tracks. Absolutely no track is more than 1 minute long. Juntaro is listed as playing NOISE BASS and another person is listed as playing both drums and vocals. The liner notes are fairly confusing even though there is not much written to begin with aside from who is playing and when it was recorded.

This cd is generally considered to be one of the most important and highly significant releases of the entire Japanese noise scene. Even though there were about 3000 copies pressed worldwide, it seems to be one of the more difficult gero releases to get a hold of. Every song follows the same formula: "___(insert Japanese curse word, phrase, etc.)__" then a count off into short spastic bursts of pure punk-driven dissonance. Every song title is generally screamed in japanese with the occasional American cover song thrown in. Although this has always been pointed out in other reviews of this same album, hearing Juntaro (or whoever) scream, "boys-a don't-a cry!" (the cure) or "I can't-a getta no satis-a-FAK-tion!" (rolling stones) actually IS completely worth whatever amount of money one is willing to spend on obtaining this obscure gem. At one point, Juntaro screams his own name and counts off only to end the song after 20 seconds to scream his name again BACKWARDS. It is completely hysterical. Near the end of the cd, there are more drawn out feedback drones and less screaming, due to obvious reasons that one could assume.

The production is very gruff, although one can make out the drums quite well and the feedback and/or bass add an another layer of sound. There is not much left to say other than the fact that this is THE quintessential gerogerigegege release.

Catalog: VCD3 (Vis A Vis Audio Arts)
Album overview on Artnotart
On Last.fm
Download

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Brian Eno - Ambient 1: Music For Airports (1978)

| Ambient | Experimental Synth-Electronic |

Ambient pioneer, glam rocker, hit producer, multimedia artist, technological innovator, worldbeat proponent, and self-described non-musician -- over the course of his long, prolific, and immensely influential career, Brian Eno was all of these things and much, much more. Determining his creative pathways with the aid of a deck of instructional, tarot-like cards called Oblique Strategies, Eno championed theory over practice, serendipity over forethought, and texture over craft; in the process, he forever altered the ways in which music is approached, composed, performed, and perceived, and everything from punk to techno to new age bears his unmistakable influence.

Ambient 1: Music for Airports is a giant leap forward in music history. A genre defining, and perhaps one of the most important albums ever made, Music for Airports is the prime early record of ambient music. Consisting of "Four Long Paintings In Form Of Music", it carries a very easy and light atmosphere during all its duration. With Piano loops, that repeats itself emotionally during the whole song, short synths, that add helps add the magic of the album, and low-volume structures, this evolving pieces gently and charmingly attack the listener's subconsciousness and drowns him into its beautifulness. A perfect album, in very all aspects.

On Last.Fm

Download

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Cure - Disintegration (1989)

| Gothic Rock | Post-Punk | Alternative Rock |

"I think it's dark and it looks like rain..."

Disintegration is doubtlessly The Cure's Masterpiece (other albums). It's the culmination of all musical directions Robert Smith was pursuing over with The Cure. A darkly seductive, gloomy and emotional album, filled completely of hypnotic and mesmerizing epic songs. With not a single bad song in it, Disintegration stands as one of the most amazing albums ever produced. Recorded on a highly depressive atmosphere, where the band was suffering and almost breaking up, and the member's where having lots of issues with alcohol and drugs, Disintegration is a album that don't disguise its doomed feeling. Smith treats every moment with sadness, crying and tears, even the happy and passionate ones. Every song feels desolate and hopeless, but not in a silly or childish way. The suffering here feels real in every note, every word, and every moment the impression given is that Robert is actually breaking in tears behind the mic.

Every single song here is beyond perfection. Starting with the desolate Plainsong, a huge affair to the feelings and memories that the rain bestow to our hearts. The cymbal rush sounds like little waterdrops, slowly dripping and crashing like tears on the floor. "And the wind is blowing like it's the end of the world".
Pictures of You
is one of the most emotional and romantic songs I've ever listened to. Despite its gloomy and sad atmosphere, it has a very upbeat structure, and the composition stands as beautiful as the lyrics. Always makes me cry. "There was nothing in the world/that I ever wanted more/than to feel you deep in my heart."
Closedown is a very haunted song, and it almost sounds like a suicidal one, though Robert Smith wisely uses abstracted and ambiguous lyrics in order to stride from foolishness or silly sad songs. "I'm running out of time/I'm out of step and/Closing down...".
Lovesong
is one of the most amazing crystals in here. The shorter song, it calls Smiths deepest feelings. A real declaration of utter love. Submitting himself to the special person, who he puts upon a pedestal and claims to be the only happiness he ever found in life, he sings straightly and with the open chest about and only about love. True and completely love. But even this passionate poetry has a very melancholic feeling, and one can always feels the helpless desolation proclaimed here. "I will always love you,/I will always love you."
Last Dance is a song now about the long gone love. A relationship that falls in cracks and shatters into little pieces, slowly, while it's tried to mask the unfulfillment. "I'm so glad you came/I'm so glad you remembered/To see how we're ending/Our last dance together"
Lullaby is one of their gothic-er songs. A beautiful piece of sharp strings arrangement, with sinister whispered vocals and a macabre and terrifying story. "For it's much too late to get away or turn on the light"
Fascination Street holds a very angered feeling, intertwined with a somewhat sensual atmosphere and, of course, broken hearts.
Prayers for Rain
has a very awesome main riff, and is one of the most desperate songs in here. Desolate and gone-lunatic lyrics, in where all hope and hope and sanity is simply destroyed by a suffocating romance. "You fracture me/Your hands on me/A touch so plain/So stale it kills"
The Same Deep Water As You is one of the most beautiful songs of the century. Anger takes place to passion, and though the whole atmosphere is sad and hard to breathe, filled with failings and cracked feelings everywhere, it still clings hard to love. And in spite of everything, "...we shall be together" is singed constantly.
Disintegration then takes the anger back, though this time, the table turns. Smith sings inspiredly as a heartbreaker with no regret. "I never said I would stay to the end" he shouts frenetically.
Homesick has a nice and far guitar, and is the most distant song in the album (in a good way). Although keeping the melancholy still, this song is maybe the lighter in the whole album. "Oh just one more/And I'll walk away/All the everything you win/Turns to nothing today".
Untitled has a very touching synth use, and brings back the self-depreciation and the hopelessness. Despite its upbeat atmosphere, Robert Smith's lyrics and singing keeps the lost love as self-destroying and grief as possible. "Never quite managed the words to explain to you/Never quite knew how to make them believable/And now the time has gone".

"I'll never lose this pain
Never dream of you again"

On Last.fm
Download

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Hijokaidan ( 非常階段 ) - Zouroku No Kibyou ( 蔵六の奇病 ) (1982)

| Harsh Noise | Psychedelic |

This is maybe one of Hijokaidan's most popular records (other albums here). It's pretty intense, though some songs aren't very much noisy as they should be (we're talking about the 'King of Noise', Hijokaidan, after all). It isn't very much consistent, it's much more a compilation of live tracks recorded around. Despite, the album has a very wicked and harsh atmosphere.

The opening track is my favorite here, though I don't think it's pretty much a 'track'. It consists of 1:20min of a guy vomiting. I love the ending, when people start clapping to his vomit ahaha. The second track is very noisy, but the third is just some weird psychedelic song. The other tracks sound like attempts to produce real songs, where they just give up at some point and fill those with a fucking loud noise. It's a nice record, showing Hijokaidan's psychedelic moves, but not as noisy as I think it should be.

