Saturday, November 12, 2016

Akuma No Bansankai - 1976 - Dinner in Honor of Demon

Akuma No Bansankai 
Dinner in Honor of Demon

01. Super Highway 3:03
02. Shinkirou No Machi 4:45 (Town of The Mirage)
03. Yume Ni Notte 3:08 (Ride The Dream)
04. Wakare 3:17 (Farewell)
05. Tokai No Natsu 1:03 (Summer of The City)
06. Torikawa Ondo 2:50 (Torikawa Leading)
07. Kimi No Tamenara 6:07 (Only For You)
08. Dainashi 1:45 (It's Spoiled)
09. Chippoke Na Tayori 3:22 (Small Letter)
10. Koisuru Kotono Muzukashisa 4:32 (Difficulty of being in Love)
11. Oyome-San 2:55 (Bride)
12. Furu Ame Ni Tatoete 4:30 (For example, like Rain falls)
13. Moon Drops 2:49
14. Hoshikuzu Atsumete 4:03 (Collect Stars)
15. Dinner in Honor of Demon 2:00

Prod by Yoshihiro Kunimoto, Tomoya Masaki
Engineered by Yoshihiro Kunimoto, Takanori Imada, Shouji Hirata + Demon
Takanori Imada - Lead Vocal
Yoshihiro Kunimoto - Hammond Organ, Synthesizer, Vocals
Masanori Kobayashi - Guitar, Vocals
Tomoya Masaki - Guitar, Vocals
Hitoshi Ninaya - Guitar, Vocals, Chorus
Takuya Ohmura - Guitar, Vocals, Chorus
Shouji Hirata - Guitar, Chorus
Atsushi Kiba - Bass, Chorus
Shigenori Hamaguchi - Drums, Percussion, Guitar, Vocals

An Excellent Underground Private Pressing Album From Hiroshima.
High School Teens Plays Their Original Psych Hard Rock Prog Tunes.
A Member Included Young genius Yoshihiro Kunimoto Who Later Became
Arranger For Jun Togawa, Denki Groove, Konami Game etc.
All Nine members were 16 - 17old.
Recorded Their Private Studio March 29th to May 5th 1976.
Mysterious Mona Lisa Art Cover With Creative Booklet.

Look at that cover. And that title. Oh my, we're a long way from the Japanese progressive rock I grew up with (Fable on the Seven Pillows anyone?). I think digging something like this out of the ground must come with some sort of curse or somethin'. And thus said the Elder "He who shall uncover Dinner in Honor of Demon shall spend eternity with album cover on thy mind"

It is for certain a bizarre album, that moves seamlessly amongst many styles. Each side's opening with variations of [standard 1940s Asian theme] is a bit silly, but some of the lounge bits offset by fuzz guitar were very interesting. At times the album is brilliant, with crazy effects and crazier ideas all coming at you randomly and seemingly out of place. While at others, the fast-forward button begins to look appealing (especially on Side 2). One can even hear a proto Pizzicato Five here. Honestly, the album seems more influenced by 1967-68 era Beatles than anything else. So yes, as the AC notes, one could see this going down a storm with the well heeled collector set who already have everything else, but for the rest of us, it remains merely an interesting curio. Perhaps it would serve well as a featured item in a small town museum.

Zone Time - 1976 - 地方時

Zone Time 

01. Prologue
02. Coffee Cup
03. Cloud
04. The Big Needy
05. Nightmare
06. Bye Bye Vallentine
07. People
08. 'Cause I heard Your Grapevine
09. Autumn In Town
10. Hiiragi Avenue
11. Snowblink
12. Leave Me Tenderly
13. Then The Morning Has Come
14. Epilogue

Here's a very obscure album from Japan that appears to have just been discovered. The AC tells us: "Very obscure private press LP by a group of Keio University students. An extremely long (almost 55 minutes) and well-produced album that's all over the map musically, from keyboard driven semi-prog to ultra-heavy guitar psych/hard rock, soft rock, crooning balladry, etc. It's like they took every idea from the early/mid 70s rock scene that they could think of and tried to cram it in here. Quite inconsistent obviously, but with some real moments of interest. The guitar work stands out in particular, with some excellent psych and hard rock style soloing. Sort of fascinating, but it will probably try your patience by the end. Beautiful cover art, and comes with a nice booklet."

Can't add much to this. A diversified album, with an obvious background of the great acts of the day, perhaps once again The Beatles being a primary influence here, despite the late date. It is indeed more 70s rock than 60s psych, but in effect, the kitchen sink mentality is at play here. And do I hear some Peter Frampton in these grooves? Why I think I do! 55 minutes is an extraordinary length for the era. Perhaps too much so.

Does anyone have more info about these guys... lineup maybe?

Various Artists - 1971 - Che Guevara, 71, Tokyo

Various Artists 
Che Guevara, 71, Tokyo

01. 熊谷章 (Akira Kumagai) - 馬子唄
02. 小山田宗徳 (Munenori Oyamada) - 君は?
03. 石立鉄男, 小林トシエ (Tetsuo Ishidate, Kobayashi Toshie) - ゲバラに逢ったのさ
04. カルーセル麻紀 (Karūseru Maki) - 幸せという町
05. 峰岸隆之介 (Tôru Minegishi) - 夜桜仁義
06. 山谷初男 (Hatsuo Yamaya), 益田ひろ子 (Hiroko Masuda) - 何んにもいらない
07. 左時枝 (Tokie Hidari) - あなたよ
08. 山谷初男 (Hatsuo Yamaya), 石立鉄男(Tetsuo Ishidate) - 誰も知らない
09. 熊谷章 (Akira Kumagai) - 死の皮のテーマ / ゲバラ讃歌
10. ゲバラ行進曲
11. 熊谷章 (Akira Kumagai) - 馬子唄
12. 山口崇 (Takashi Yamaguchi) - 悲しみはともだち

Teichiku Records – SL-1349
Japan, 1971
Psychedelic Rock, Experimental, Trad Japanese Enka

Music for the stage play Che Guevara... as requested...

