Saturday, July 1, 2017

Terutsugu Hirayama - 1983 - Castle of Noi

Terutsugu Hirayama 
Castle of Noi

01. Josou to Maintitle (Opening And Maintitle)
02. Mystic World
03. Nelfelti
04. Shonen to Heitai (A Boy And Soldier)
05. Joukei (The Scene)
06. Teles Pharas Maris
I. Teles Pharas Maris
II. Mori no Naka no Tatakai (The Battle In The Wood)
07. Noi no Shiro (Castle Of Noi)
I. Noi no Shiro (Castle Of Noi)
II. Okasina Juunin Tachi (Odd People)
III. Wakare (Parting)
IV. Kaiso-Grand Finale (Memories-Grand Finale)

- Hirayama Terutsugu / Guitar, vocal, synthsizer, percussion
- Sasai Ryuji / Bass
- Nishida Ryuich / Drums
- Semba Motoi / Piano, organ, synthesizer
- Shimomachi Kaori / Vocals

An exciting, mostly instrumental, busy, 2 sided (in vinyl terms) concept album for technical keyboard fans. It's a very listenable, sung in Japanese, pompous, rolling and forceful prog... and a kitty cat choir!

Credited to Teru's Symphonia in the album notes (which is among the ONLY English words written) and recorded while he was still in Novela. Teru-san soon quit Novela (mabe in 85-86) and officially formed Teru's Symphonia. The idea was planted in 1983 but came to life soon after. His last album as Teru's Symphonia was in 1999. No one knows what he is doing now.

And so... 1983's Terutsugu Hirayama's Castle Of Noi is a fun listen. Defiantly and definitly a prog rocker. Great, complex arrangements remind me of Rush: it's drums and bass very prominent. A Genesis and Yes vibe is throughout and the smidgen of Styx's pomp... for lack of a better explanation adds to the timbre. I don't know too much of the other bands Signore Hirayama was in, but he has a history of being in a top Japanese Prog band, Novela, whose sound is not too far off. His old band spawned a Keyboard legend, Toshio Egawa, who formed the prog unit "Gerard"... an ELP wanna be band.

Pure dynamic and powerful Symphonic Prog complete with business, surprises, moments of rockin', spots of atmospheric reflection with all instruments being dominant. Some great female vocals (uh oh, misogynists beware) and not so great male vocals. Many atmospheric Casio/DX7 keys, piano, Moog style leads, aggressive Rickenbacker bass, punchy and compressed to hell rapid-fire drums, and tasteful guitar. It has enough to hold the interests of the snobbiest prog rocker save for the singing which is in Japanese...

...and the kitty cat mini-opera.

From what I gather, from the CD case's inserts/comic (I have the vinyl, too... yes, a really fat Italian-American has the vinyl), the story is about a little boy, Kuya (Koo-ya), who ventures to the Mystical World some how, inhabited by walking-talking kitty-cats (who might own the Kingdom of Noi, I suppose), elves, living trees and D&D things, through a dream (shown in the last illustrations) or through Jon Anderson's ear for all I know, to head to or save the Castle Of Noi, or whatever. After being briefed by the Kitty Cat King, Queen and the "Captain of Cat Solder" (?), or something, this poor 8 to 10 year old child, equipped with a spear, is newly recruited to fight (damn fascists) after getting drunk (!) with the other cats, and soon must battle or dethrone the monster, Teles, who might or might not have be defeated or befriended because he looks like a cute Muppet. Then our hero returns home safe and sound in bed after a tearful, heartfelt goodbye. This concludes our Anime soundtrack!

Who knows. I'm confused. I used up my comma quota for that one. The comic insert is very detailed and beautifully drawn. You can guess what's occurring. I don't know Japanese. The CD insert has all the lyrics, history and other essays included. The album has no essays.

I really enjoy the whole thing! Everyone should give this a go! The is serious musicianship on this album. It has alot to offer from a country whose music isn't heard much. It's not a difficult listen. I love the song Mystical World most. Yes (in the vocal backing as well) meets Hemispheres era Rush. Full time, half time, double time, odd time, keyboard brakes, crazy drums, Rickenbacker 4001... it's there.

It's not going to blow you away but there is not a dull moment.

Yonin Bayashi - 1978 - '73 Live

Yonin Bayashi 
'73 Live

01. Omatsuri (The Festival)
02. Soratobu Enban ni Otouto ga Nottayo (Young Brother Took a Flying Saucer)
03. Nakamura-kun no Tukutta Kyoku (The Song Written by Mr. Nakamura)
04. Issyoku-Sokuhatsu (Instant Explosion of Hair-trigger)

Daiji Okai / drums
Katsutoshi Morizono / guitars, voices
Hidemi Sakasita / keyboard
Masahide Sakuma / bass

A live album from '73 with YONIN BAYASHI who fused progressive with 70's hardrock with many instrumental passages. This CD holds 4 longs tracks only, totally dominated by skillfulled guitars and keyboards. Rich in melody and virtiouso guitar arrangements.

