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Archive for the ‘Japanese Music’ Category

20000000SOUNDTRACK: KAWABATA MAKOTO [河端一]-I’m in Your Inner Most (2001).

a3548319280_16Recently, Kawabata Makoto [河端一], mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple, revealed a new bandcamp site for some newer releases.

This is Kawabata Makoto’s minimal music works by his own ensemble reissued in 2002 with a bonus track.

This album is in fact two parts of the same song (technically). And they’re the first of his solo works to predominantly feature organ.  It also features artwork by Kawabata Sachiko

“I’m In Your Inner Most Part.1″ (19.11)  starts with a repeated organ riff and (the inevitable) high-pitched feedback sounds.  This one also has the voice of Audrey Ginestet repeating one word (drift? drip? something in French?).  Every few measure a new item is added and repeated–mostly organ notes in a pattern or a scale.  The last five minutes or so feels like a two note siren as the high notes soar around the top.”

I’m In Your Inner Most Part.2″  (20.24)  opens with that repeated word.  This piece feels a biot more like an improv with organ and the tambura rotating through.

Kawabata Makoto is credited with electric organ, electric harpsichord, violin, tambura, percussion, electronics and electric guitar on this release.

The bonus track is called “Osculation (remix version)”  (15.32).  I can’t tell exactly what it is remixing as it sounds like parts of both songs are melded together.  There is a lot of church organ sounds and repeating motifs.  But around 11 minutes a grinding noise comes into the song and start to take over until the end is just all noise.

Like most of Kawabata’s solo album, this one feels improvised and off the cuff.  The inclusion of the organ however, makes this one solitary in his vast catalog.

[READ: June 13, 2020] “Man-Eating Cats”

Twenty years apart, Murakami has two surreal stories about animals. Actually, this one is far less surreal than the monkey story, but there is a supernatural component for sure.

The story opens with the narrator reading to Izumi from the newspaper.  The article is about a woman who died and her cats ate her–they had been alone in the apartment for about a week with no food.

Izumi wants to know what happened to the cats, but the paper doesn’t say.  She wonders if he were the town’s mayor or chief of police, would he have the cats put down?  He suggests reforming them into vegetarians, but Izumi didn’t laugh at that. (more…)

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june8SOUNDTRACK: KAWABATA MAKOTO [河端一]-Jellyfish Rising (2005).

a1318054058_16Recently, Kawabata Makoto [河端一], mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple, revealed a new bandcamp site for some newer releases.

This is another one of Kawabata Makoto’s minimal music works by electric guitars.  It also has two lengthy tracks.

“Astral Aurelia Aurita Laavarek” (28:05) is an echoing looping solo guitar piece.  It is chill and pretty. The looping is fairly quick until about 11 minutes when he slows it down to single notes.  The faster notes are still floating around in the background–ever so slowly fading away.  The pace speeds up and slows down through the rest of the song, creating a wall of new agey vibes.

“Meditation Of Pelagia Panopyra Perea” (27:16) is a similar style but deeper notes and a much lower backing drone.  This whole piece feels less relaxing but still soothing in a different way.

This might be my favorite solo record so far.

[READ: June 13, 2020] “Confessions of a Shinagawa Monkey”

The narrator met the titular monkey about five years ago in Gunma Province at a small Japanese-style inn.  He had arrived at the hot springs town and needed a place to crash for the night.  The place was practically a flophouse, but it was cheap and it was just one night.

But the hot springs bath was wonderful.  He was by himself and he spent a long time there, getting light-headed.

That’s when the monkey walked in and said “Excuse me.”  The monkey asked if the bath was satisfactory and if the narrator would like his back scrubbed (he did).

The monkey “didn’t have any clothes on.  Which, of course, is usually the case for a monkey, so it didn’t strike me as odd.” (more…)

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june8SOUNDTRACK: KAWABATA MAKOTO [河端一]-That Awaking: Good​-​bye Me (2020).

a0192176181_16Recently, Kawabata Makoto [河端一], mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple, revealed a new bandcamp site for some newer releases.

This album is his most recent release (and I believe the impetus for this new site).

This album has two sons, each over a half an hour.

On “Summoning Souls To Meet” (35:47), a quiet, pretty acoustic guitar melody plays throughout the background while on top comes a series of electric guitar noises an explorations.  It’s a pretty improvisational song that never goes too crazy in the experimentation (although there are a few times when he plays some wild solos).  That acoustic melody keeps it grounded.

“That Awaking : Good-bye Me” (31.29) opens with a piercing sound which slowly morphs into another beautiful acoustic melody.  He then overdubs a pretty electric wah wah guitar solo.  It’s a lovely piece of music, although I wish that piercing ringing note was not there (it wouldn’t be Kawabata if there weren’t some high frequency sound floating around).  Eventually, you lose that high note amid the wonderful soloing he’s doing.  It’s soaring and psychedelic, sometimes fast sometimes echoing.  The last ten minutes or so seem to have some backwards looping going on.