Yasuo Inada and the Bemi Family - 1976 - Kankaku Shikō

Yasuo Inada and the Bemi Family
感覚思考 (Kankaku Shikō)

01. ドビッシー 「水に映る影」より オリジナルNo.I (Debussy ''Mizu ni Utsuru Kage'' Yori Original No. I) 19:47
02. ベートーベン ピアノ奏鳴曲8番ハ短調 / 作品13 「悲愴」「32の変奏曲ハ短調」より オリジナルNo.II (Beethoven Piano Sōmeikyoku 8-Ban Ha Tanchō / Sakuhin 13 ''Hisō'' ''32 no Hensōkyoku Ha Tanchō'' Yori Original No. II) 10:47
03. オリジナルNo.III (Original No. III) 6:12

Drums – 諸井章司 (Shoji Moroi)
Guitar – 福田幾二郎 (Ikujiro Fukuda), 福田幾太郎 (Ikutaro Fukuda) , 志村昭三\ (Shozo Shimura)
Keyboards – 稲田保雄 (Yasuo Inada)
Piano – Onna
Vocals – 稲田保雄 (Yasuo Inada)

This album goes to the heart of what progressive is all about.  Starting with a beautifully played solo piano piece it moves on to various intricate compositions, with funky moments, electronic scribbles, chamber music, and a slow gorgeous song at the end: "Life, is such a wonderful thing..." it is, and it's partly thanks to beautiful music like this...

For those who don't have a taste for classical music the beginnings of sides one and two will be a slow slog, since Debussy constitutes the first few minutes of the former and Beethoven's Pathetic Sonata as I used to call it the beginning of the latter.  Notice that all the keys are played by Yasuo Inada.  Particularly useful I've found is to listen just prior to going to bed for some natural sedation.

Notice as well that Tom Hayes is right on the money with his assessment that there is nothing quite like this record.  To my mind, what comes closest is the Ajatulapsi of Kotilainen which is more electronic or Cosmic Debris' While You're Asleep.  Having said that, I would take Inada and Bemi's album any day over the other, it just never ceases to interest me in its various changes.  I must have listened literally dozens of times to it already.

Toshiaki Yokota & The Beat Generation - 1971 - Flute Adventure

Toshiaki Yokota & The Beat Generation 
Flute Adventure

01. Suites "Le Soleil Etait Encore Chaud"
--Clair Deluge
--Bal Des Pendus
--Nuit De L'enfer
02. Ofelia
03. Samba De Orfeu
04. Orfeu Negro
05. Reza

Bass – Bass – Kinio Sato, Masaoki Terakawa
Drums – Antonio Ishida
Electric Guitar – Kimio Mizutani
Flute [Indian, Alto, Bass] – Toshiaki Yokota
Guitar – Nobuyuki Murakami, Sadanori Nakamure
Percussion – Eiji Narushima, Larry Sunaga, Pedro Umemura
Piano – Hideo Ichikawa

I first heard about this Japanese album nearly 20 years ago, from a rarities catalog called Turbulence. Some of you old-timers I'm sure recall those great Greg Pawelko lists.  Greg stated it reminded him of Yatha Sidhra’s “Meditation Mass” or maybe some other underground Krautrock album from the great Ohr label. Well, I have to tell you folks - that most certainly grabbed my attention!

Except I never saw it listed again.



I began to doubt its existence after while, since no one ever claimed they knew anything about it. Part of the problem was that I had Mr. Yokota's name spelled wrong. I knew he was on the Love Live Life + 1 album (I always presumed he was the "+ 1" but I'm not sure of that). He was also a guest on Kimio Mizutani's excellent "A Path Through Haze" as well as Hiro Yanagida's "Milk Time". He was definitely embedded in the Japanese underground brain-scorched Rat Pack that's for sure.

So you can imagine my shock when I found out that "Flute Adventure" was not only out on CD, but a legitimate press on one of Japan’s major labels: King Records. This revelation of its existence came to me in early 2007 (the CD was officially released on March 7, 2007), to which I couldn't hand my money over fast enough. The funny thing is it was released under their "Jazz Swing" series. Uh, yea... that's what this is! Not.

"Flute Adventure" is exactly as was touted by Greg – a mix of flute based underground acid psych and ethnic woodwind journeys drizzled with a dash of cocktail lounge. So, yes, a little Yatha Sidhra, a little Bjorn J:Son Lindh, some Jeremy Steig, even a smattering of Herbie Mann – all through the Ohr label aesthetic of phased out monsters like Annexus Quam. And it’s a full band effort, not just an album with solo flute. No, this one has plenty of fuzz guitar and tribal percussion to add to the party.

Absolutely essential for the freakshow hidden deep within you.