Catalog: OUT-4 (Unbalance)
On Last.fm
Download

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Shizuka ( 静香 ) - Live Shizuka (1995)

| Psychedelic Rock | Noise Rock |

Another shinny gem from the japanese underground scene, this Live record is Shizuka's second CD (Discography). Though their early sound has much more approach to the psychedelic rock than to the experimental or noise rock, one can feel the enhancement from their roots on this album. The characteristic melancholy is still everywhere around, and though most of the songs follow the same pattern of 'melancholic instrumental - sad vocals - angry guitar solo bursting everything around', it's a very consistent record and every track sounds special in their way.

"Glass Ribbon Unraveled" is maybe the portrait of "Live Shizuka". The song grows slowly and moody from oceanic guitar strums and affectioned vocal into a very loud and explosive solo. "Heavenly Persona" version here is much more incredible than the album version, with an extended solo and a very nice bass line. "Planning for Loneliness" is exactly how the title suggest, maybe the most calm and emotional song in the whole album, and the longest one too. Though it doesn't grow as furious as other tracks, holding the melancholy and sadness during the whole song, it's maybe the most beautiful in "Live Shizuka".

Catalog: PNG-1 (Persona Non Grata)
On Last.fm
Download

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Hijokaidan ( 非常階段 ) - Modern (1989)

| Harsh Noise |

After weeks and weeks of search, I've finally got my hands in this gem. Modern is basically the same output of Romance, a huge 74min mind-fucker monster of noise, Hijokaidan at its best (other albums here).

This 'song' is one of the most loud things I've ever heard in life. You can feel all the rage and destruction even if you put the volume at the lowest. Screams everywhere, high-pitched buzz mixed with lots of blasting distortion, it's hard to believe that we have only a guitar and a bass on this (in fact, it's hard to believe that those 'things' are really a guitar and bass). Despite, I still like Romance more, maybe because of its volcanic electronics. Still, Modern feels a lot more raw and uncontrollable, and has lots more of spirit than Romance.

Catalog: ARCD-004 (Alchemy Records)
On Last.fm
Download

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - Light And Darkness Melting Into One Vibration (2003)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Classical Guitar |
| Free-Jazz |


With 70-minute, Hikari Yami Uchitokeaishi Konohibiki contains three long tracks of Keiji Haino going solo on the acoustic guitar with nary a melody or a vocal chord in sight (Haino's other albums). We’re talking straight-up free improvisation here, people! Featuring sections of almost meditative quiet that are rudely interrupted by dry, dissonant juts and jabs–plus all kinds of abstract, complex picking sprinkled all over the place–the playing on this album is obviously influenced by free improv pioneer Derek Bailey without sounding like an outright bite.

My favorite track is the 3rd. Ranging through 22min, it's passionate non-pattern strikes with both silence and noise. While resting and feeling the air at some instants, on others Keiji delivers a huge blast of string-breakers strums. This song is completely about the feeling, and improvisation takes higher degrees on the whole album.

Catalog: PSFD-8017 (P.S.F. Records)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

The Jesus And Mary Chain - Psychocandy (1985)

| Noise Rock | Post-Punk | Alternative Rock |
| Shoegaze |


Like the Velvet Underground, their most obvious influence, the chart success of the Jesus and Mary Chain was virtually nonexistent, but their artistic impact was incalculable; quite simply, the British group made the world safe for white noise, orchestrating a sound dense in squalling feedback which served as an inspiration to everyone from My Bloody Valentine to Dinosaur Jr. Though the supporting players drifted in and out of focus, the heart of the Mary Chain remained vocalists and guitarists William and Jim Reid, Scottish-born brothers heavily influenced not only by underground legends like the Velvets and the Stooges but also by the sonic grandeur and pop savvy of Phil Spector and Brian Wilson. In the Jesus and Mary Chain, which the Reids formed outside of Glasgow in 1984 with bassist Douglas Hart and drummer Murray Dalglish (quickly replaced by Bobby Gillespie), these two polarized aesthetics converged; equal parts bubblegum and formless guitar distortion, their sound both celebrated pop conventions and thoroughly subverted them.

Arguably Psychocandy is an album with one trick and one trick alone -- Beach Boys melodies meet Velvet Underground feedback and beats, all cranked up to ten and beyond, along with plenty of echo. However, what a trick it is. Following up on the promise of the earliest singles, the Jesus and Mary Chain with Psychocandy arguably created a movement without meaning to, one that itself caused echoes in everything from bliss-out shoegaze to snotty Britpop and back again. The best tracks were without question those singles, anti-pop yet pure pop at the same time: "Just Like Honey," starting off like the Ronettes heard in a canyon and weirdly beautiful with its bells, "You Trip Me Up" and its slinking sense of cool, and most especially "Never Understand." Storming down like a rumble of bricks wrapped in cotton candy and getting more and more frenetic at the end, when there's nothing but howls and screaming noise, it's one hell of a track. However, at least in terms of sheer sonic violence and mayhem, most of the other cuts were pretty hard to beat, as sprawling, amped-up messes like "The Living End" (which later inspired both a band and a movie title) and "In a Hole." "My Little Underground" is actually the secret gem on the album, with a great snarling guitar start, an almost easygoing melody and a great stuttering chorus -- not quite the Who but not quite anything else. What the Reids sing about -- entirely interchangeable combinations regarding girls, sex, drugs, speed, and boredom in more or less equal measure -- is nothing compared to the perfectly disaffected way those sentiments are delivered. Bobby Gillespie's "hit the drums and then hit them again" style makes Moe Tucker seem like Neil Peart, but arguably in terms of sheer economy he doesn't need to do any more.

On Last.fm
Album Overview on AllMusic
Download

Monday, September 21, 2009

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - Reveal'd To None As Yet - An Expedience To Utterly Vanquish Consciousness While Still Alive (2006)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Electronic | Noise |
| Psychedelic | Drone |
Experimental Hurdy-Gurdy |

Recorded live in Japan at Super Deluxe on April 7, 2005 and mastered by fellow experimental guitarist James Plotkin, Reveal’d to None as Yet is a fancy pants two-disc set released by, appropriately enough, two different American psych / noise labels, aRCHIVE and Important. Now, that’s entertainment! I mean collaboration! (Haino's other albums)

Disc one is packed to the gills with one long track full of Keiji Haino brutalizing the theremin-like air synth that we first encountered on his similar Tangled up In the Universe, My Pain album, which was released earlier in 2005 on PSF. Once again, the listener is battered by a whole airplane hangar’s worth of craggy, whining, sputtering electronic mayhem. But, this time, Haino’s occasional mysterious vocal cords add an air of instant familiarity to the hectic proceedings. All kinds of reverberant bass drum samples boom away as muffled tornadoes, menacing swirling dervishes and headache-inducing scouring pads unfurl all over the place. And it’s all supported by the most grating drones this side of Cluster’s gaseous explosions.

On the second disc, Haino continues the hurdy gurdy drone fest atmosphere that first appeared on his PSF album The 21st Century Hard-y Guide-y Man back in 1995. Providing some really pleasant counterpoint to the chaos of disc one, the ebb and flow of the sound fabric here is, surprisingly, occasionally halted and replaced with knocks upon the instrument’s body and a few choice string plucks. This novel stop ‘n’ go action is the exception, though, as the shrill, raspy string fluctuations and pillow hoverings on cloud nine meshed with Haino’s gently cooing vocals continue unabated for most of the track’s duration.