I have a request for the visitors of the blog... Does anyone out there have the two From The Vaults boxes and are you willing to rip us a copy of it?

Yonin Bayashi - 1979 - Neo-N

Yonin Bayashi 

01. Nocto-Vision for You (4:12)
02. Nameless (3:06)
03. Nervous Narration (5:08)
04. Notion Noise (4:45)
05. 9th Night (3:29)
06. Neo Polis (3:29)
07. Nile Green (2:59)
08. N. P. K. (4:4:2) (4:42)
09. Natural (4:33)
10. Neo Nature (0:53)

- Kasutoshi Morizono / guitar, vocals
- Kazuo Nakamura / bass, vocals
- Daiji Okai / Drums
- Hidemi Sakashita / Keyboards

Yonin Bayashi - 1978 - Bao

Yonin Bayashi

01. It's A Drowsy Morning (5:24)
02. What Can I Do For This Desperate Bitch (3:39)
03. Sweet Lover Song (5:24)
04. Beginning (4:33)
05. Mongoloid-Trek (2:12)
06. Machine Work "RAM" (3:47)
07. Moroccan Dummies (2:23)
08. Swaying Game (5:30)
09. Crystal Bomb (3:02)
10. Vuoren Huippu (2:24)

- Kasutoshi Morizono / guitar, vocals
- Kazuo Nakamura / bass, vocals
- Daiji Okai / Drums
- Hidemi Sakashita / Keyboards

Yonin Bayashi - 1977 - Printed Jelly

Yonin Bayashi
Printed Jelly

01. Ha-Re-So-Ra (6:35)
02. A Day In The Afternoon (6:08)
03. Cythere (6:30)
04. N*Y*C*R*R*M (4:07)
05. Caprice and Grace (5:33)
06. The Violet Storm (9:14)

- Mitsuru Satoh / guitar, vocal
- Daiji Okai / drums, percussion
- Masahide Sakuma / bass
- Hidemi Sakashita / keyboard

 If the band that Japan delivered for the field of Rock and prog Rock of Japan of the 70's is enumerated, the existence of this Yoninbayashi might be a band that had surely left one shape and history. Part of distinguished services to establish what should be of Rock in the 70's for band in Japan perhaps. And, they are situations of Rock that Japan thinks about in an overseas market as the band that informs them of the existence at the dawn. It influenced various musicians who followed back as a band that made music that supported them an embodiment, too.
The start of this band goes back to 1971. There was a part to which their music characters had already been established. Point that Pink Floyd and ELP had already influenced them as the respect. There was a situation where a lot of main currents of the Folk music and psychedelic existed for the market of the music of Japan in the 70's, too. Yoninbayashi had already carried a sense of direction as one of the bands that had established the music character that had to be called Prog Rock exactly in the situation. And, it was guitar player's Katsutoshi Morizono to show directionality to their music concretely. The music character with he had decided the directionality of the band to some degree. It appears remarkably by their albums to say nothing of it. The expression of the music character of "Isshoku- Sokuhatsu" that they had them announce in 1974 can listen to following the music character that exactly looks like Pink Floyd at that time. In addition, it expresses it in the music character that they were having them establish it in "Golden Picnics" announced in 1976 as a part where the unique culture of Japan was united.

There was some members' replacements after this band had formed. However, the music character established at first of the formation was advanced well. However, it will have been a reflection of the music character of Katsutoshi Morizono that had decided the music character of the band to some degree as the result. At that time, the fan of the listener and this band evaluates the album of the period high. The evaluation was widespread to an overseas musician and parties concerned further. And, it is a situation of some members' replacements as the result with the evaluation of their initial works. Or, as for the secession of the band by Katsutoshi Morizono to have decided the directionality of the band, this band inevitably constructs the flow with which following new directionality and a past work is laced. And, "Printed Jelly" of their.. third alubum faces one transition stage for Yoninbayashi.

Mitsuru Satoh of the guitar player newly invited by the band is made remarks that uneasiness was held for the process and the expression of the production of this album. As for the expression of the self to following the established music character and the deriving directionality and opening individuality, uneasiness and the expectation might have crossed each other. Their music characters have been passed as music refined further by this member's replacement. The music character at this time is music refined further in the age against uniting the element of music to be Interior Minister partial till then and to absorb. Music with the sense of relief that may leave a good element while following a past music character is blocked in this album. The music that is reminiscent of Pink Floyd and Kestrel will be Music with whom following and an original viewpoint to the music character that they have already done were united well.

