Saturday, October 18, 2014

Karuna Khyal - 1974 - Alomoni 1985

Karuna Khyal
Alomoni 1985

Side A
01. 24-32 (24:32)
Side B
02. 22-30 (22:30)

- Yoshihiro Takahashi / all instruments

KARUNA KHYAL was one of the most obscure bands of the Japanese psychedelic rock scene. Some claim the outfit was a one-man project by Yoshihiro Takahashi, others that it was formed with him and his "druggie" family...but now nobody knows a lot about him/them.

They released their one and only album "Alomoni 1985" in 1976 - the music style of which is often compared to FAUST or other Krautrock bands - one of milestones of Japanese psychedelic scene. Unfortunately it's said they broke up the following year and there's no knowledge about them after that.

1999 saw the unearthing of another coveted relic, thanks to the efforts of Paradigm Disc's Clive Graham. As with the label's reissues of (the possibly related) Brast Burn's Debon, Trevor Wishart's Menagerie and The Reverend Dwight Frizzell & Anal Magic's Beyond the Black Crack, Karuna Khyal's Alomoni 1985 is something very special - unburied treasure, indeed. The MO is thoroughly corrupted rock n' roll, steeped in ragtag R&B and crisscrossed by croaked vocal mantras and deliriously dizzy slide guitar. On the first of the albums two 20+ minute fractured tracks of rambunctious, bass-led "song," Alomoni 1985 invites comparisons to nothing less than a low-rent Faust Tapes - less dependent upon Faust's bucolic demeanor and rigorous studio-as-instrument directive - or a particularly gone Magic Band outtake (free from the Captain's authoritarian censorship). And while KK is at least more deserving of the "Japanese Faust" descriptive misleadingly bestowed upon Brast Burn, even this seems bluntly dismissive of a unique, remarkably potent brand of madness. Liberally laced as it is with dated Canned Heat-isms, copious shofar-squawk harmonica riffing, grim oompah/cosmic jug-band plod, smears of visceral feedback, and truly insidious tape-work, Alomoni 1985 is most uncannily analogous to the early catalog of Hapshash & The Coloured Coat, which directly inspired the first communal stirrings of Krautrock.

Heaping historical complication upon confusion, the smoking second half of Alomoni 1985 winds through a noisy tribal exorcism-cum-hoedown. With a bacchanalian commotion of scrappy percussion, a dozen shades of vocal damage (overtone chants, wordless mumbling, tuneless singing, raucous whoops and hollers), gusts of modulated (wind? synth?) noise, and spurts of volatile, psychedelicized improv, KK bursts through the free-music barrier - albeit in a stomping, stumbling Cro-Magnon fashion. No-Neck Blues Band adherents take note. Surviving lore about KK, however, places Alomoni 1985 quite a few years earlier (maybe), in Japan (maybe), with an unknown (maybe), substantially more menacing quantity either cut adrift of its contemporaneous musical timeline or orbiting decades ahead of such. But consider that such modern concerns as Ectogram, Ulan Bator, Ghost, and all aforementioned and kindred souls could have stickered their names on the cover of Alomoni 1985 without anyone batting an eye. It just doesnt add up, does it?

In fact, so many questions concerning KK persist that the CD tray includes a plea (from Mr. Graham!) for any information about this enigmatic crew. Alomoni 1985 may lack the provenance needed to calibrate its actual historical import, but the album remains a compelling oddity - brash, bristling, baffling, and all but inexplicable. One is left wondering what might have become of Karuna Khyal, whatever year's model Alomoni 1985 represents.
Side A 24-32

Eccentric sounds with a twisted guitar and religious percussions & voices have come now! We can have a feeling that something bad would happen - with very solemn, weird, and eerie sounds. Realizing that this music style should be Oriental and of Buddhism, we might come close to be absorbed the weirdness. But don't be deceived. Time's gonna change soon about 3 1/2 minutes later. Suddenly extremely repetitive quiet banjo, stable percussions, and uncomfortable voice over some effectors are around us. Not only this, scenes are altering so rapidly. Here come some growling and bells ringing with the recorded tape slowly or reversely played For these sounds, somebody might say KARUNA KHYAL was of Japanese Krautrock like Faust. However, I do suggest they (he?) should be more influenced by drugs, druggy lives, and drug abuses than Krautrock scene. Such druggie, speedy, and freaky explosions could be born otherwise.

Side B 22-30

More aggressively artifactual noises, process voices repeating Alomoni, O-chow, Gaow, and various meaningless (senseless?) words, and heavy bass sounds can rush toward and run over us. I'm sure, of all in the side, the most important element is the heavy bass. This rhythmical bass sounds can remind us the trip for Buddhism. How? You can feel you repeat the words of Buddha, can't you? About 11 1/2 minutes later, eccentric and crazy guitar sounds and much crazier voices (with cries of a baby and dandling of a father...?) should take us into another sky. We should dance to the druggie noise without our intention whether we misunderstand or not. At last, we should have a vacant feeling with the last quiet air. And go out like the outfit...

Caution! This album is a real drug, not a cranky work...but highly recommended as a drug.



  2. Wild and crazy!

    I have discovered a whole new musical world because of you and this great blog. Thank you!!!

    I went through the Germany music.
    Now I am on the Japan quest.

    Peace, JV

  3. Hi! This one is busted. Server Error = 252
    kind regards, Dr. Studebaker

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