Catalog: archive14+15, imprec074 (aRCHIVE, Important Records)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

The Smiths - Strangeways, Here We Come (1987)

| Post-Punk | Alternative Rock | Indie Rock |

Recorded as the relationship between Morrissey and Johnny Marr was beginning to splinter, Strangeways, Here We Come is the most carefully considered and elaborately produced album in the group's catalog (other albums here). Though it aspires greatly to better "The Queen Is Dead", it falls just short of its goals. With producer Stephen Street, the Smiths created a subtly shaded and skilled album, one boasting a fuller production than before. Morrissey and Marr also labored hard over the songs, working to expand the Smiths' sound within their very real boundaries. For the most part, they succeed.

"I Started Something I Couldn't Finish," "Girlfriend in a Coma," "Stop Me if You Think You've Heard This One Before," and "I Won't Share You" are classics, while "A Rush and a Push and the Land Is Ours," "Death of a Disco Dancer," and "Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me" aren't far behind. However, the songs also have a tendency to be glib and forced, particularly on "Unhappy Birthday" and the anti-record company "Paint a Vulgar Picture," which has grown increasingly ironic in the wake of the Smiths' and Morrissey's love of repackaging the same material in new compilations. Still, "Strangeways" is a graceful way to bow out. While it doesn't match "The Queen Is Dead", it is far from embarrassing and offers a summation of the group's considerable strengths.

On Last.fm
Album Overview on AllMusic
Download

The Smiths - The Smiths (1984)

| Post-Punk | Alternative Rock | Indie Rock |

Arriving in an era dominated by synth pop and gloomy post-punk, the Smiths' eponymous debut was the bracing beginning of a new era (other albums here). On the surface, the Smiths' sound wasn't radically different from traditional British guitar pop -- Johnny Marr's ringing, layered guitars were catchy and melodic -- but it was actually an astonishing subversion of the form, turning the structure inside out. Very few of the songs followed conventional verse-chorus structure, yet they were quite melodic within their own right. Marr's inventive songwriting was made all the more original and innovative by Morrissey's crooning and lyrics. Writing about unconventional topics, from homosexuality, love, modern life to child molestation and murder, Morrissey had a distinctively ironic, witty, and literate viewpoint whose strangeness was accentuated by his off-kilter voice, which would move from a croon to a yelp in a matter of seconds. While the production of The Smiths is a little pristine, the songs are vital and alive, developing a new, unique voice within pop music. Though the Smiths continued to improve over the course of their career, their debut remains startling and exciting.

On Last.fm
Album Overview on AllMusic
Download

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Smiths - Meat Is Murder (1985)

| Post-Punk | Alternative Rock | Indie Rock |

With their second proper album Meat Is Murder, the Smiths begin to branch out and diversify, while refining the jangling guitar pop of their debut (other albums here). Though this isn't a great leap forward on lyrical and musical ideas like on "The Queen Is Dead", it stands as one of their most popular and expressive albums.

Taking the epic, layered "How Soon Is Now?" as a starting point (the single, which is darker and more dance-oriented than the remainder of the album, was haphazardly inserted into the middle of the album for its American release), the group crafts more sweeping, mid-tempo numbers, whether it's the melancholy "That Joke Isn't Funny Anymore" or the angered protest as on "Meat Is Murder" or "Barbarism Begins At Home". While the production is more detailed than before, the Smiths are at their best when they stick to their strengths -- "The Headmaster Ritual" and "I Want the One I Can't Have" are fine elaborations of the formula they laid out on the debut, while "Rusholme Ruffians" is an infectious stab at rockabilly.

On Last.fm
Album Overview on AllMusic
Download

The Smiths - The Queen Is Dead (1986)

| Post-Punk | Alternative Rock | Indie Rock |

The Smiths were the definitive British indie rock band of the '80s, marking the end of synth-driven new wave and the beginning of the guitar rock that dominated English rock into the '90s. Sonically, the group was indebted to the British Invasion, crafting ringing, melodic three-minute pop singles, even for their album tracks. But their scope was far broader than that of a revivalist band. The group's core members, vocalist Morrissey and guitarist Johnny Marr, were obsessive rock fans inspired by the D.I.Y. ethics of punk, but they also had a fondness for girl groups, pop, and rockabilly. Morrissey and Marr also represented one of the strangest teams of collaborators in rock history. Marr was the rock traditionalist, looking like an elegant version of Keith Richards during the Smiths' heyday and meticulously layering his guitar tracks in the studio. Morrissey, on the other hand, broke from rock tradition by singing in a keening, self-absorbed croon, embracing the forlorn, romantic poetry of Oscar Wilde, publicly declaring his celibacy, performing with a pocketful of gladioli and a hearing aid, and making no secret of his disgust for most of his peers. While it eventually led to the Smiths' early demise, the friction between Morrissey and Marr resulted in a flurry of singles and albums over the course of three years that provided the blueprint for British guitar rock in the following decade.

"Meat Is Murder" may have been a holding pattern, but "The Queen Is Dead" is the Smiths' great leap forward, taking the band to new musical and lyrical heights. Opening with the storming title track, The Queen Is Dead is a harder-rocking record than anything the Smiths had attempted before, but that's only on a relative scale -- although the backbeat is more pronounced, the group certainly doesn't rock in a conventional sense. Instead, Johnny Marr has created a dense web of guitars, alternating from the minor-key rush of "Bigmouth Strikes Again" and the faux rockabilly of "Vicar in a Tutu" to the bouncy acoustic pop of "Cemetry Gates" and "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side," as well as the lovely melancholy of "I Know It's Over" and "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out." And the rich musical bed provides Morrissey with the support for his finest set of lyrics. Shattering the myth that he is a self-pitying sap, Morrissey delivers a devastating set of clever, witty satires of British social mores, intellectualism, class, and even himself. He also crafts some of his finest, most affecting songs, particularly in the wistful "The Boy With the Thorn in His Side" and the epic "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out," two masterpieces that provide the foundation for a remarkable album.

On Last.fm
Album Overview on AllMusic
Download

Melt-Banana - Scratch Or Stitch (1996)

| Noise Rock | Punk Rock | Experimental Rock |

Melt-Banana is a noisecore band from Japan, containing some punk elements: shrieking vocals, overdriven guitars, and one-and-a-half-minute songs. Melt Banana's unique style, however, comes as a result of the distinctly piercing vocals of lead singer Yasuko O., as well as the frenzied, effect-charged playing of guitarist Agata. Searing, intense, and mind-blowing fast are perhaps the first adjectives that come to mind when listening to Melt Banana's music.

"Scratch or Stitch" is one of their best album, filled with energy and electricity everywhere. "Plot In A Pot" is a fucking quick song, where she seems to be yelling "FAPFAPFAP" like crazy ahhaha. "Sick ZiP Everywhere" is maybe the best from the album, filled of guitar-noise and with a monstrously cool bass! "Ketchup-Mess" and "DIG Out!" are other great tunes. In fact, the album is mostly consisting of short 1min songs, so the album feels more like a 'whole' than 'sepate songs'. And this is a crazy (in all aspects) fucking awesome album!