"Ha-Ra-So-Ra" has been passed as a suitable tune so that they may have them execute a new music character. The tune is Rock with the sense of relief very much. The tune advances while continuing a straight melody. I might not be able to feel a past music character in this tune so much. However, the part of straight Rock and the song by solo of the keyboard and a new guitar player is expressed as a result of the band's developing new directionality. Coming in succession of solo of the guitar to get on the rhythm of Latin is devised well.

As for "A Day In The Afternoon", Rock of the city type very refined is developed. An Interior Minister part exists together to the sense of relief in the melody. Jonesy and Kestrel might be recollected as an impression. However, it is straight Rock with basically a little expression of feelings. The work of the keyboard also has a little progressive part.

In "Cythere", the melody of a beautiful guitar and the song is feature ballade. Lyrics are the songs of the sailor who aims at the Arcadia village. There is a part where Pink Floyd is recollected a little as a melody. The continuation of an effect of solo of the whistle and a gentle melody is impressive.

In "N*Y*C*R*R*M", the rhythm with the sound and the dash feeling of a progressive keyboard is a feature. The part of a powerful song and straight Rock and Roll shows the part where their music was converted further and opened. Part of solo of guitar to get on Chord with expression of feelings. The opened expression is expressed well. I feel the part where Thin Lizzy in the 80 a little's is reminiscent as the impression.

"Caprice and Grace" is a tune from which the music character that they had completely done in the past is followed enough. Part of complete song and chorus who gets on melody of refined city type. The atmosphere of the tune has been decided to the piano and the guitar to express expression of feelings a little. The negotiation on solo of a progressive keyboard and solo of the guitar is expressed well. The continuousness of five rhythms in the part of Coda might be a good flow.

"The Violet Storm" is expressed attended with shape being refined for the music character that they had them establish it. The tune gives moving development because it introduced the melody of grand symphonic into an acoustic part. Pink Floyd might be recollected to this tune a little.

Their music characters developed newer directionality from this album through the replacement of the member. Their music characters have the opinion of the approval or disapproval by the album. However, this album shows the existence as a band that they had them advocate the shape of Prog Rock of Japan.

Yonin Bayashi - 1976 - Golden Picnics

Yonin Bayashi 
Golden Picnics

01. Flying (4:20)
02. Carnival (3:59)
03. Nasu No Chawan Yaki (Continental Laid-Back-Breakers) (4:43)
04. Kool Sailer & Fools (9:01)
05. Birds & Nessy's - Oyoguna Nessy (16:55)
06. A Song For Lady Violetta (7:09)

- Daiji Okai / drums
- Katsutoshi Morizono / guitars, voices
- Hidemi Sakasita / keyboard
- Masahide Sakuma / bass

As I've mentioned before, Isshoku-Sokuhatsu may be the most famous YONIN BAYASHI's album all over the world. But believe me, I'm sure their second album Golden Picnics should be one of the most progressive and most brilliant shots in their history. And let me say, I cannot tell YONIN BAYASHI's progressive life without their first two, the most important albums.

The year after Isshoku-Sokuhatsu released, Masahide Sakuma, a new bassist and another key person, joined YONIN BAYASHI and their music style could get to be more progressive and more psychedelic. The goal was not copying from Pink Floyd but getting the rigid identity and originality. In this sense, could you notice why they should play The Beatles' "Flying" as the first track? Their Flying can get wetter, slower and more psychedelic than The Beatles', so this should let us predict what will come here. On the contrary, Carnival has dry voices and lyrics, funky and percussive kicks by drums, keyboard and guitars - with slight warmth. A rebellious rock artist out of harmony with the carnival is playing rock and roll music out of place I feel. The song is very dry but can make us warm...very wonderful. Nasu No Chawan Yaki (Continental Laid-Back-Breakers) is one of their standard numbers in live performances. In this only 5 minute gem are their terrific play and technique, their humour, and their soul of music. They always played much pleasantly this song on the stage - and now on our turntable too. Anyway, this is about boiled eggplants in a Japanese rice bowl...the last repetitive and highly speedy play can sound like the cooking completed. Boiled eggplants with nice flavour and taste, please help yourself while they are hot...? Suddenly the atmosphere will change. Kool Sailer & Fools gets started with somewhat pop and catchy flavour but don't be deceived. In the middle part, a slow but twisted tune can lengthen and shorten our brain again and again. Here are Fool's various imaginations. The lyrics, telling about the space and relationship between the sky, the sea and "me", are very psychedelic and very dreamful. And the highlight of this album is Birds & Nessy's - Oyoguna Nessy (Nessy, please don't swim, please keep quiet)! Nessy, a mysterious and imaginative animal, is our precious friend, that should not be found by adults. Well, there are lots of dangerous sounds - electronic, traffic, or fraudulent ones...please hide away from here, Nessy! These sounds, above mentioned, should be expressed by various plays of all of their instruments, with extreme psychedelia. Basically Nessy is very kind for us please, please never swim here, never open your eyes... very imaginative glimmers in front of us. We can be on Nessy's back! The end of our golden picnics will be with Lady Violetta. In A Song For Lady Violetta Katsutoshi's laidback guitar sounds are very impressive and can remind us "her" love and kindness. This graceful song may not be suitable for this progressive work but we can be completely absorbed into her deep love. 