Kawabata Makoto recorded this in May 2020 using electric guitar, acoustic guitar, and driftbox.

[READ: June 13, 2020] “White Noise”

This story is about Harvey Weinstein, except that it technically isn’t.

It’s about a movie mogul named Harvey who is on trial for abusing women.  It basically covers a short time before his verdict.

I wondered why Cline would feel compelled to write this fictionalized account of such a dreadful man.  I don’t often read the accompanying interviews with writers (I guess I should). The important takeaway is that “Curiosity about a consciousness doesn’t translate into endorsement.” (more…)

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june8SOUNDTRACK: KAWABATA MAKOTO [河端一]-Mizu Naranu Ao Ni Sae [水ならぬ青にさへ] (1998).

a1335809529_16Recently, Kawabata Makoto [河端一], mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple, revealed a new bandcamp site for some newer solo recordings.

 This album is more along the lines of what you might expect from Kawabata Makoto: electric guitar solos from 1998.

Dazzling music for the temporal world, overflowing with a sense of pellucidity totally different from his work with Musica Transonic.

The album has two songs.

The first is “Mai Sagarisi Negai [舞い下がりし願ひ] (16:38). .   It is loops of guitar noises and feedback.  It’s not a lot of guitar “playing” but more like guitar experimenting.

“Amou No Shibuki [天生の水沫] (17:59) is different.  It features ringing, chiming guitars and sounds like he has something metallic resting on the strings to keep everything vibrating.  This one is more spacey.

[READ: June 13, 2020] “Pursuit as Happiness”

I haven’t read a ton of Ernest Hemingway.  Honestly, his stories of hunting and boxing and whatever other masculine things he was up to while somehow also being a sissy writer never appealed to me.

This is the story of the pursuit, capture and slaughter of marlins.  Now frankly, I think a marlin is about the coolest thing in the ocean.  And while it may be very manly to wrestle one in with just a fishing line, it sure seems like a waste of a beautiful fish.

So Ernest (for the narrator’s name is Ernest Hemingway) and the captain of the boat he was on fished off of Cuba for a month.  They caught twenty-five but that wasn’t enough, so they went back for more. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: October 24, 2019] Hyde

I had taken C. to a couple of live shows before and he had been to see Ice Nine Kills with his friends.  But this was my first time taking him to see a club concert.

This was going to be a long night too.  Four bands!  With the opening band going on at 7 and Starset ending around 11 (and it was a school night!).

After A Brilliant Lie, some people moved around and we were right in the middle for Hyde.

When I looked up this concert I saw that  lot of people were more excited about Hyde than anyone else.  Someone even suggested that Hype might play solo–just him and his guitar.

I had no idea who Hyde was, but based on that (erroneous) information I assumed he might be a metal guy doing some mellower songs.

Boy was I wrong. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 13, 2019] Babymetal

I first heard of BABYMETAL back in 2014 when they were a massive WTF in the music scene.

Here was a band that played heavy heavy music but the singers were teenage Japanese girls who were totally kawaii and who sang in a distinctly pop style.  The 17-year-old metal purist in me would have been infuriated by this abomination to metal.

But my adult self things this is an amazing amalgam of style and one that is designed to shake people out of their comfortable bubbles.   Even if you balk at the singing style (and the dancing), the music is really really heavy.  Like, impressively heavy.

But the juxtaposition doesn’t end there.  Between the heavy music comes occasional moments of synthy pop goodness.  It made my brain explode the first time I watched the video for “Gimme Chocolate.”  By the time I watched it a second time I was hooked and was determined to see them live.

Back in 2016, I somehow missed that they were playing the Electric Factory.  I was seeing Mastodon there two nights before their show but when I asked if there were any tickets left, they had sold out ages ago.  Boo!  [Looking at that setlist I see they played seven different songs last time!]

So, three and a half years later they finally came back into town and I bought a ticket right away.  Actually, I was supposed to be away for the weekend so I bought a ticket for Sunday in New York City.  This would have been so much work because I would have just come back from a camping trip, I would have had to drive into NYC to a place I’ve never been and it was a Sunday night.  So I was glad the trip was cancelled and I could go on Friday night after all!

I arrived and ran past the merch hoping to get a decent spot, but it was pretty packed.  I managed to get behind some short people and all was well for the opening band.  Then, when Avatar left, somehow 200 people pushed their way in front of all of us who felt like we were packed in pretty tight already.  I didn’t step back at all but somehow twice as many people were in front of me.  Woah. (more…)

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amazSOUNDTRACK: KAWABATA MAKOTO [河端一]-INUI 2 (2000).

a1729275931_16Kawabata Makoto [河端一] is the guitarist and mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple. The band is hugely prolific. But he still had time to record solo albums. Often times without any guitar.