Catalog: GR 34, NUX-D14 (Skin Graft Records, Nux Organization)
On Last.fm
Download

John Cage - In a Landscape (1995)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Piano |
| Contemporary Classical |


Even after his death, John Cage remains a controversial figure. Famously challenging the very notion of what music is, Cage remained on the leading edge of both playful and profound experimentalism for the greater part of his career, collaborating with and influencing generations of composers, writers, dancers, and visual artists. One of his best-known and most sonically intriguing innovations, the prepared piano, had become an almost commonplace compositional resource by the end of the twentieth century. Years before the invention of the synthesizer, he was in the forefront in the exploration of electric and electronic sound sources, using oscillators, turntables, and amplification to musical ends. He pioneered the use of graphic notation and, in employing chance operations to determine musical parameters, was the leading light for one cadre of the avant-garde that included Morton Feldman, Christian Wolff, Earle Brown, and Pauline Oliveros. Cage produced works of "performance art" years before the term was coined, and his 4'33'', in which the three movements are performed without playing a single note, takes a place among the most notorious touchstones of twentieth century music.

This album is a collection of some of his prepared piano works. "In a Landscape" is a dreamy song beautiful as hell. The tonal oddity of this piece is that all the notes are contained in two octaves. One of the two uses a mode based on B flat, while the other octave has only notes of a mode in the key of G. Shifts from one octave to another create a bitonal effect that creates a momentary impression of being out of tune, which gives In a Landscape a uniquely haunting quality. "Suite for Toy Piano" is highly influenced by the simplicity of Erik Satie's compositions. Cage uses incomplete scales and limit his toy piano to only five notes at some movements. Despite of all this limitation, the result is stunning. "Bacchanale" is my favorite from this album, a song that uses a highly prepared piano, full of bolts, nuts, washers, strips of paper and rubber muting objects attached to the piano strings, making every note sound completely unique.

Beyond beautiful.

Catalog: 09026 61980 2 (Catalyst)
On Last.fm
Download

High Rise - Dispersion (1992)

| Psychedelic Rock | Noise Rock | Garage Rock |

Dispersion is another live-studio recording from the 'psychedelic speed freaks' High Rise (other albums here). Though it doesn't sound as loud and as fast as their "Live" or "II" stuff, here we have great performances from their most psychedelic songs.

"Outside Gentiles" is my favorite track from all their discography. A stunning fast and loud song, though I like the "Live" version more. "Sanctuary" is a stand-out, a not-so-fast track, with a cool distorted guitar riff, and calm singing. It's a strange song, if you take the fact that we're listening to High Rise, but it's a great song in overall. "Mainliner" is explosive as hell here, with furious solos attacking everywhere. "Nuit" is a very dense, despite being short, song, with a awesome heavy bass line. "Deuteronomy" is another awesome track, starting with a sorrowful and lonely guitar line, followed then by a bass as heavy as fuck and a slow, strong and loud drumming attack. The song grows in a fucking awesome way, that always makes me shiver, into lots of noisy and sharp improvisation.

Catalog: PSFD-26 (P.S.F. Records)
On Last.fm
Download

Kousokuya ( 光束夜 ) - Ray Night 1991-1992 Live (1995)

| Psychedelic Rock | Stoner Rock | Noise Rock |

This is the second album by the legendary Kousokuya (other albums). A live record, as the name suggests. It shows the enhancement the group has got since their 1st album, with songs strong as an earthquake. Kaneko's guitar sounds more terrifying, with lots of sparse and atmospheric solos and heavy distorted riffs. Despite being a little less experimental than the debut, it's pretty more consistent, and still holds their characteristic sound-deformation and afterworld soundscapes.

"Ray" is my favorite here, a very slow and progressive song, with a heavy bass riff, screaming guitars everywhere (sometimes sounding like Kaneko is actually occupying the whole stage), a consistent cymbal rush on the drums and Maki's tortured vocals escaping all around. "The Omen" is another amazing one, with a explosive and wicked bass and lots of reverb-attack and harsh guitar passages, and a very 'stoner rock' drums. And of course, Maki's awesome vocals.

Catalog: FE-034 (Forced Exposure)
On Last.fm
Download

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - Global Ancient Atmosphere (2005)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Percussion |
| Psychedelic |


"Konokehai Fujirareteru Hajimarini" ("Global Ancient Atmosphere", or sometimes noted as "These Signs, A Sealed Beginning") is another percussion album (Haino's other albums here), this time a lot more experimental and less 'dark' or 'atmospheric' than "Tenshi no Gijinka" or "C'est Parfait". This is a live record, with no overdubbing, but with some 'realtime-loops' (but not as much as on "C'est Parfait") and a somekind of reverb and delay on the drumkit (yeah, it sounds as strange as it seems to be). The tracks are very spaced out, and Haino hits the drums with as much fury as precision. Silence is a important feature on this album, and if you turn the volume really high, you can hear the cymbals reverberating very lowly on the background, which is terrifically beautiful.

"A Warning and a Request No. 7" is my personal favorite, with a mix of desert-cymbals and very low-pitched strums, and a, somewhat, late rhythmical mess. No.6 is a incredibly massive song, and sound like a complete destruction of the drumkit. No. 3 is very intense, and at the end there's plenty use of electronic effects on the beat, that add a very chaotic experience to this album.

And that is indeed a beautiful copper-ish cover of Haino and his bizarre drumkit.

Catalog: PSFD-8021 (P.S.F. Records)
On Last.fm
Download

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - Tangled Up In The Universe, My Pain (2005)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Electronic | Noise |
| Psychedelic | Drone |

Promoted as Keiji Haino’s first all-electronic album, the title of this CD, Uchu Ni Karami Tsuiteiru Waga Itami, means Tangled Up in the Universe, My Pain in English (Haino's other albums). Flailing his hands about like an electrocuted spider monkey on coffee and meth, Haino conducts a symphony of aural mayhem that sounds for all the world as if it’s blasting from a rag-tag collection of vintage analog gear. But, surprisingly, it’s not. His wild arm and body movements play themselves out over a couple of modern day theremin-like digital instruments called the air synth and air FX. Although the proceedings often recall the more chaotic moments of old school ’50s electronics alternating with ’80s dark industrial soundscapes, the results are still infused with quite a taste of Haino–despite the lack of his instantly recognizable vocals.

All sorts of low-pitched drones, eerie slide whistle-like whisps, background twitters, gritty feedback, plaintive drips, corroded Wild West shootouts and blurry sandstorms consort to form a bona fide room-clearing electronic nightmare.

Catalog: PSFD-8020 (P.S.F. Records)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - Saying I Love You, I Continue To Curse Myself (1996)

| Avant-Garde | Noise Rock | Experimental Rock |
| Experimental Rudra Vina |


This is another live recording by the japanese dark wizard (Haino's other albums) containing two long tracks of solo guitar and voice that meld into universal sound expansion.

The first track is a torrential, 43-minute cyclone of effects pedal warehouse and towering amp carnage that is so corroded with heavy voltage low-end crumble and insanely ascending high-end wail–all assembled with human spark spontaneity and smeared logic intuition–that it just left me sitting shaking my head in disbelief. And that’s even after listening to all of his other releases many times, which is kind of shocking. Track two is an 18-minute descent into ultra low-tuned rudra vina activity with beautiful, melancholy vocals fading in and out as the strings threaten to fall off at any second.