Yonin Bayashi - 1974 - Ishoku-Sokuhatsu

Yonin Bayashi 

01. Hamabeth (0:45)
02. Sora To Kumo (5:21)
03. Omatsuri (11:13)
04. Isshoku-Sokuhatsu (12:18)
05. Ping Pong Dama No Nageki (5:04)

- Daiji Okai / drums
- Katsutoshi Morizono / guitars, voices
- Hidemi Sakasita / keyboards
- Shin'ichi Nakamura / bass

Under the shadows of Far Out, Flied Egg and Far East Family Band,Yonin Bayashi were another good Japanese psych/prog band,found in 1970 in Tokyo by Kasutoshi Morizono(guitar and vocal), KazuoNakamura(bass and vocal) and Daiji Okai(drums),initially named as ''The San-Nin'',which means three persons.In 1971 Hidemi Sakasita joins as a fourth member on keys and the band was renamed to Yonon Bayashi (quartet in old Japanese).After recording the 1973 soundtrack ''Hatachi no Genten'',they enter the discography with ''Ishoku Sokuhatsu'' a year later.

After a short intro,'' Sora To Kumo'' is a soft Psych Rock track with a great end-section,including jazzy soloing and ethereal electric piano.''Omatsuri'' clocks at 11 minutes and reminds me a lot of circa ''Caress of steel'' RUSH,while this track blends Jazz,Psychedelic and Hard Rock in one nice package.''Isshoku-Sokuhatsu'' is the definite opus of the album,either you talk about its length or quality.Long Heavy Rock number with complex passages,changing tempos,very strong organ work,excellent vocals and some extreme energy.The closing ''Ping Pong Dama No Nageki'' is an instrumental mix of Symphonic,Space and Jazz rock heavily based on Saka[&*!#]a's keys,with fantastic mellotron,bells,electric piano and some organ throughout,presenting another unknown side of the band.

These overlooked Japanese progsters deserve some attention from both Progressive and Classic Rock fans.''Ishoku Sokuhatsu'' is a fine example of Progressive Rock music,including influences from Jazz,Psychedelic and Heavy Rock as well as some symphonic touches.Recommended.

Yonin Bayashi - 1973 - 二十歳の原点 = (The Origin Of The Twenty)

Yonin Bayashi 
二十歳の原点 = (The Origin Of The Twenty)

01. The Theme Of The Origin Of The Twenty 3:23
02. 20 Years This Morning 4:08
03. Reading 1:47
04. School Fight 1:33
05. Reading 1:04
06. You Are My 5:07
07. Reading 3:29
08. Age Of Tears 4:41
09. Youth 2:13
10. Reading 2:09
11. Night 1:34
12. Reading 1:21
13. Tobacco (Night Part2) 2:45
14. Reading 5:57
15. ? 2:06
16. Reading 3:05
17. Four People At Etsuko Takano River Forests 3:03

Daiji Okai / drums
Katsutoshi Morizono / guitars, voices
Hidemi Sakasita / keyboard
Masahide Sakuma / bass

Film credits:
Hatachi No Genten "The Origin Of The Twenty"
Starring: Hachiro Kobayashi, Etsuko Takano, Tadashi Kaneko
Production Planning (Shinchosha edition) Kenjiro Omori
Director Kosuke Nakai, T. Harashima
Screenplay Takako Shigemoriaka

Found this online about the album:
There were riots in many university in Japan between late 1960s into the early 1970s. Clashes were repeated day after day and eventually, a female student was killed because of clash by mobile police.
The heroin of Hatachi no Genten is Takano Etsuko, who spent her university life in late 1960s. She really existed in Ritsumekan Daigaku (University) in Kyoto. This album was made as a sound track for the movie Hatachi no Genten' and Yoninbayashi depicts her story between 20th birthday on January 2 to June 24,the day of her suicide to train in 1969.