This was Kawabata’s second solo LP, now available on bandcamp

INUI 2 was the first widely available solo CD by this prolific Japanese guitarist/composer/bearded guru. Known primarily for his recent work with oddballs Acid Mothers Temple, Kawabata’s career actually goes back to the late ’70s and spans many styles, including solo guitar improv, electronics, folk, and, of course, the deranged acid mayhem associated with the PSF scene. Performed entirely solo on violin, kemenje, zurna, electronics, sarangi, taiko, gong, water, bouzouki, cello, vibes, organ, and sitar, the four tracks that make up INUI 2 are perfectly executed dream-music, equal parts delicately floating and heavily droning. There’s also one all-too-short modal essay for bouzouki that is amazingly beautiful.

“Mou” (9:56) has a drone underpinning the song as he plays a quiet keyboard melody over the top.  About half way through the zurna comes in playing its somewhat harsh melody (although it is less harsh here).  This is a pretty cool chill out song.  [Instruments: Violin, kemenje, zurna, electronics].

“Meii” (11:02) is composed of slowly plucked sarangi strings.  They ring out loud and are accompanied by thumps on the taiko and occasional crashes of the gong. There is also a high pitched feedback/electronic sound that rings out form time to time.   About midway through the bowing become s a little wild and improvisational until it settles back down again.  [Instruments: Sarangi, taiko, gong, water].

“Shi” (3:47) is the ‘all too short” piece and I agree that it is too short.  It features a quietly plucked string melody on the bouzouki that is very pretty.  It has mild drones behind it.  About half way through the melody changes, a faster more deliberate style but still quiet and pleasing.  I could listen to this one for much much longer.  [Instruments: bouzouki, cello, vibe, organ].

“Kan” (14:18) starts as harsh electronic drone with occasional blips of hi frequency sounds.   It’s the first unpleasant sound on the disc.  Although after 2 and a half minutes, the string drones enter and smooth things over.  At some point a pulsing possibly, backwards recorded series of notes comes in to give the drone some drive.  [Instruments: bowed sitar, violin, electric sitar, electronics].

[READ: September 10, 2019] “Ranch Girl”

This brief story was collected in Meloy’s Half in Love.

It starts with the fatalistic sentence:

If you’re white and you’re not rich or poor but somewhere in the middle it’s hard to have worse luck than to be born a girl on a ranch.

The unnamed protagonist grew up the daughter of the foreman of the Ted Haskell Running H Ranch.  Haskell’s brand was a slanted H–she had seen it all her life and didn’t know an H was supposed to be upright until she went to school. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: September 7, 2019] Boris

It was almost exactly two years ago that I first saw Boris.  They had come out with a new record and were actually thinking of calling it quits.  But they were inspired to do a tour, which I was sure was their last one, and it was spectacular.

Yet in the last two years they have signed to Third Man Records and have done a live session there.  They are just about to release a two album set called Love Evol (technically Lφve Evφl) and reissue Feedbacker and Akuma No Uta.  So when they announced that they were coming back–and coming to Jersey City–there was no way I could pass it up, even if it meant three concerts in three days.

Especially since the last time they played pretty much the whole new album, which was great, but I wanted to hear some older stuff too.

After the previous two nights of cutting it very close to the start of the show, I knew I wanted to get their early, in part because I had some merch to buy.  I’ve gotten very frugal about buying merch and I often don’t buy anything.  But Boris is a band that’s hard to find stuff here.  And even though Third Man was reissuing records which would mean they are much easier to get, I wasn’t taking any chances . So I arrived plenty early, bought some vinyl (and now greatly regret not buying the Tears EP, which I somehow didn’t know about and now see that it is impossible to get anywhere else). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: May 20,2019] Mono

It seems entirely possible that I could subsist on rock bands from Japan for a couple of months.  Between Acid Mothers Temple, Boris and now Mono, I have an amazing collection of experiences both on record and in person.

I was unfamiliar with Mono when Union Transfer announced that they’d be playing a “big, intense show, like usual.”  But I had to check them out…  (especially since tickets were only $10–a criminally low price for such an amazing show).

Mono has released some ten albums (plus EPs and more) since 2001.   They have been a band since 1999 with only one lineup change.  The original drummer left in 2018 and was replaced by New Yorker Dahm Majuri Cipolla. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 21, 2018] Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O.

I saw Acid Mothers Temple around this time last year and it was an amazing experience.  It was too loud, too intense, too much…and I couldn’t wait to see them again.

The pictures in this post look terrible for some reason.  The originals were actually quite nice–must be a web compression thing.

Evidently they come around to the Northeast pretty regularly in the spring, so I was super psyched to see them again in the same place.  Then we decided to go on vacation that week instead.  I was bummed to miss them (but psyched for vacation, of course).  Then I saw that they were playing the night before we left in The Saint. I loved The Saint as a venue and knew I would love seeing Acid Mothers Temple there. (more…)

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