Catalog: BFFP 109 CD (Blast First)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Hijokaidan ( 非常階段 ) - Sound Of The Sea (1997)

| Harsh Noise |

Another album from the japanese noise-monster Hijokaidan (check previous releases from them here), this one is a short 7" Vinyl. Well, what to say? Very very very Harsh Noise. Well, Hijokaidan really deserves they reputation. Masami Akita (well, if you don't even know who this guy is, you shouldn't be looking for this cd first of all... anyway, mostly known as Merzbow) is here again, on Drums. That's quiet funny, because underneath all the noise-wall you can barely hear a drum.

This is a quiet (quiet?) fine record. Maybe not one of their best, but still a nice two-tracks short record. Worth listening, for noise fans of course...

Catalog: Xn Recordings 003 (Xn Recordings)
On Last.fm
Download

Friday, September 18, 2009

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - The 21st Century Hard-Y-Guide-Y Man - The Plot To Disappear From This Person (2008)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Hurdy-Gurdy | Noise |
| Drone | Experimental Percussion |


With the original japanese title of "Koitsukara Usetaitameno Hakarigoto", this is the last album from the Hurdy Gurdy trilogy "The 21st Century Hard-Y-Guide-Y Man" (Haino's other albums). Now we have five tracks, mostly 10min, instead of one giant as on "Even Now, Still I Think". This album is even more experimental than the previous, holding a giant midnight drone cloud with electrical stormy improvisation. Haino pushes the hurdy gurdy to the limit here, and break all the chains that lock him to our world, transcending to a spiritual realm and relieving its ambience deep into our minds. This album has some ambient sounds floating around, like doors closing, steps on the thin water, and more mysterious and unrecognizable noises, and it's the first on the trilogy to feature percussion, very bizarre and Haino-ish percussion.

The 1st track is a very heavy and dark piece, noisy, with low and high hurdy gurdy screams that gives to it a very ghostly sound. The 2nd is a very melodic piece, filled with a harsh drones on the background, further getting very furious, noisy and guitar-y, and then changing to some experimental percussion with a light and muted strings accompaniment at the very end. The 3rd is a loud ear-bleeding song, with high-pitched drones and some mauling improvisation, all soaked into a dense 20min noisewall. The 4th is a crystally melody improvisation, with light structure and a nice reverb, and also a small feedback, into it. There's a fine random percussion passage again, sounding like tribal drumming a bit. The 5th and last track is a heavy and massive song, with some haunting drone and agonizing horse-like hurdy gurdy screams, filled with a grave percussion, that sounds more like a ship tearing and sinking or an earthquake than actually a percussion piece... And I swear I can hear a woman laughing for a short time, underneath all this destruction.

So bad the cover does not follow the same pattern of the previous albums... that was a really nice cover desing. Despite, I like the dense gray used here.

Catalog: PSFD-8029 (P.S.F. Records)
On Last.fm
Download

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - The 21st Century Hard-Y-Guide-Y Man - Even Now, Still I Think (1998)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Hurdy-Gurdy | Drone |
| Noise |


This is a follow-up to The 21st Century Hard-y Guide-y Man (Haino's other albums), this is the part 2 of the trilogy. Instead of four really long tracks of viscous hurdy gurdy drone as before, this time there’s only one ridiculously long one, punchin’ in at 72 minutes. But, it’s a nice long one. A slowly ringing, pulsing, hovering sound-glacier effortlessly finds and devines its way into an hour and more of your living section. Some subtly piercing vocals occasionally float in and out, as well. All in all, one can basically consider this CD another deep notch carved into the big-banging Keiji Haino CD shelf.

Catalog: TKCF-77023 (Tokuma Japan Communications)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - The 21st Century Hard-Y-Guide-Y Man (1995)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Hurdy-Gurdy | Drone |
| Noise |


The 73 minutes of space on this CD (Haino's other albums) are all filled up with four long hurdy gurdy (check wikipedia) drones that effortlessly form absolutely beautiful, drifting, sunset clouds. Ranging from long, floaty tones that sparkle and shimmer as the fabric of reality crackles with life and dances around you to more severe shards of shrill twine and pissed vocal bites, this is yet another sonic monster from the hands of one of planet Earth’s master musicians who seems to wrench magic from almost everything he touches.

The most beautiful track is for sure the 4th, filled with Keiji's unique vocals and a very atmospheric hurdy-gurdy noisy improvisation. The 1st is a shimmering high-pitched song, and the 2nd is the most ghostly and misty, and my favorite, besides the 4th. The 3rd track is a huge drone piece, followed by some lonely improvisation.

A heavily recommended for fans of experimental music—a must-hear, ya hear?

Catalog: PSFD-68 (P.S.F. Records)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - Watashi Dake? (1993) [1981 reissue]

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Rock | Psychedelic Rock |
| Noise Rock |


This is a 1993 reissue of a rare, obscure, Japanese LP from 1981 (for Haino other albums, check out here). This is a set of early recordings and debuts many of the crude elements of Haino’s technique that would more fully blossom a decade later.

The first track, "My Whereabouts", maintains a very quiet area of contemplation occasionally interjected with intense shouts, whispers and coos—all accented with Haino’s copyrighted feedback microphone. Tracks 2 through 12 are mostly in the shorter range, featuring Haino solo on guitar and voice. The sounds range from spare pick-to-string hits and scrapes with solemn vocals, soft singing with occasional guitar tangles, mangled feedback noise with shouted vocals, the appearance of a strange and low-pitched string instrument, sparse string fluctuations with beautiful singing, shy guitar noodling with short shouts, muffled ’n’ stumbled strums with high-pitched vocal interjections and plenty of quiet muffled rhythms.

By far the highlight of this CD reissue is track 13, "Sacrifice": a previously unreleased, ultra-wide, infinity-splaying, 28-minute reality canvas of ridiculously overloaded, squealing guitar feedback and supremely scalding, amp-cutting, ear drum-molesting lift-off + white-out of exploding sound embers and ever-spreading auditory flurries of uncertain origin. Not to mention occasional intoned vocals from beyond the abyss. Recorded in 1981, this is a prime, early example of Keiji Haino operating within his own perfect, personal vacuum–a spontaneous masterpiece of no-thought-only-action activity.

All tracks unofficially translated from the Japanese LP titles.

Catalog: 1981 original: PRL#2 (Pinakotheca) | 1993 reissue: PSFD-38 (P.S.F. Records)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Thoughts on Air - Deep Wood Society (2007)

| Experimental | Psychedelic Folk | Ambient | Noise |

Thoughts on Air is a experimental-psychedelic project by Scott Johnson, from Canada. Basically, it consists of psychedelic-guitar passages, distorted soft vocals and electronics spawning around.

Deep Wood Society spans through minimal folk ("Warmth of the Blizzard"), ambient ("Branch"), noise ("Doglife") , experimental passages ("untitled" songs) and guitar drone ("Stroke of Luck"), all embraced by a very soft psychedelic atmosphere. Even though the experimental environment, it's a very consistent record. The tracks "Climbing the Germs", "High Beams" and "Peace Time" are also fine songs, but my favorite is "The Slightest", a stunning mix of noise and moody ambient with stirring vocals and a wonderful psychedelic soundscape, though the abrupt end makes it lose a little of its touch.