I am afraid if you can't speak Japanese, it may be hard to understand exactly of her story and in particular how powerfull a story it is for we Japanese. She was afflicted and her story made us distressed - riotious, broken hearted, and depressed..... Today there are not riots in Japanese universities but there is no real change between past and today's youth and the ways in which they are fumbled with their lives.

Takano Etsuko used a train to take her own life. I don't think many people would accept her decision to do this but the story of her distress makes listener's mind feel great grief that leaps across the years since this happened. I wonder how others feel when listening to it - especially if they are not Japanese? Is it a difficult album?

I want to write about this music. As I said above, this album was made as a sound track for movie. To my surprise,it was released 8 months ago of official first album ''Isshoku Sokuhatsu''. Hatachi no Genten is different a little from their other releases - Isshoku Sokuhatsu and Golden Picnics because of it is a soundtrack. It is, however, still a very attractive work.

Though the story and musical colour differ from Queensryche's Operation:Mindcrime and Pink Floyd's The Wall it must be estimated in such category of music. It is possible that Yoninbayashi are famous for their masterpieces Isshoku Sokuhatsu and Golden Picnics outside of Japan,too. If you are already collecting these other exceptional releases then please remember this album. It too is an important masterpiece. All members of Yoninbayashi were all teenagers at that time!!

Cosmos Factory - 1977 - Metal Reflection

Cosmos Factory 
Metal Reflection

01. Down the highway
02. Shades of time
03. Violent heat
04. Rainy day dreams
05. A glass of happiness
06. Sexy cats
07. Strato-dynamite
08. White moon
09. Metal reflection

- Tsutomu Izumi / keyboards, vocals, cembalo, guitars
- Hisashi Mizutani / guitars, vocals
- Kazu Okamoto / drums, percussion
- Toshikazu Taki / bass, guitars, vocals
- Kuni Toyoda / drums, percussion

After releasing a nice debut cosmos factory changed their sound, evolved and released a very good second album. A year later the band returned with their third album which is no less than a masterpiece of heavy psychedelic prog, taking some clear influences from king crimson that period. One thing that is typical for them is changing their sound and style in every album, well this one is not different, in fact this is their biggest change of style. Out goes the crimsonian influences frippian guitars and wacky keys and in comes some funk influences and a more accessible rock style.

Cosmos are already a good band and are incapable of playing bad, so what we have here are a set of funky based rock songs played in a high level of musicianship. The songs are not straight forward but they don't evolve or contain big solos, although incorporating some flutes, saxophone and the keys they do not manage of sounding progressive. There are 9 tracks all are short and have one idea presented each time. The music is overall good and fun there is some good guitar moments featuring short solos. The keys are not bad and does have some nice moments but they are not prominent.

Cosmos Factory - 1976 - Black Hole

Cosmos Factory 
Black Hole

01. Black hole
02. The vague image
03. The hard image
04. Crystal solitaire
05. A wandering young man
06. Days in the past
07. Mirror freak
08. Magic Window

- Tsutomu Izumi / vocals, keyboards
- Hisashi Mizutani / vocals, guitars, percussion
- Kazuo Okamoto / drums, percussion
- Toshikazu Taki / vocals, bass

This is some pretty heavy stuff and I am almost certain one of the most innovative things coming out of Asia as far as heavy music is concerned..even by today's standards...and this was nearly 30 years ago. The music is drenched in organ and hard rockin' guitars with nice bass anchoring the music and keyboards adding a moody...almost sinister overtone in some areas. Black hole is the best track, especially the ending. considering how few prog rock bands came from Asia,

Cosmos Factory - 1975 - A Journey With The Cosmos Factory

Cosmos Factory 
A Journey With The Cosmos Factory

01. Sunday's happening (4:14)
02. Daydream (2:42)
03. Hiver (3:47)
04. Confusion (2:15)
05. The infinite universe of our mind (4:28)
06. The sea (5:14)
07. A hidden trap (2:07)
08. Wind in the morning (a trip) (3:44)
09. Journey of no destination (4:52)
10. The cosmogram (2:24)

- Tsutomu Izumi / keyboards, Mellotron, synthesizers, tape effects, percussion, vocals
- Hisashi Mizutani / guitars, vocals, tape effects, sounds
- Kazuo Okamoto / drums, percussion, timpani, voice, electronic drums
- Toshikazu Takeuchi / basses, piano, percussion, tape effects, vocoder, vocals

+ Mr. Campbell Gray / narration

The debut album An Old Caste Of Transylvania by Cosmos Factory is one of my favorite Japanese progrock records, what a lush vintage keyboards (lots of Mellotron and Hammond). On their second album Cosmos Factory mentioned on the cover instruments like self-made symphonizer, tape effects, talking bag, funny cat, hitting a door and synthesized voice .. so prepare for a hypnotizing trip to a psychedelic world! Indeed, most pieces sound a bit freaky and psychedelic but some songs are more symphonic rock like the dreamy The Sea (early Pink Floyd sound) and Journey Of No Destination (great soaring Hammond organ). The opener Sunday's Happening has some bizarre parts and Hiver and Daydream are on the edge of nerveracking music, you have to be up to this kind of music. For me it is a bit too complex and experimental but at least you can say that this is adventurous progressive music.

