Saturday, April 28, 2018

Maru Sankaku Shikaku - 1973 - Maru Sankaku Shikaku (Circle Triangle Square)

Maru Sankaku Shikaku 
1973
Maru Sankaku Shikaku (Circle Triangle Square)


01. Circle One 17:11
02. Circle Two 16:50
03. Triangle One 17:05
04. Triangle Two 14:19
05. Square One 16:54
06. Square Two 14:17

Bonus on 4cd version:
07. Four One 14:26
08. Four Two 14:09
09. Five One 10:07
10. Five Two 10:00

Sakuro "Kant" Watanabe
Kohji "Tohchan" Miura
Etsuko "Manager" Watanabe
Reck
Chiko-Hige
Juno
Yoshiyuki Hida


Long dormant artifacts from the halcyon days of Seventies Japanese trippy hippy psychedelia, three albums recorded by a group of travelling troubadours Maru Sankaku Shikaku have been bundled into a big set and made available to interested folks beyond the shores of Nippon. Led by Sakuro “Kant” Watanabe, the band travelled around Japan in the early 1970s performing publicly as street performers and dossing down in sleeping bags and tents where need be.

The three discs convey the impression of long shamanistic rituals in which free-form and improvised music dominates. A lot of it sounds direction-less and perhaps it was intended to be. There are sometimes passages where the music seems to coalesce into something definitely rhythmic and acquires focus and purpose. In such sections, the music is surprisingly energetic and joyful, and the performers carry on and on for their lives until they’ve sucked the life out of the groove. Disc 1 in particular feels like the appetiser to the main course and dessert that will follow on succeeding discs: while certainly very active, it has the ambience of the musicians practising warm-up and preparation, and occasionally psyching themselves into their own private trances, in which they engage in mental and psychic space travel, in order to ready themselves for the main rituals. The mood is happy and exploratory, as performers experiment with various objects, some musical and others not so but pressed into service anyway, and play with them for as long as their attention is not distracted by the next toy available.

At this point it should be said that each disc, representing an individual album, is about 30 minutes long with just two tracks (each corresponding to one side of the original vinyl LP release) so it can be assumed that the music was originally intended to be continuous on each album. It could very well be that the albums are excerpts of one continuous jam session. Disc 2 begins rather alarmingly with a woman’s wordless ululations against accompanying drums and a guitar: neither instrument makes any coherent sense and both play against each other. The music is frantic with a restless animated zip: all instruments zing off at tangents and follow their individual journeys in often demented ways. Guitar especially scrabbles through a forest of blues tones and drums knock about constantly. Organ noodles and stutters about. Later a definite guitar melody develops and energy concentrates in the riffing. As on Disc 1, there is plenty of mucking about and curious experimentation for its own sake.

Disc 3 features faster, slightly more structured music as the performers get caught up in the mood of their moment and go for broke while the inspiration powers them. The singing is perhaps the most outstanding aspect here: the disc starts off with a male performer babbling away excitedly while jaunty piano follows him. The troupe is caught up in the vocalist’s mood and garbled, wordless singing continues more or less for the length of the album.

The whole set really is a musical universe unto itself; to say the performers were off with the fairies is an understatement to say the least. Probably the closest contemporary parallel would be the strange fey fairy folk ambient music scene that used to exist in Kyogle in northern New South Wales some years ago. The music takes its inspiration from free-form jazz without appearing jazzy at all. What became of the performers after they recorded their five albums is unknown but if they knew their body of musical work has survived down to the present, they would surely be overjoyed. A new generation of listeners can finally discover the performers’ strange rituals and journeys to another world for themselves.

After forty years, the music remains fresh and as loopy as it must have been at the time. My copy of the set is a digitally remastered one and the hiss and crackle of the original vinyl do not appear.

Reissue of this Japanese early '70s performance group. The group's name is literally the icons for a "circle," "triangle" and "square," with "Maru Sankaku Shikaku" substituting as a translation for those images. Circle Triangle Square were a painted bunch of commune rockers and percussion tribe second to none, whose random bells, flute and remedial tea-tray flailings were still more like the Godz or Nihilist Spasm Band than the deep theta-space obliterations of Taj Mahal Travellers. Led by future Murahatchibu drummer Sahuro "Kant" Watanabe, CTS were part of an elite bunch of Shinjuku Futen bands who actually made it onto record. Digitally remastered. Includes a 16-page booklet with notes by band leader Sahuro "Kant" Watanabe. Contains the original LP artwork.

Reissue of this Japanese early '70s performance group. The group's name is literally the icons for a "circle," "triangle" and "square," with "Maru Sankaku Shikaku" substituting as a translation for those images. Circle Triangle Square were a painted bunch of commune rockers and percussion tribe second to none, whose random bells, flute and remedial tea-tray flailings were still more like the Godz or Nihilist Spasm Band than the deep theta-space obliterations of Taj Mahal Travellers. Led by future Murahatchibu drummer Sahuro "Kant" Watanabe, CTS were part of an elite bunch of Shinjuku Futen bands who actually made it onto record. Digitally remastered. Includes a 16-page booklet with notes by band leader Sahuro "Kant" Watanabe. Contains the original LP artwork.
"Unlikely triple CD reissue of this amazing Japanese underground obscurity: Maru Sanaku Shikaku aka Circle Triangle Square, were a radical free-improvising street theatre ensemble founded by Sakuro Watanabe in 1970 and featuring a rotating ensemble of musicians that included Reck and Chiko Hige of legendary Japanese No Wave groups 3/3 and Friction. Disregarding skill or technique, the group play extended acid jams that marry the cultic feel of classic Kraut séances with a goofy Familiar Ugly approach to joyful noise and the kind of abstruse musical strategies that would reconcile the higher-minded drone of Taj Mahal Travellers with the total musical freedom of NNCK and The Godz. It’s mind-boggling to think that these studio recordings came out in 1973 as they sound completely contemporary, taking freak folk modes and radically deconstructed rock jams and extrapolating them to the moon. There are ginchy guitar jams that come over like Tom Rapp jamming Corky’s Debt To His Father, percussion pile-ups and soft lunar ragas that are pure Tower Recordings and the kind of massively dislocated spontaneous psychedelia – complete with mind-phasing F/X and massed vocal chants – that would link them to a tradition that runs through Group Ongaku, East Bionic Symphonia, Marginal Consort et al. A phenomenal set that turns linear underground histories on their head. Highly recommended." Volcanic Tongue

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