Deep Wood Society is a beautiful piece of melancholy, and always makes my days feel a little more comfortable.

On Last.fm
Download

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Asahito Nanjo ( 南条麻人 ) - Greed (2004)

| Avant-Garde | Psychedelic Rock | Experimental Rock |

Asahito Nanjo is a Japanese underground musician, best known for his psychedelic rock groups High Rise, Mainliner and Musica Transonic, and the ethnic improvisation unit Toho Sara. He has been active on the Tokyo underground scene since the late seventies, and is regarded as one of the most important figures from the avant-garde Japan.

His solo album is a mysterious piece of psychedelic music, mostly instrumental. Strong bass lines and distant ghostly guitars fill this album mystical atmosphere. Although both songs are slow and calm, they feel a little nervous on the inside, maybe because of the percussion used and the agonized guitars. His voice is soft and full of reverb, what adds a little more mist to it. "Greed" has the participation of some other great musicians, like Makoto Kawabata, with whom Asahito plays on Mainliner. The first track sounds finer, with some change of moods and some more aggressive parts, though the result is mainly a bizarre and mysterious calm song, just like the second.

Catalog: SSW 813 (Sparkling Spare Wheel)
On Last.fm
Download

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - Execration That Accept To Aknowledge (1993)

| Avant-Garde | Noise Rock | Experimental Rock |

Sometimes noted as "Execration that accept to knowledge", this is one of my favorite records from Keiji (check out Haino's other albums here). A 42min experimentation through improvisation on the guitar. One of his most noisy songs, this is a live record that uses no overdubbing. Just Keiji and his guitar. And that combination does pretty much enough damage.

The first five minutes, especially, contain star-pupil material in the form of white-hot blasts of wide guitar noise, from incredibly high-pitched wails to ultra-low bomb rumbles and sub-aquatic ruptures. The grating feedback rhythms then combines with Haino's wretched vocal expectorations into a raw and dense electric whirlwind. The destruction stops and starts lots of time, but never take long enough for a deep breathe. Once start listening to this harsh mind-blowing track, you will be struck into its volcanic aggression. Execration that accept to Aknowledge is a good name for describing it. This demonic song is far from beautifulness, and that is just fine for Haino's standards.

Catalog: FE-032 (Forced Exposure)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Mainliner - Mellow Out (1996)

| Psychedelic Rock | Noise Rock |

Mainliner is a psychedelic-noise rock power-trio from Tokyo. The band started as a side project by Asahito Nanjo (High Rise frontman), and consists of Nanjo, the guitar-god Kawabata Makoto (Acid Mothers Temple leader) and the drummer Koji Shimura. They sound is a leap foward High Rise's, with Kawabata's heavy loud riffage and powerful overdrive, shrieking huge mind-blowing improvisation, Nanjo's earth strong and lightning fast bass and distorted vocals and Koji simply destroying the drumkit. They Self-described as "psychedelic solid free attack group", and that is a good description.

"Mellow Out" consists of three volcanic tracks, being the first "Cockamamie" more a kind of introduction (and a wildfire kind of introduction). The album's best piece is the gigantic "Black Sky", and for sure Mainliner's ultimate song. Nanjo sound like a furious monster on the bass, and Kawabata delivers one of the most eviscerating and brute solos I've ever heard. It's hard to believe sometimes that there are only three people on this band, for they sound like a million earthquakes altogether. "M" starts with a awesome drum solo, and is a song as strong and mind-blowing as "Black Sky". Sounds pretty much like a thousand supernovas exploding on the back of your head. An album with ten times more Overdrive than humanly bearable, "Mellow Out" will make your brain melt through your ears.

Catalog: CHCD-19 (Charnel Music)
On Last.fm
Download

Kousokuya ( 光束夜 ) - 1st [1990 reissue] (2003)

| Psychedelic Rock | Stoner Rock | Noise Rock |

Kousokuya is a japanese underground Psychedelic-Noise rock band. Founded by the legendary guitarist Jutok Kaneko in the late 1970s, Kousokuya has been compared to Fushitsusha (Keiji Haino's legendary band) and Les Rallizes Dénudés, and though they had been underrated in front of those bigger bands, now they're regarded as one of the most important bands at that time. Jutok guitar may not sound as aggressive or mad as Keiji Haino's, but his psychedelic-er approach and high improvisation has helped defining the Tokyo underground scene (and his style influenced most of the later bands, like High Rise).

Their first album (self-titled, but commonly called '1st') was recorded live on a studio during 1989-1990, and though it don't sound as aggressive and raw as their Live records, it holds the band's characteristic psychedelic improvised sound. Kaneko and Mick's vocals are singed highly and out of tune, the guitars are full of feedback, the bass holds a strong and repetitive line, but inconstant as it must, and the drums are highly experimental, full of hypnotic changes and rushes. And of course, Kaneko's guitar screams lots of solos during almost the whole songs, and his style has a unique sound, where he jump notes or change the tune, but without losing the essence or breaking the song.As recording engineer Honda Shigeto puts in the awkwardly-translated liner notes, "every single note was clear, it shrunk all the distance with its power."

Kaneko passed away on January 24th, 2007.

Catalog: 1990: RNM0001 (Ray Night Music) | 2003: PSFD-132 (P.S.F. Records)
Album overview on Dusted Reviews
On Last.fm
Download

Friday, September 11, 2009

Shizuka ( 静香 ) - Heavenly Persona (1994)

| Psychedelic Rock | Noise Rock |

Heavenly Persona is the debut album by the japanese psychedelic-noise rock band Shizuka. (for other albums, check out here.) It's a little more melancholic than the others, and a little less noisy, but it's a great album still. The songs sound little by little built with a crystal melody, instead of a raging noise improvisation. We still have enough noise on this, though, which makes this record pretty cool. Sadness is everywhere around, and sometimes it explodes on furious guitars, giving this album a huge emotional appeal.

The first track "Ten" might be the noisier and faster from this CD, though it doesn't sound as a full song, working just as a opening to the rest of the album. "Pandora's Box" is the finest on the whole album. A very melancholic piece, with glassy guitars and desolate vocals. It has a cold piano at the end, which makes this even more stunning. "Measuring loneliness" is another great song, and though it drags out a little during itself, it gets pretty impressive at the end, when Shizuka's vocals increases and Maki delivers a powerful mind-blowing guitar attack. "Crystal Wings" sounds exactly how the name suggests, and has a very very very cool Cello. "6g Star" has a nice melody and a beautiful Bass line, and grows aggressively throughout its way, though it doesn't explode at it's end, what is a little disappointing.

Catalog: PSFD-52 (P.S.F. Records)
On Last.fm
Download

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - Next, Let's Try Changing The Shape (2004)

| Avant-Garde | Ethereal | Experimental Rock |
| Psychedelic Rock | Noise Rock |

Picking up where "To Start With, Let's remove the Colour" left off (check out Haino's other albums here), "Next, Let's Try Changing The Shape" offers up an additional 70 minutes of lost-in-a-nocturnal-bog sound in the form of four long sides of off-kilter, guitar strum jabs and buried, intoning vocals–all cloaked in the most gigantic midnight Grand Canyon reverb and layered delay imaginable.