Cosmos Factory - 1973 - An Old Castle Of Transylvania

Cosmos Factory 
An Old Castle Of Transylvania

01. Soundtrack 1984
02. Maybe
03. Soft focus
04. Fantastic mirror
05. Poltergeist
06. An old castle of Transylvania:
I) Forest of the death
II) The cursed
III) Darkness of the world
IV) An old castle of Transylvania

- Tsutomu Izumi / keyboards, Mellotron, synthesizers, vocals
- Hirashi Mizutani / guitars, vocals
- Kazuo Okamoto / drums, percussion
- Toshikazu Taki / bass, vocals
+ Misao / violin

Formed in 1970, in the ugly industrial city of Nagoya, from the ruins of GS outfit The Silencer, this progressive rock band was courted by a local rock critic who took the band under his managerial wing. They played the local scene for a couple of years before gaining anything more than local success. Cosmos Factory took their marvellous name from a wholly cosmic misreading of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s LP COSMO’S FACTORY, which has unfortunately led many to believe that they were a space rock band. Instead, they were just a fairly bombastic bunch with a good line in titles. Their best LP is the debut AN OLD CASTLE IN TRANSYLVANNIA, but even this is keyboard heavy in an Italian progressive style, and only the epic title track that closes the album enters the realms of real experiment. Otherwise, their work dwells in the same areas as The Nice, Arzachel and early King Crimson. The band finally made its name as support for The Moody Blues and signed to Columbia Records in 1973, releasing the aforementioned debut that same year. Thereafter, the band signed a better deal with Toshiba’s hip Express label, and embarked on the unusual policy of releasing EPs. First came FANTASTIC MIRROR, followed by THE INFINITE UNIVERSE OF YOUR MIND and DAYS IN THE PAST, each appearing throughout 1975. Their second LP A JOURNEY WITH COSMOS FACTORY was released the same year. Film soundtrack work altered their music somewhat, giving it a harder, more clinical edge, and the musical arrangements of their final LPs BLACKHOLE and METAL REFLECTION were more Spartan than the previously lush arrangements of earlier albums, and not heavy metal as the titles would suggest. Julian Cope

COSMOS FACTORY were a Japanese band from the seventies and this is their debut, a heavy psychedelic recording for the most part. Lots of organ and guitar plus some welcomed mellotron.
I find that half of this album is very good while the other half not so much.

"Soundtrack 1984" is a top three for me and an instrumental. A bass/ drum intro here as mellotron rolls in. I really dig the guitar, especially after 1 1/2 minutes. "Maybe" is heavy with floating organ. How good is the mellotron and vocal melodies before a minute. The heaviness will be contrasted with the calmer vocal sections with organ. Some nice guitar before 3 minutes that goes on and on until that mellotron/ vocal melody passage from earlier is reprised. This song sounds like a late sixties tune, I really like it.

"Soft Focus" features keys and harp-like sounds and is very much a ballad with sappy vocals. "Fantastic Mirror" has an RPI vibe with the keyboard sounds. Unfortunately this is contrasted with sugary sections where the vocals just don't sound very good. Not a fan overall but it has it's moments. "Poltergeist" is bouncy with pulsating keys and drums not fitting the title of the song in my opinion. There is guest violin on this one that I'm not into, sounds like acoustic violin. The guitar, organ and violin take turns leading the way.

"An Old Castle Of Transylvania" suite includes the last four tracks and the songs blend into one another. Other than the first track this is the highlight of the album. "Forest Of The Death" is dark and brooding, experimental too with organ and synths standing out. A change after 2 1/2 minute as the drums come in and slowly build and the organ arrives with power. Check out the guitar! Great tune and top three for me. "The Cursed" continues with the darkness as the organ floats in before it all turns dramatic after a minute with the guitar and drums joining in. Vocals before 2 minutes then the guitar returns as it will come and go. Excellent!

"Darkness Of The World" is similar in sound again but more uptempo and more powerful, at least until the vocals arrive and it settles back some. Powerful organ ends it as it blends into my final top three "An Old Castle Of Transylvania". Guitar joins the powerful organ and steady drums quickly. I like how the guitar soars before 2 minutes. Mellotron follows then vocals before 3 minutes. A minute later we get this stunning ending of thunder cracks, rain and wind. It's like your right there in this wild storm.