Toshiaki Yokota & The Beat Generation - 1970 - Elevation

Toshiaki Yokota & The Beat Generation 

01. Elevation Part 1
02. On The Road
03. Easy To Be Hard
04. And When I Die
05. Curved Navel
06. What'd I Say
07. How Long Have I Been Waiting For You
08. You Are My Way Of Life
09. Elevation Part 2

Toshiaki Yokota and The Beat Generation
Toshiaki Yokota: flute
Hideo Ichikawa: keyboard
Sadanori Nakamure: guitar
Jun Suzuki: bass
Takeshi Inomata: drums
Larry Sunaga: percussion

Recorded in 1970
Includes liner notes in Japanese by Toyo Nakamura and Yusuke Ogawa

Gorgeous rare groove gem that this second album of The Beat Generation, led by one of most famous japanese flutist, Toshiaki Yokota from Sound Limited, arranged by the jazz master, Masahiko Satoh, and featuring Takeshi Inomata, Hideo Ichikawa & Jun Suzuki, all supported by strings. Unlike their following album, the experimental "Flute Adventure", released in 1971, Elevation is more characterized by a pop oriented sound in a kind rock "baroque" style occurred by the Ichikawa's harpsichord playing. Titles include covers (What'd I Say) and originals composed by Yokota (Elevation, On The Road), Inomata (Curved Navel) & Ichikawa (How Long Have I Been Waiting For You). All tracks arranged by Masahiko Sato.

Toshiaki Yokota & Primitive Community - 1970 - Primitive Community

Toshiaki Yokota & Primitive Community 
Primitive Community

01. 禁じられた儀式
02. 悪魔の涙
03. ハリクリシュナ
04. サバンナ
05. フライング
06. ブラック・ナルシス

Toshiaki Yokota  (Flute / Indian / Alto&Bass Flute)
Shunzou Ohno (Trumpet)
Kimio Mizutani  (Elec. Guitar)
Kimio Koizumi (Elec. Bass / Acorstic Base)
Yuhsuke Hoguchi (Hamond Organ)
Larry Sunaga (Percussion)
Pedro Umemura (Percussion)
Tadaomi Anai (Percussion)
Yoshinori Nohmi (Percussion)
Fujio Saitoh (Percussion)
Minoru Ishiyama (Percussion)
Chito Kawachi (Drums)

What we got here is probably Japan's best kept secret. For somedays i was amazing myself listening this album over and over again. Toshiaki Yokota's "Flute Adventure" album is one of my favorite, and i was wondering "Primitive Community" like many others. Since album is private press, 300 copies were made, and since it costs some thousands; we wanted everybody to taste this delicious album. My regards and thanks goes to Toshiaki Yokota himself, to give me a chance to introduce this album to you. A real treasure for the lovers of 70s prog/fusion..

"Born in 1944 in Tokyo. Started his musical carrier at 17 years old. Led his own group 'The Beat Generation' and 'Primitive Community' for 10 years, as well as playing lead flute in Takeshi Inomata's Sound Limited. A pioneer of jazz flute in Japan. Now, He lives in Izu-Inatori and maintains his own studio with beautiful and magnificient sea view. There Yokota creates his original instruments taking nature for a friend. The instruments created by Yokota are mainly fue(Japanese flute or pipe),that is shakuhachi, ceramic flute,YAYOI-BUE and other original instruments of his own ideas. He has been doing several live performances using those instruments."

"Toshiaki Yokota and Genshi Kyodotai is at the meeting place of jazz and rock. That exciting time at the turn of the 1970 decade, long before what is commonly referred to as fusion, when the ambition of free jazz met with rock's exciting psychedelic nature. It wasn't important to display Berklee-trained chops, but rather it was about texture, atmosphere and creativity at its most radical. But fortunately it stops short of free jazz's reckless abandon - that point where it's just noise for the sake of noise. There is meaning to every note, instrument and pattern. As well, we get a peek-through-the-bushes look at a Japanese sacrificial ritual as described by the tribal drumming, Hammond organ shards, wordless monk chanting, Yokota's flute and Mizutani's acid fuzz guitar blazing a wah wah trail all to be one with Kami. And that's before we get to the Hare Krishna chorus. An album like this becomes mythical because it is mystical. It's in the same league of sixth dimensioners like Älgarnas Trädgård's "Framtiden Är Ett Svävande Skepp, Förankrat I Forntiden", Lula Côrtes e Zé Ramalho's "Paêbirú" or Pierrot Lunaire's "Gudrun". If Rolf-Ulrich Kaiser had heard this band, they would have been signed to the Ohr label on the spot...

The Mannheim Rock Ensemble - 1971 - Rock of Joy

The Mannheim Rock Ensemble
Rock of Joy

01. Hungarian Dances
02. A Song Of Joy
03. Nocturne Op.9-2
04. Wedding March
05. Ave Maria
06. Fur Elise
07. Invitation To The Dance
08. Going Home
09. Fantaisie-Impromptu
10. Turkish March

Bass – Masayoshi Kabe
Drums – Hiro Tsunoda, Takeshi Inomata
Guitar – Kimio Mizutani, Shinki Chen
Keyboards – Hiro Yanagida, Masahiko Satoh
Violin – Hiroki Tamaki