The album starts with a dark solo guitar track, but it only reach it's full level at the next one, "If all were 'If'", with a guitar that shimmers through Haino's spiritual midnight vocals, all soaked on a dense mist. On the next track "Surely Here Too There Is Something", Keiji plays a glassy-distorted guitar with the reverb at full and lots of ghostly feedback. "A Secret" is also a nice track, with Keiji doing some kind of whispered and haunting vocals over a repetitive guitar. "Is This Guidance Itself Some Kind Of Trap?" is a stunning song, with Haino crying his desolate vocals as cold as ice, accompanied by a lonely ghost-like guitar. But the best on the album is the last track, "Look, Darkness And Light Both Begin To Copy Each Other. If This Process Had Not Begun Now, Here Would Never Come Back To An End" (lol huge title is huge). It starts with a light guitar pattern with high delay, and Keiji add some cold and delicate vocals to it. It grows slowly through a bizarre solo, then Keiji delivers another verse, this time a little more cursed and intense, as the guitar gets more and more frenetic. The feedback increases and Haino does another haunted solo over his torment voice. The storm enhances into stunning vocals, over a now heavily distorted guitar fog. Beyond beautifulness.

Catalog: SFKH 001CD (Swordfish Records)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Derek Bailey - Ballads (2002)

| Avant-Garde | Free-Jazz | Experimental Guitar |

Derek Bailey was a free improvising avant-garde guitarist. For listeners unfamiliar with experimental music, Bailey’s distinctive style can be initally quite difficult. Its most noticeable feature is what appears to be its extreme discontinuity, often from note to note: there may be enormous intervals between consecutive notes, and rather than aspiring to the consistency of timbre typical of most guitar-playing , Bailey interrupts it as much as possible: four consecutive notes, for instance, may be played on an open string, a fretted string, via harmonics, and using a nonstandard technique such as scraping the string with the pick or plucking below the bridge. Playing both acoustic and electric guitars, Bailey was able to extend the possibilities of the instrument in radical ways, obtaining a far wider array of sounds than are usually heard. He explored the full vocabulary of the instrument, producing timbres and tones ranging from the most delicate tinklings to fierce noise attacks. (The sounds he produced have been compared to those made by John Cage’s prepared piano.)

Ballads is exactly how it seems to be, a kind of romantic album. Derek do his characteristic experimental-form guitar on some classic jazz tracks. They don't sound very much similar to the original versions, here they're presented on a amazing unique approach. Bailey plays with a feeling that I've rarely seen on my life, and sometimes it sounds like the guitar is a extension of his body. The finest tracks are "Stella by Starlight", "My Melancholy Baby" (where he shreds his guitar in a slaughtering way), "Body and Soul" (a kind of a latin-sounding ballad) and the two versions "Gone with the wind" (though it may be the less experimental on the whole album, it's still holds Bailey's soul).

Catalog: TZ 7607 (Tzadik)
On Last.fm
Download

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Les Rallizes Dénudés - '67-'69 Studio et Live (1991)

| Avant-Garde | Psychedelic Rock | Noise Rock |
| Experimental Rock | Folk-Rock |


Here it goes another great record from LRD, that perhaps is the most amazing band from Japan (for the other albums, check out here). This early record from Les Rallizes Dénudés isn't as experimental and noisy as their later work, but it hold still as one of their most important. It's their "Velvet Underground and Nico" (the one with the banana lol). Though focused more on straight compositions, short songs and psychedelic rock, it already have their free-form rock style and noise collages. This may not be their best, but it's a good start-point for those who are not into Psychedelic-Noise Rock.

The album starts with its most experimental song, "Smokin' Cigarette Blues", a 19min giant wave of psychedelic percussion mixed along with Mizutani's loud guitar. "Otherwise my Conviction" is my favorite from this record, and is presented here as two versions. The second has a extended solo and is a little more loud and raw, but both versions are great. "Cry of Bird" and "Les Bulles de Savon" are nice folkier song and "A Memory Is Far" is a bit of a mixture of mizutani's experimental and folk side. "La Mal Rouge" is a more experimental song, and could be a lot better if wasn't unfortunately too short. "The Last One" is one of LRD finest tracks, and the early version here is amazing. Noisy and raging, the song grows from the calm beginning into a fast tide of screaming guitar and vocals, experimental percussion, and a repetitive and hypnotic bass line. It's amazing the fury they blow on this one, and if it wasn't for "Otherwise my Conviction", this would be the best on this album. The album then closes with a 11sec untitled noise barriage that is used on the end of "La Mal Rouge" and "The Last One".

Catalog: SIXE-0101 (Rivista Inc.)
On Last.fm
Download

Ground Zero - Revolutionary Pekinese Opera Ver.1.28 (1996)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Rock/Jazz/Electronic |
| Noise |


Ground Zero is a japanese Avant-Garde band, fronted by Otomo Yoshihide and the experimental trio "Altered States", with sometimes the addition of another musicians. Their music is notable for the high use of daily-life sounds sample, with high improvisation upon it, which can take form of any range from rock, jazz, electronic beats or even other styles. They take their samples from everywhere they find that may sound nostalgic to the modern human. Tv programs, radio, advertising, movies, documentaries, interview, cars and traffic jams, industry and fabric noise, national anthems, military march drums, spaceship launching... It's amazing the irony their songs have. They're always striking against modern culture, the american-way of and the modern life, big companies and megacorps, and, mostly, politics. The Musique Concrète influence on Ground Zero is clearly visible.

"Revolutionary Pekinese Opera" is my favorite album from them. Although it might not be their best, It's certainly their most beautiful. It criticizes mostly politicians like Mao Tsé-Tung, the imperialism from the USA and the west-Europe, and revolutionary 'n' terrorists groups. A real post-modern record. The irony is highly visible on the "Paraiso" tracks, where they fill them with advertising and modern-life sounds and noises. The first is a mad, confusing and vertiginous song, where you just get lost behind all those samples. Well, it might remind you a walking by the streets, specially if you live on big cities like Tokyo or New York. The second is filled with silent, with a few samples, notably a Disney theme song sample. Well, after listening to the whole album you should get the meaning of all this. And if you don't get captivated by this record, I think you should review your concepts about the modern world.

Putting the conceptual side apart for a little, the musical part of "Revolutionary Pekinese Opera" is as stunning. The samples actually join hands with the song, instead of just being background conceptual noise. You might sometimes think that the samples are, in fact, part of the music, and that's Ground Zero objective. The skilled trio "Altered States" provide this record a highly experimental set of Noise, Rock, Jazz, Folk, Classical and regional music, and even electronic beats to the songs, always being headed and guided by the genius Otomo Yoshihide. There're lots of invited musicians for "Revolutionary Pekinese Opera", and they use every instrument they can find, from basic guitar and bass to beat-machines, saxophones, trumpet, pianos and the japanese shamisen.

Catalog: ReR GZ1 (ReR Megacorp)
On Last.fm
Download

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - C'est Parfait Endoctrine Tu Tombes La Tete La Premiere (2003)

| Avant-Garde | Experimental Percussion |
| Psychedelic |


Following the pattern of "Tenshi no Gijinka" (check out haino's other albums here), "'C'est Parfait' Endoctriné Tu Tombes La Tête La Première N'essayant Pas De Comprendre Quelque Chose Si Tu Te Prépares À La Décision D'accepter Tout Compris / Endre En Toi-Même Cela Se Résoudra."(yeah, that's the name lol) is another dark album of experimental percussion. This shows how Keiji Haino has enhanced during the years. He is full skilled on this, and while it's still a live record, Haino uses vocals and rhythm machine to produce 45min of a huge storm.