Masahiko Togashi - 1969 - We Now Create

Masahiko Togashi 
We Now Create

01. Variations on a Theme of 'Feed-Back' (11:58)
02. Invitation to 'Corn Pipe' Dance (7:13)
03. Artistry in Percussions (9:24)
04. Fantasy for Strings (8:56)

Recorded at Tokyo Studio Center on May 23, 1969.

Masahiko Togashi - drums
Mototeru Takagi - tenor saxophone, cornpipe
Masayuki Takayanagi - guitar
Motoharu Yoshizawa - bass, cello

So I’ve been reading E. Taylor Atkin’s Blue Nippon, a fascinating book that provides a history of jazz in Japan from its inception (around 1925) to the 80s, delving into concepts such as musical authenticity and cultural identity that are easily applicable to my own experiences with Australian Jazz. The book references many records that I have had to chase up to fill in the gaps, one of which being Masahiko Togashi’s We Now Create, released in 1969, well into Japan’s free-jazz boom of the 60s. Togashi, a prodigy drummer rendered paraplegic in an accident, experimented deeply with rhythm and texture, using a mixture of traditional Japanese percussion and Western orchestral instruments. Togashi was a major exponent in the movement during the 60s pursuing the notion of a unique, ‘Japanese’ jazz style, so the meaning of the album title, I think, is self-evident. Many Japanese musicians during this time sought to break free from the stereotype of Japanese jazz as derivative and unoriginal. A quote from Atkin’s book turned me onto Togashi:

In Oriental thought because there is existence [有(yuu)] there is nothingness [無(mu)]. Because there is nothingness there is existence…. So by not playing a sound, you can make a combination of sounds, by making nothingness you create – totally different from Western thinking. So American and Japanese ‘concepts of space’ are different.
– Togashi

This concept of using silence, or ‘space’ in improvised music, wasn’t particularly new to me, but the new wording intrigued me, so I was curious to hear how Togashi implemented his ‘Oriental’ concept of 無, nothingness into his music.

The opening 2 minutes of the first track – Variations On A Theme of Feed-Back – features a beautiful introduction by Takayanagi, masterfully controlling feedback and balancing dissonance and consonance (will definitely be checking out some of his other work). The track progresses to high-energy improvisation, with Takagi wailing over the group, Togashi sometimes pushing the intensity, sometimes backing off with sparse textural contributions. Yoshizawa alternating between wild dissonant walking and rhythmic arco, with Takayanagi tying it all down with repeated riffs and simple melodies, often being caught up in the energy of the other three.

The other tracks follow the same theme of solo interludes developing into group improvisations. In ‘Artistry in Percussions’ the entire quartet plays percussion, making for some beautiful textures. By far the highlights of this album however, for me, are the sparser moments where each musician has space to themselves to create (here I’ll borrow Togashi’s words) both mu and yu. During the explosive moments of collective improvisation, it seems to me that the musician’s individual voices become less distinct (maybe I’m trying to hard to hear them, unfamiliar as I am with all four musicians). The fourth and final track, Fantasy For Strings, I found to have a perfect balance, with each musician speaking cohesively and thoughtfully.

So could I hear Togashi’s ‘Oriental’ sense of space? Not particularly, although this is the only album of his so far that I’ve heard, so I’ll continue my investigation. What I have learnt, however, is that I’m in love with Masayuki Takanayagi’s guitar playing. Definitely interested to hear some of his projects.
by nirandasika

Hozan Yamamoto With Sharps And Flats - 1971 - Beautiful Bamboo-Flute

Hozan Yamamoto With Sharps And Flats 
Beautiful Bamboo-Flute

01. Kokiriko Bushi
02. Sado Okesa
03. Tairyo Utaikomi
04. Soma Bon-Uta
05. Komoro Mago-Uta
06. Nanbu Ushioi-Uta
07. Itsuki No Komori-Uta
08. Hietsuki-Bushi
09. Yasuki-Bushi
10. Yosakoi-Bushi
11. Kuroda-Bushi

Hozan Yamamoto, shakuhachi
Nobuo Hara, conductor
Sharps and Flats, orchestra

Recorded on 11 & 14 January 1971 at Victor Studio, Tokyo

One of the coolest albums ever cut by Japanese wood flute player Hozan Yamamoto – a set that has him working with very groovy backings from the Sharps & Flats ensemble – who almost give the whole thing an MPS label blending of funky jazz and world music sounds! The approach is wonderful – a bit more upbeat and swinging than some of Yamamoto's other records, as Nobuo Hara leads the larger group with a totally cool sound – which makes the flute lines a sweet exotic touch over straightforward, soul-drenched, big band jazz! We might even link the sound to some of Dorothy Ashby's grooviest albums for Chess/Cadet – although with flute, instead of harp