So, during the boom days of the great Japanese New Rock gold rush, many, many exploitation albums were released. Major label bosses, stacks of yen gleaming in their eyes, would corral a well-known studio/jazz musician, sign him to a contract and tell him something like "Here, go and get a bunch of your weirdo hippy friends and record a rock album! What? Original material?! Are you out of your mind? Just do a bunch of show-tunes or something. The kids will love it! By the way, you have 2 days to knock this one out, so I better not see your face outside that studio until Monday! Now get lost!". Well, I don't know if that's how these conversations ACTUALLY went, but it is how I like to imagine them. In any case, most of these things were completely silly and utterly forgettable, as you might imagine. But a precious few times, a mystical thunderbolt appeared from the heavens and struck these poor bedraggled groups of talented musicians with a type of divine inspiration (or temporary insanity), and something magical was born. Well, maybe I'm getting a bit carried away here, but... Anyway, the infamous People "Buddha Meet Rock" is one such example, and here is another. Nobody's certain who actually played on this thing, as despite the extensive liner notes related to the classical pieces themselves, there are no musicians credited anywhere ("Musical credits? Who needs those?! Now take your damn checks and get outta here!"). However, it's almost a certainty that some of the usual suspects were on the job, meaning Akira Ishikawa on drums, Kimio Mizutani or Ryo Kawasaki on guitar (I'm going with Mizutani here based on style), and of course the one and only Yusuke Hoguchi and his magical exploito-organ to really get the party rolling. So, what we have here is obviously rock exploitation covers of classical music. But to leave it at that would never do this album justice. No, you just can't properly understand the true beauty of classical music until you've heard it played as crazed early 70's Japanese psych/prog full of blasting fuzzed-out wah-wah guitar solos, vintage organ assaults, and a fat, thumping rhythm section (including the wholly incongruous but oddly effective use of congas). There's even a couple of more mellow tracks, backed by a real string quartet, for you fussy types that might want to listen to some "real" classical music. Whatever, man. All things considered, this is probably one of the most entertaining albums you'll hear (or not hear, as the case may be) any time soon. Of course, it should go without saying that this thing is rare beyond belief, only a few copies known to exist, almost totally unknown, yadda yadda yadda. ("How did it sell?! Don't make me laugh! We decided to print up around 50 copies, but we gave most of them away to the secretaries at the office Christmas party, and... What's that? You want one copy to show your wife and kids?! What do you think this is, a charity?! Now get back in the studio and don't let me see your mug again until next Friday!") Sadly, an album of this ilk is unlikely to ever see a legit (or even non-legit) reissue, but the People album did, so hope springs eternal! (maybe...).

Now THIS sonofabitch took some time to find. And it's so all over the place I'm going to have to break it down track by track. Strap in.

Hungarian Dance starts things off well. There's no reason a fuzzed-up cover of a classical piece should be this engaging/good, though that'll change as the album progresses.

A Song of Joy (I dunno why they didn't title it Ode to Joy) starts with reverent strings and electric bass, then goes into a cheesy strings-and-rock interpretation before spending its last minute and ten on a killer jam.

Then things grind to a halt. Perhaps it's my fault for liking Chopin's Nocturnes, but the strings-and-rock version of Nocturne Op.9-2 bothers me a lot. Moving aside the boring reasons like it being a piece that doesn't lend itself well to this arrangement at all, the rock bit feels more like them accompanying an orchestra that's already playing something. It comes off as intensely awkward.

Luckily, their heavy psych take on Wedding March picks things up again, although again, I don't know who was the idiot that picked some of these. Nobody's ever been at a wedding and heard this piece at the end and thought, "Y'know what this song needs? Fuzz guitars and wah-wah pedals. Lots of them." It's still a bit uneasy, but the jam at the 2/3rds mark almost completely redeems the track, being indescribably loud and badass. At least when they get to jamming they stop giving a shit about the melody of the piece in question and just rip.

...Ave Maria?!?!?!? WHO PICKED THESE?!?!? Ok, well, the good news is the strings still haven't shown back up yet, and they're still in band mode, but they now sound like Procol Harum. It's psych-ballady. Not a lot to get excited about.

Their take on Fur Elise is much better, with a lot of room for solos and a hell of a lot louder performance. Still not crazy about selection. I must stop mentioning that.

The strings show up again on Invitation to the Dance (not gonna say it), and by "show up again" I mean there are nothing but strings for the first three and a half minutes. The band shows up for the last two minutes but don't do anything interesting.

Going Home might as well be library music. Sounds like upbeat schmaltzy end credits music for a feelgood movie from the early 70s. Strings-and-rock again.

But then Fantasie-Impromptu happens and I suddenly don't care about anything I've said in the rest of the review. We finally, finally get a fully recommendable track. The heavy psych tracks work much better with the less rigidly Western classical tracks, and this is an interpretation that completely 100% works. And will get your head moving.

And that just leaves Turkish March, which doesn't quite work as well as the track before it but DOES have what might be the best barely-related-jam-played-after-the-introduction-of-the-piece's-theme on the whole album, with some monstrously unhinged guitar playing. Shame it's only 2:20.

So... ten tracks over thirty six minutes, one of which I loved, five which were sort of good, and four I couldn't stand. Not a good result, really. I can see the cheese appeal of this possibly lifting some of it up a bit, but not for me. As it is, it's another odd one-off intermittently heavy psych album from Japan that sounds as if someone at the mixing boards was constantly telling them to knock it off whenever they'd start jamming. There's more restraint here than there ought to be, and I wouldn't spend more than $20 trying to get a copy.

Saisei Koubou - 1987 - Act Min Tanaka

Saisei Koubou 
Act Min Tanaka

01. 再生行為 / 逸脱した俳人たち
02. 防波堤
03. 奇論
04. 日没

Recorded At – Plan-B
Kojima Recordings, Inc. – LM-1993 (LLE Label)
1987, Japan

Uchino Hiromi (内野宏海う のひろみ) bass/voice
Enomoto Ryuichi (榎本隆一 えのもとりゅういち) guitar
Fukushima Toru (福嶋透 ふくしまとおる) keyboard
Sasaki Masahiro (佐々木政博 ささきまさひろ) drums/percussion
Guest musician: Hirota Tokuomi (広田徳臣 ひろたとくみ) voice
Sound technician: Kenji Yoshida and Satoru Takazawa.