While "Tenshi no Gijinka" sounded like entering a nightmare, "C'est Parfait" sounds like you're already inside a tormentor bad dream. As I've already said, Haino isn't a musician that tell you his dreams, but he invites you to dream with him. The bad part of it, is that he invites you to nightmares too. On this album, you really experience fear. The drums provide a massive and striking hurricane, while Keiji sings like something I've only listened during my worse dreams. The song alternates between shrieks and explosive, spluttering percussive onslaughts to mist-cloaked areas of spooky quietude. It’s a little strange to hear so many layers of Haino all raging at once, but the result as seen on "C'est Parfait" is wonderful.

Catalog: TDCD-01 (Turtle's Dream)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Hijokaidan ( 非常階段 ) - Romance [1990 reissue] (2006)

| Harsh Noise |

Another one from the harsh-mad-noise Hijokaidan (check previous releases from them here). Romance is even worse than Ferocity of Practical Life. A one track, 77min, of fucking noise. It summarizes this album. This isn't romantic, believe me. Well, you shouldn't even bother with this one. You can't handle it, unless you're a harsh noise addicted, walk far from this record.

If you really like Hijokaidan (well... you don't, but anyway...), this record is a must-have. C'mon, even though no human can stand to this 77min of madness, this is pure beautifulness. I doubt there is anything better to listen when your day was a completely shit. This will make it even worse. Romance is irritating, uncomfortable, unbearable. And that's fine for a Hijokaidan record.

Well, again, don't bother with this one. As I said, this is not reverse psychology. You won't like, nor in anyway enjoy, this album.

Catalog: ARCD-018 (1990 original record) | ARCD-173 (2006 reissue) [Alchemy Records]
On Last.fm
Download

Hijokaidan ( 非常階段 ) - Ferocity of Practical Life 10" (1997)

| Harsh Noise |

Hijokaidan is one of the most important japanese bands on the harsh noise scenario. Alongside with Masonna, Gerogerigegege, Incapacitants, and the legendary Merzbow, they were one of the firsts 'pure' noisy bands from the Japanese underground. The group began at 1979 as a performance art-based group whose anarchic shows would often involve destruction of venues and audio equipment, food and garbage being thrown around, and on-stage urination. As the group’s lineup changed over time, their focus became less performance-based and more musically based, fine-tuning their sound into a dense wall of white noise created by each member making as much of aural-headache as humanly possible. The group is the project of guitarist Yoshiyuki “Jojo” Hiroshig, its one constant member, who is head & owner of the Osaka-based Alchemy Records. Other regulars include Jojo’s wife Junko and Toshiji Mikawa (from Incapacitants).

Ferocity of Practical life 10" consists of two tracks, side A and B, full of white noise. It's hard to even hear them screaming behind this giant wall of noise. Well, there isn't much to say about this. One of Hijokaidan's most white-noisier performances. I found side A a little more comfortable and listenable than side B, though I don't really know if there is any difference from both. It's cool that Masami Akita, better known as Merzbow, does the drumming on this album. You barely can listen to any kind of beat on this, though...

My best advice for you is: Stay Away from this. If you're not a Harsh Noise lover, just don't even download this. Stop looking at this and go listen to something else on this blog... there's keiji haino, shizuka, high rise... all of them are fine (ok, keiji is fucking more than fine, but that's not the point). Just stay away from Hijokaidan or any Hijokaidan record you find.

Serious. This isn't reverse psychology, believe me. (check other Hijokaidan's releases here)

Catalog: FDTEN56 (Fourth Dimension Records)
On Last.fm
Download

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - To Start With, Let's Remove The Colour (2002)

| Avant-Garde | Ethereal | Experimental Rock |
| Psychedelic Rock | Noise Rock |

This album starts haunting since its cover, a completely beautiful deep gray blurry photo of Keiji (for Haino's other releases, check out here). "To Start with, Let's remove the colour" offers up well over an hour of haunting, midnight lamp-accompanied music that will effortlessly spritz your soul with the most gentle, glacially hovering solo guitar and vocals. Buried deep in a vast and dark cloud, there're staggered guitar strums layered with totally somnambulant ghost moaning and more than 10 times your reccommended daily allowance of reverb. Beyond gorgeous.

Following the simple selft-titled opening song, we have the amazing "What To Do, Moving Apart, Drawing Near, The Closer You Get The More You Become Someone Else" (another yay! for keiji's long titled tracks!), filled with ghost-like vocals and a delicate cursed-reverb guitar. The rest of the album continues as stunning as the start, but its best track is perhaps "Now Which? There Has To Be Somewhere To Come Back To". I can't even describe that, a completely disturbing song that summarizes the album spirit (good word to describe it, 'spirit').

Catalog: PSFD-8014 (P.S.F. Records)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Keiji Haino ( 灰野敬二 ) - The Book of Eternity Set Aflame (1996)

| Avant-Garde | Noise | Experimental Rock |
|
Experimental Electronic | Psychedelic |

This one is a pretty tough album to find around (for Keiji Haino's other releases, check out here). This CD contains 70 minutes of music from 1995 in the form of three long, untitled tracks of spiritual lift-off. Not using overdubbing, as most of Keiji's records. One of my favorite albums from him.

Track 01 is a 18min long solo electric guitar, pedals and amp stack overload with tons of subtle, high-pitched string wailing occurring under washes of non-generic feedback, ending with a very jarring and painful series of aluminum slashes.

Track 02 is a 12-minute, ugly/beautiful, brooding lake of electronics that is excellent for a long night swim alone. The supremely tortured vocals appearing later can make anyone shiver of fear.

Track 03 Clocks in at 39 minutes. It is another extended foray into Keiji Haino’s infinite interior and our reality’s infinite exterior. It’s a swirling galaxy of endless solo guitar mangling that starts off in the heavy improv mode, with his patented stuttered/spluttered vocals thrown in, and eventually coalesces into an incredibly dense electrical storm. The last 10 minutes mellow into an incredibly moving, quiet cloud of amp hum that sounds like a billion year-old signal coming from some dead radio station on the far edge of the universe. Near the end, Keiji Haino’s voice—now so beautiful and gentle—cuts straight to the core as the sound fades.

Catalog: FE-036 (Forced Exposure)
Album overview on Arcane Candy
On Last.fm
Download

Monday, September 7, 2009

Enno Velthuys - Different Places (1987)

| Ambient | Synth-Electronic |

Continuing with Enno's discography (for the previous releases, check out here), Different Places is Enno Velthuys last work, and It do not sound disappointing in any way. Though it's being clearly inclined more on Synth-Electronic than Ambient, It still holds his brilliant style. This is, with no doubt, one of his best (just after "A Glimpse of Light").

This album rolls in a better mood than on "A glimpse of Light". It starts with the nice "To Dance With You", and though it continues good throughout the end, the "Morning Tears"-"Crystal River"-"Shape Of Light"-"Empty Streets" section is the best of the album. It's the more ambient and gloomy part also. The track "Siberia" recalls "Discovery" (from "A glimpse of Light"), and though it isn't a travel by the giant universe, traveling by the lonely Ice Age has its beautiful side.

Catalog: EA026 (Exart Cassettes)
On Last.fm
Download