Wow, this is not at all what I expected. Big band jazz-rock shakuhachi, very hip. I didn't realize I needed this in my collection for whenever I needed that electric-bass-plus-horn-section-world-folk vibe... then I went online to look for it and found that the only one for sale was going for well over 2500 USD! So I got the CD for a little bit

Hozan Yamamoto & Tadao Sawai - 1969 - A New Sound From The Japanese Bach Scene

Hozan Yamamoto & Tadao Sawai 
A New Sound From The Japanese Bach Scene 

01. Toccata And Fugue In D Minor 4:20
02. Jesu, Joy Of Man's Desiring 2:30
03. Prelude No.1 2:21
04. Fugue No.1 (From The Well-Tempered Clavier, Book I) 2:51
05. Sleepers, Wake! 2:30
06. Polonaise (From Orchestral Suite No.2) 3:13
07. Bourree I (From English Suite No.2) 2:55
08. Two - Part Invention No.1 1:24
09. Air On The G-String (From Orchestral Suite No.3) 3:16
10. Minuet In G (From The Notebook For Anna Magdalena) 2:42
11. Arioso (Sinfonia From Cantata No.156) 3:25
12. Gavotte I (From English Suite No.3) 2:04
13. Bourree (From Partita No.1 For Solo Violin) 3:03
14. Minuet In G Minor (From The Notebook For Anna Magdalena) 2:16
15. "Little" Fugue In G Minor 4:01

Tadao Sawai: Koto
Kazue Sawai: Koto
Hozan Yamamoto: Shakuhachi
Sadanori Nakamure: Guitar
Tatsuro Takimoto: Bass
Takeshi Inomata: Percussion

It's Bach... You know most of this by heart (Or at least you should) but... here comes the twist... played on Koto and Shakuhachi... Needs to be heard to believe how cool this sounds!

Yuji Ohno - 1971 - My Little Angel

Yuji Ohno 
My Little Angel

01. Mr. Happy-Gon
02. My Foolish Heart
03. Alone Together
04. A Boy On A Dolphin
05. My Little Angel
06. By The Time I Get To Phoenix
07. On Green Dolphin Street
08. My One And Only Love

Bass – Yoshio Ikeda
Drums – Kazuyoshi Okayama
Piano – Yuji Ohno

Recorded..1971 At.Victor Studio In TOKYO

Yuji Ohno (born 30 May 1941 in Atami, Shizuoka, Japan) also known as MahouP is a Japanese jazz musician. Ohno is principally known for his musical scoring of Japanese anime television series, of which Lupin III, specifically the 1977 series Lupin III Part II and the feature film The Castle of Cagliostro. Later anime series scored by Ohno include Shingu: Secret of the Stellar Wars, the 1979 Toei series Captain Future (known as Capitaine Flam in France) and the 1982 series Space Adventure Cobra. He has composed scores for live-action films, namely Toei's tokusatsu series Seiun Kamen Machineman, his only work on this genre to date.

Toshiyuki Tsuchitori - Ryuichi Sakamoto - 1975 - Disappointment - Hateruma

Toshiyuki Tsuchitori  Ryuichi Sakamoto 
1975 - Disappointment 

01. Aya 20:05
02. Utsuwa No Naka 6:10
03. Music Differenciell 1° 13:50
04. Music Differenciell 2° 6:10

Drums, Gong, Grand Piano, Cymbal, Bells, Wood Block, Marimba, Glockenspiel, Kalimba [Thumb Piano], Bongos, Synthesizer [Ems], Voice, Temple Block, Performer [Bamboo Clutters] – Ryuichi Sakamoto, Toshiyuki Tsuchitori

Recorded at Lisrec Studio and Gyoen Music Studio, Tokyo, August and September 1975.

This is the most experimental and dissonant Sakamoto I've heard. Very Cage/Conlon Nancarrow influenced, wild piano and percussion. Challenging, but Sakamoto seems incapable of making an unpleasant album, so still fun to listen to. Not the best place to start, but a fascinating album for fans...

Kenji Mori - 1974 - Solo & Trio

Kenji Mori 
Solo & Trio

01. Alto Form I 16:37
02. Early Summer 8:00
03. Dance Of Caravan 14:00

Alto Saxophone – Kenji Mori
Bass – Tamio Kawabata
Drums – Arihide Kurata
Piano – Hideo Ichikawa

Recorded March 26 (Side A) & March 22 (Side B), 1974 at Toshi Center Hall, Tokyo.

Hope someone has some info on this one...