Here's another obscurity from 1987 Japan, also influenced by Crimson. This time we go back to the 1974 Starless and Bible Black era. A heavy psych guitar, woody bass, metallic percussion sound pervades, with some ominous male vocals (in Japanese) and tuneless keyboard sounds overlaid on top. It's a bit under produced and amateurish, but their hearts are in the right place, and frankly no one was doing music like this in the late 1980s. Probably the closest comparison here is the Michigan band Inserts from their first album (which was distributed in Japan, so I have to wonder if this band may have stumbled on the album) - which we featured a long while ago.

The AC adds more info: "It's actually not a private release, but on Pneuma's (Trembling Strain, Takami, etc.) LLE label, which also released the original Lacrymosa EP and a bunch of other underground stuff in the 80s, including those really cool Takami albums. In fact, the drummer in Saisei is the same guy from Lacrymosa, and I think the guitarist was in Golden Avant-Garde, so there's a definite connection with Chihiro S., even though he's not on the album himself." He also states regarding the Act Min Tanaka on the label: "Min Tanaka is a famous butoh dancer, and I remember learning that the band apparently had some kind of association with him, performing in one of his dance studios or something."

Nozomi Aoki - 1979 - Galaxy Express 999

Nozomi Aoki
Galaxy Express 999

01. Overture - Departure (Glittering Galaxy - Bound for Andromeda) (4:52)
02. Longing (Mother in My Mind ~ Blue Earth) (5:10)
03. Challenge (Attack ~ Rage ~ Suffering) (6:05)
04. The World of Wondrous Stars (Invitation to the Unknown World) (4:31)
05. Wandering (A Journey of Sorrow) (5:31)
06. Adventure (Solitude ~ Chase) (3:27)
07. Encounter (Space Robbers) (4:11)
08. Finale - Praying Forever (Nostalgia ~ Awakening ~ Prayer) (8:42)

Leiji Matsumoto's epic space opera started as a manga that became a TV series that ran from 1978-1981, eventually totaling 113 episodes. In 1979, Rintaro was brought on to helm the theatrical version of the story. The result is not only an anime classic, but a bona fide classic of the sci-fi genre. Leijiverse is an excellent and informative web site dedicated to Leiji Matsumoto and his works. The soundtrack for this feature, composed by Nozomi Aoki, is alternately uptempo (with "disco strings"), haunting, jazzily playful and emotionally wrought. Definitely good stuff.

Nozomi Aoki - 1974 - 1999 A.D

Nozomi Aoki 
1999 A.D

01. Opening
02. I The Devil
03. Destruction No. 1
04. Take That Happy Road
05. Prayer
06. Today's Love
07. Destruction No. 2
08. My Sweet Funny Space
09. Just Follow Me
10. Peace Of Mind
11. The Whole World Knows

Bass – Hideaki Takebe
Chorus – The Marion Gaines Singer's Of Detroit
Drums – Kazuyoshi Okayama
Guitar – Mitsuo Murakami
Percussion [Latin Percussion] – Naomi Kawahara
Piano – Keisuke Egusa
Speech [Dialogue] – Susan Hall & Brandon Hall
Speech [Monologue] – Ken Macdonald
Synthesizer – Nozomi Aoki

Top composer and arranger Nozomi Aoki, this album inspirited by the film of “Prophecies of Nostradamus”. percussive jazz rock with tricky SE and synthesizer

Minoru Muraoka & New Dimension - 1973 - So

Minoru Muraoka & New Dimension 

01. 韻 (In)
02. 撥 (Bachi)
03. 旋法 (Sempou)
04. 打 (Da)
05. 波響 (Hakyou)

Bass – 佐藤桂吾 (Keigo Sato)
Biwa [Satsuma Biwa] – 平山万佐子 (Keigo Sato)
Koto [Jushichigen Koto] – 中丸春美 (Keijiro Kubota)
Percussion [Tsuzumi], Taiko [Wadaiko] – 堅田喜三久 (Kisaku Katada)
Shakuhachi, Shinobue – 村岡実 (Minoru Muraoka)
Shamisen [Tsugaru Jamisen] – 佐々木壮明 (Somei Sasaki)
Sho, Flute [Hichiriki] – 佐藤要征 (Yosei Sato)
Taiko [Wadaiko] – 堅田啓輝 (Hiromitsu Katada), 安部健二郎 (Kenjiro Abe)

Gatefold cover. Recorded August 13, 14 & 15, 1973.

Shakuhachi master and band leader Muraoka recorded scores of records over the years, covering all kinds of ground, with a focus on integrating the traditional Japanese shakuchachi flute into modern western-style music. His most interesting period (from a rock/jazz listener's perspective) unsurprisingly coincided with the experimental New Rock boom in Japan circa the early/mid 70s. His most well-known works are from earlier on in this timeframe, when he released albums like "Osorezan" and "Bamboo", which have long been popular with the rare groove/DJ crowd. But after this he developed a darker, more experimental streak, releasing a string of albums with his New Dimension Group where he started to twist and mutate traditional Japanese music to his own ends, leading to fascinating efforts such as "Jigen" (1972) and "So" (1973). However, these were still probably too traditional to catch the ear of many prog/psych listeners.

Minoru Muraoka - 1970 - Osorezan

Minoru Muraoka

01. 恐山 / Osorezan
02. テイク・ファイブ / Take Five
03. 追分 / Oiwake
04. 褐色のブルース / Blues De Memphis
05. バンブー・ロック / Bamboo Rock
06. 間 / Ma

Bass – Jun Suzuki
Flute [Bamboo] – Minoru Muraoka
Organ – Yusuke Hoguchi
Scat – Kayoko Ishu
Taiko [Wadaiko] – Hiromitsu Katada, Kisaku Katada
Trombone – Koji Nishimura
Biwa – Masako Hirayama
Drums [Tsuzumi] – Kisaku Katada
Koto – Kimiko Yamanouchi
Taiko [Wadaiko] – Hiromitsu Katada
Drums – Akira Ishikawa
Electric Guitar – Sadanori Nakamure
Organ – Yusuke Hoguchi
Vibraphone – Nobuhiro Suzuki
Electric Guitar – Ryo Kawasaki

Recorded live on April 7th, 1970

Minoru Muraoka was born in 1923,and began to studying shakuhachi  (=Japanese bammboo flute) officially in 1939.Later in 1959,he started to mix shakuhachi music with popular music.By playing with  Herbie Mann,a famous jazz flute plaer,in 1967,Minoru playing shakuhachi was known to  a lot of jazz fans.
The album is broken down in two parts. First part was named "Soul shakuhachi" and tracks they played were American blues songs, Bossa Nova,Japanese traditional songs ,rock music....and so  on.
Second part was named "New Dimension  " and the tracks they played were "Take Five""Come Together""Oiwake""Kawanakajima""Ma""Kobushi" and so on. And the last track they played was an epic "Osorezan".
In this album,"Osorezan"was the first track,but actually,was the last track at the concert.
In mid 70s,this album was released as the second edition with the different cover  .but one track called "Take Five"was deleted from the album.I don't know the reason.
Some of Minoru Muraoka's albums are very interesting to prog fans ,however , most of them are too difficult to get for us... hint hint... lol

Minoru Muraoka - 1970 - Bamboo

Minoru Muraoka

01. Take Five 4:53
02. Nogamigawa Funauta 3:54
03. The Positive And The Negative 9:23
04. And I Love Her 2:59
05. The House Of The Rising Sun 4:23
06. Do You Know The Way To San Jose 3:03
07. Soul Bamboo 5:28
08. Call Me 3:31
09. Scarborouge Fair 3:30

Bass – 鈴木淳 (Jun Suzuki) (tracks: A1 to A4)
Biwa – 平山万佐子 (Masako Hirayama) (tracks: A1 to A4)
Koto – 山内喜美子 (Kimiko Yamanouchi) (tracks: A1 to A4)
Percussion – 堅田啓光 (Hiromitsu Katada)
Percussion [鼓] – 堅田喜三久 (Kisaku Katada)
Shakuhachi – 村岡実 Minoru Muraoka

Minoru Muraoka's little known 1970 masterpiece Bamboo is primarily searched out due to it's use by DJs (as are the majority of Japanese releases in this vein), but it's really a fascinating album if viewed through a post-colonial lens. Jazz in Japan has had an interesting history and in its early days (and even later) players were typically viewed by the familiarities in their sound such as Nanri Fumio ("Japan's Louis Armstrong). If jazz was brought to Japan by the American "colonizer" even before the post-War Occupation, it was artists like Muraoka who combined it with an indigenous sound. It was jazz artists like Sonny Rollins who suggested that Japanese artists combine jazz with their native music albeit in a way that may have been offensive. Bamboo, however, does just that. What's most interesting is that through the post-colonial lens, Muraoka is not creating an entirely native music, but rather a post-colonial brand of jazz infusing native instrumentations and songs with musical elements of the American colonizer. The album opens with a track that exemplifies this view with a cover of Paul Desmond's "Take Five," only with a slight twist. In lieu of an alto saxophone and a piano, Muraoka plays shakuhachi, a traditional bamboo Japanese flute, with his band members playing the koto (a stringed instrument) and tsu-tsumi (pitched drums). The version is true to the original only with a decidedly different palette of musical colors. The second track "Mogamigawa Funauta" is a traditional song which translates to "The Mogamigawa Boatman," which originates in the Tohoku region in northeast Japan. The song has a very traditional sound, however, the addition of the electric bass adds a definite Western quality to the song, however the sections with only koto and shakuhachi sound like what may have a been a traditional way to perform the song. One of the most fascinating tracks on the entire album is "The Positive and the Negative," which combines so many different stylistic elements that it would be hard to confine it to one genre. The shakuhachi and koto create a texture that sounds much like the latter track and very songlike, yet the bass and drum set create a texture reminiscent of funk. While this form of jazz may be much more "Japanese" than most, it's hard not to notice the effect of American popular music on this album. Even in trying create a decidedly Japanese brand of jazz, there are still elements of the "colonizer" in the music. However, that's not to say I'm trying to lessen the  accomplishments of the album's innovativeness in introducing Japanese elements to a style of music that originated in the West. It's the insight that the album gives to the musical cultural exchange and relationship of Japan with the West, that makes the post-colonial lens such a tempting frame of examination to use. The next track is a cover of the Beatles tune "And I Love Her," furthering the connection between Japanese and Western popular music. This tune also introduces another traditional instrument, the biwa (a plucked string instrument, which engages in a sort of call-and-response with Muraoka's shakuhachi. "House of the Rising Sun" begins with an unaccompanied shakuhachi intro that gives way to the organ outlining chords that give way to the tune and the melody in the shakuhachi. While "House of the Rising Sun" is a very old American sun, it's difficult to see the connection The Animals version with the presence of the organ and electric guitar. "Do You Know the Way to San Jose" is also a cover, but a very lighthearted one sounding almost Latin with the rhythmic accompaniment in the bass and snare. The organ in the beginning of "Soul Bamboo" is practically transcribed directly from "Blues, Pt. 2" from the Blood, Sweat & Tears self-titled album released only a year previously. However, once the whole band comes the similarity entirely ends. While remaining in the jazz-rock style so popular during these years, Muraoka creates a great original tune utilizing some of his virtuosic technical skills on the shakuhachi. The following track is "Call Me," a song originally a Petula Clark song, but made famous by Chris Montez. However, while the Montez version is in a pop style, Muraoka's version is in a bossa nova style made obviously by the samba rhythm in the drums and the pronounced articulation in the shakuhachi. "Scarborough Fair" is the final track, and while it isn't one of the stronger tracks it further highlights the album's mixture of East and West. While the music Muraoka is covering may not be entirely American, it's probably not wrong to assume that his original exposure to this music came from Japanese relations with America. This album is a great introduction to this style of Japanese jazz that incorporates traditional elements with jazz and popular elements. I highly recommend this highly sought-after album for both its musical and cultural significance.

Gloria Martin - 1971 - Gloria Martin

Gloria Martin
Gloria Martin

01. El Hombre Aquel
02. At The Other Side Of The Sea
03. Pequeño Pájaro De Fuego
04. So As Cancoes
05. Bachilleres
06. Señoras Y Señores
07. Ciudad Universitaria
08. Mi Dulce Amigo
09. Asi Que Fácil Es
10. Si Puedes
11. A.B.C. ... A.B.C. ...
12. Amen, Amen

Guitar – Lucho Gonzalez
Vocals – Gloria Martin

This is one of Venezuela's holy grail albums. The album contains orchestral arrangements, jazz, bossa nova, collage, sound-effects, folk, early seventies rock influences and everything in between. It’s a highly sophisticated record that merges all the nostalgic beauty of Venezuela in the very early seventies (when people were still Damas y Caballeros) with student revolt, impressionistic decadence, sensuality, poetry and intellectualism.

To me this self-titled record of Venezuelan singer Gloria Martín is the absolute Holy Grail of all Venezuelan records. Actually Martín wasn’t born in Venezuela, but in Madrid and moved to Venezuela with her parents when she was nine years old. So she basically became Venezuelan. She studied philosophy and letters at the Universidad Central de Venezuela (UCV), she graduated in Arts and got a Ph.D. in cultural history.  At the same time she started a career as a singer and in Venezuela she’s mainly remembered for her Nueva Canción music. Nueva Canción was a typicial left-wing orientated musical style from Latin America (and Spain) addressing social problems in the society, usually songs on acoustic guitar highly influenced by the revolution in Cuba. Moreover it was a genre which tried to define the own identity of Latin American countries without being defined by colonialism, neo-colonialism or American influences. In Venezuela the Nueva Canción protest music was very much connected to student movements in Caracas of the sixties and seventies. Other representatives in Venezuela were people like Alí Primera, Soledad Bravo and Xulio Formoso. Gloria Martín also wrote a book about Nueva Canción in Venezuela in 1998 entitled “El perfume de una época (la Nueva Canción en Venezuela)” which I’d love to have to be able to tell more about this movement. Here you can at least find a very interesting article in Spanish about Gloria Martín and her role in the Nueva Canción Venezolana.

But this record is not one of Gloria Martín’s acoustic singer-songwriter protest albums. It’s more of an artistic showcase and does reflect the social environment, but doesn’t involve too much politics. This was an orchestrated musical masterpiece and so many years later it surprisingly shows that everything rightly got together at the moment when that recording was made. Sometimes cultural history gets captured in a recording that reflects the essence of a certain moment: true artistic pearls that are the perfect product of their time in every sense.

The compositions of the orchestra led by Venezuelan arranger Jesús Chucho Sanoja cover all the best musical styles from the early seventies and at the same time create the most amazing conditions for the beautiful voice of Gloria Martín. She was 26 years old at the time she recorded this album full of poetical beauty. Also she wrote all the lyrics herself. The album contains orchestral arrangements, jazz, bossa nova, collage, sound-effects, folk, early seventies rock influences and everything in between. It’s a highly sophisticated record that merges all the nostalgic beauty of Venezuela in the very early seventies (when people were still Damas y Caballeros) with student revolt, impressionistic decadence, sensuality, poetry and intellectualism. Considering all these dimensions, you have to be a really refined soul to be able to comply and apply these things as a youthful person going through university and at the same time being an artist. Conceptually, the album has a lot in common with certain progressive orchestrated music made for singers with studio effects and studio revisions like Serge Gainsbourg’s and Jean-Claude Vannier’s Histoire de melody Nelson (even length-wise!), but then in a Latin American context.

The main highlight of the album is the B-Side which starts after songs like “El hombre aquel” dedicated to Ché Guevara, the song “At the other side of the sea” sung in touching broken English and a bossa nova song sung in Portuguese. It kicks off with an ode to the Universidad Central de Venezuela called “Ciudad Universitaria”. The title reflects Gloria Martín’s passionate relation to her university and its social importance for her city Caracas. The lyrics are as important right now as if they were back then. They describe the paradoxical feeling of attachment  to Caracas with its beauty and danger, because of words like “Ay mi ciudad, quién ha puesto detrás cada flor un policía?” which is accompanied by studio effects creating police alarms to intensify the lyrics. Apparently that song used to be censored during the seventies, because students adopted it as a form of social critique. The song itself is full of energy and shows some of the most groovy rare groove jazz ever to come out of Venezuela. The next song “Mi dulce amigo” is a song that should have been on some Jazzanova groove-jazz compilation of old killer tracks and is an absolute masterpiece. Next is an impressionistic decadent song called “Que facil es” which expresses what goes on in the dreamy mind of a young woman and her gentle diffuse thoughts when she’s under a spell of someone. These three songs make up that part of the album which elevates it into something of unique quality and emotion. “Si puedes” is accompanied by Venezuelan Santana-like psych band La Fe Perdida that also released some singles through Philips in the early seventies: like this one and this one. A core element which is to be found throughout the whole album is the melancholy which makes it strong, it doesn’t glorify the interior nor exterior life and it’s truthful, it might also be because of her deep voice; Grace Slick like. The lyrics of each song are to be found on the inner part of the sleeve. Gloria Martín once described her song writing as:

“Para hacer una canción lo que se necesita es decir algo, tener sensibilidad ante una cosa determinada y también experiencias instantáneas o de toda la vida”. “No considero mis canciones como un éxito, sino como un conjunto de las cosas que yo siento y deseo que lleguen al corazón de la gente”.

The cover of the album looks amazing. Somehow, although not much is to be seen, one can immediately detect Venezuela in that cover. There is a graphic design idea with the rotation of the rectangle and the colours, the design on the tablet on the background and of course Gloria herself with the most amazing groovy seventies haircut and peace-sign necklace. Those elements feel really Venezuelan if you have some insight in the arts during mid-twentieth century Venezuela and mainly Caracas. The inner part of the sleeve shows Gloria in the studio and you get an idea of the left-wing intellectual groovy girl that she was.

It might look as if I glorify this album too much, but I am really touched by this piece of art and see another hidden dimension why to share this. Even more so since I visited Venezuela and could see the fossils of artistic beauty in Caracas covered in the damage of the modern condition and the neglecting of the past in the modern society. National conflicts have created a situation where people mainly want to consolidate what they benefit from the most in their particular social context and history sometimes gets manipulated to let certain political views benefit from it. Reflection on marginal artistic expressions from the past with value for cultural heritage are a lot of times viewed as a divergence from progressive developments of a modern society based on the physical evidence of wealth. A kind of regime of wealth-symbolism rules and values connected to material profit and the consolidation of social class are part of the primary dimension of how people on a short term deal with the current social struggle. I get that arts as such are of course wholly secondary when social problems raise through the roof, so basic needs for a society should be consolidated first. Still I think that precisely a struggle so critical in combination with modern indifference can cause losses for culture and history. Through those dimensions people can feel connected to each other, shape their history, have their imagination aroused and maybe even find “new old” premises to bridge the political gap. Even when art, like a left-wing protest song, is coloured by a clear political preference it still can be perceived more lightly and political conditions change throughout history. Moreover the intellectual core of people who have created this music and had been connected to student movements had a less uncompromised way of shaping their political views and were also fighting for their rights against an oppressive government during Venezuela’s seventies. So back then a left-wing orientated political philosophy also had an emancipatory dimension to it.

Nowadays politics is like growing up in religion: it exacerbates forming own opinions, because there exists no initiation of the self with the religious values.  But a change is perceivable and people are very engaged with their arts and culture. It seems that everybody knows some national cultural expression which contributes to the beauty of the country, but many things keep being scattered and fragmented in the memories of individuals and don’t find the right path to the public. In my opinion the conservation of cultural expression can for example create political plurality, but also shows something which can shape identity and have people connect to each other. At least people can learn from these individual artists how much one can extract from her/himself without being a product of commerce, excess or machismo which would already be positive no matter what political colour.

Ernesto Cardenal - 1972 - Gebet Für Marilyn Monroe & Psalm 21

Ernesto Cardenal 
Gebet Für Marilyn Monroe & Psalm 21

01. Gebet Für Marilyn Monroe
02. Psalm 21

Pressed By – Sonopress – A-0591

Bass, Vocals – Michael Burghoff
Drums, Vocals – Peter Backhausen
Flute – Klaus Dapper
Guitar – Gerd Geerken
Lyrics By – Ernesto Cardenal
Vocals – Jutta Hahn

This is a record I'm very happy to present on this blog. It's a beautiful example of how all kinds of ideological currents surfed along on the waves of hippieness and political progressiveness during the early seventies and eventually were translated to psychedelic music.

Ernesto Cardenal is a Nicaraguan priest, poet and politician. He was also minister of culture in Nicaragua at the end of the seventies. Cardenal started a christian commune in 1966 on the Solentiname Islands in Nicaragua in which they lived in poverty among indigenous farmers. This is a record he made in Germany in the early seventies with a couple of christians who were completely out of their minds. Cardenal wrote the texts and the German musicians made the musical adaptations and German translations. The first side of the record is called "Prayer for Marilyn Monroe" and has a completely pedantic and moralistic character. It tells the story of the life of Marilyn Monroe and why it was all a futile effort. The second song is called Psalm 21 and talks about war, torture and technological problems of the world. Really heavy stuff (I mean the record).

The greatest thing about the record is that the German vocalists sing both in German and Spanish. Their Spanish has an insanely strong German accent which makes it incredible. It has a similar feeling to German bands like Floh De Cologne (who would totally hate these christian people) or Dutch hippie flutist Sigurd Cochius who made one album in the early seventies. It's very groovy with amazing flutework. The flutist who is appearing on this record is Klaus Dapper who was also in Krautrock groups like Bröselmaschine and the NWW-List group Kollektiv so this record has a link to some of the proper Krautrock bands as well.

Get ready for some amazing Christian Krautrock!