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    Fushitsusha – The Caution Appears

    January 27th, 2008

    Fushitsusha - The Caution Appears

    This French import is just a little bit louder than French toast. There’s not much subtlety involved here as Keiji Haino and company go straight for your most vital veins. It’s an extremely vicious guitar, bass and drums carnivore with improv tracks ranging in length from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. There’s even a rocker or two thrown in for all of you rollers out there. The last track contains the most soaring, deeply-felt, anguished guitar playing I’ve ever heard in my entire life—even surpassing Loren Mazzacane’s emotion-soaked forays like Hell’s Kitchen Park. Unbelievable.

    Label: Les Disques du Soleil et de L’Acier Catalog Number: CDSA 54039 Format: CD Packaging: Digi-Pack Tracks: 10 Total Time: 65:01 Country: France Released: 1995 Related Artists: Keiji Haino More: Forced Exposure, Official, Poison Pie, PSF, Wikipedia

    Fushitsusha – Pathetique

    January 27th, 2008

    Fushitsusha - Pathetique

    Like most of Keiji Haino’s cover artwork, Pathetique’s mini-LP-style gatefold jacket is covered top-to-bottom with dark ink on black paper, underscoring the immense depth of the ideas, emotions and sounds contained therein.

    The CD opens with a stately, slowly descending pile of crunch chords and amp-whistle clocking in at a mere five minutes (the blink of a hummingbird’s eye in Haino’s universe), serving as a more-than-adequate intro to all the lost squall and splendor to follow. Track two’s supremely slop-o-guitar sound-shards chop and challenge and veer startingly into full-on destruction and modern psych passages that sear all synonyms. Song number three shifts repeatedly from an extremely catchy yet dissonant, descending, mantra-rock groove into more improvised, feedback bliss at all the “wrong” moments—which sounds so right. At well over 40 minutes, track four stretches out a solid ocean of electronic guitar distortion into one of those “timeless / infinite moments” Haino discussed when profiled in The Wire magazine.

    Overall, this album spreads out easily like jagged peanut butter across a very high plateau on Keiji Haino’s extremely personal mountain (Live II being the very summit). As often as possible, I exit this reality and go slipping, tripping into another. With sound as transcendent as this, it’s easy. Let Air Fushitsusha spirit you away. Flights departing nightly.

    Label: PSF Catalog Number: PSFD-50 Format: CD Packaging: Mini-LP gatefold Tracks: 4 Total Time: 74:55 Country: Japan Released: 1995 Related Artists: Keiji Haino More: Forced Exposure, Official, Poison Pie, Wikipedia

    Fushitsusha – Allegorical Misunderstanding

    January 27th, 2008

    Fushitsusha - Allegorical Misunderstanding

    A surprisingly subdued Fushitsusha move through 10 “movements” of “Magic” on this unusual, dark camping trip—especially notable for the absence of Haino’s massive realms of guitar effects and distortion. Comprised of nothing more than simple guitar, bass, drums and vocals—typical instruments handled in a very atypical manner—Allegorical Misunderstanding still maintains the quintessential air of cyclical intensity of all Fushitsusha efforts.

    After a short, stately intro, the band launch into eight-and-a-half minutes worth of repetitive dream-drifting piloted by some very nice trance-strum guitar and spackled drums—all anchored down by a simple, three-note bass line. The last minute or so of this track is awe-inspiring with some very beautiful, high-pitched guitar wailing as the band climaxes to a halt. Tracks two through eight are mostly in a short, quirky mode—including occasional moaning or screeching vocals with forays into a little distortion. “Magic IX” is the centerpiece—a 14-minute web of reverb-drenched, psychedelic guitar swirls backed by another amazingly simple bass line and drum haze that take you on a dizzying journey into the depths of existence.

    Black cover, as usual, but this time it comes complete with a beautiful silver and blue cloud floating near the bottom. Perfect.

    Label: Avant Catalog Number: AVAN 008 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 10 Total Time: 48:27 Country: Japan Released: 1993 Related Artists: Keiji Haino More: Forced Exposure, Official, Poison Pie, PSF, Wikipedia

    Fushitsusha – 1991.9.26

    January 25th, 2008

    Fushitsusha - 1991.9.26 19:15-20:08

    This is a medium-quality, 53-minute video document of a live performance at La Ma Ma in Tokyo on September 26, 1991. It was shot on one camera only, which barely ever pans, capturing Fushitsusha as they shatter through seven or eight different sections of guitar neck-strangling, feedback-improv of the most feelings-foiling kind. The band only rocks out once with a way-detuned version of track two from disc one of the Live II set. The remainder of the material sounds pretty much fresh to my ears, and it comes sheathed in an all-black cover just like the CDs.

    Label: PSF Catalog Number: PSFV-1 Format: VHS, DVD Packaging: VHS case, DVD case Tracks: 1 Total Time: 53:00 Country: Japan Released: 1992 on VHS, 2006 on DVD Related Artists: Keiji Haino More: Forced Exposure, Official, Poison Pie, Wikipedia

    Fushitsusha – (Live II)

    January 25th, 2008

    Fushitsusha - (Live II)

    Rock music has been forced upon me for nearly 40 years now. Over that time, a lot of favorite bands and albums have, of course, come and gone. All of that changed when I heard this set by Fushitsusha in the early ’90s. It’s easily the most interesting, challenging, non-commercial, creative, soulful, heavy and outward-bound music made on an electric guitar that I’ve ever heard, and I seriously doubt that anything will be able to top it anytime soon. It just makes all other guitar music sound silly. Like the previous volume, Live II also comes housed in an all-black, mini-LP-style gatefold jacket, except the inner sleeves this time are non-CD-scratching white cloth and the booklet is just super-deluxe: small, striking, abstract line drawings and Japanese lyrics on ultra-textured black paper. Very nice, indeed. Keiji Haino must’ve got ahold of a few dozen more effects pedals, an overdrive unit, and a couple of additional full stacks since the first Live set was recorded, as Live II is far more abstract, wide-sounding and black-hole-bound than it’s predecessor. Plus, like 99% of Haino’s music, it’s all recorded live with no overdubs.

    Opening up disc one, Godzilla stomps your city into a dusty pancake with supremely heavy, dissonant and overblown riff-damage that’s completely drowned in unrecognizably dense fuzz / psych arcs, exploding with electric sound-splinters that just obliterate you. Some of Keiji Haino’s most harsh vocal attack weaving through the din isn’t much more inviting. This mood is continued on the next song, although with somewhat less of the almost comical heaviness. Track three is marked by occasional sour note tinning with lost vocal murmurs and the most other-solar-system-sun-staring lead blisters imaginable. Avoiding cliché at every turn, Keiji Haino’s heavily-effected, other-planetly, aluminum guitar abstractions shrinkwrap your head, cram it into an oil drum and coax your mind out with the most beguiling, smelted space-winds.

    Another very spare, four-note bass waft opens the next song, accompanied by quiet guitar plucks and beautifully piercing vocals. Eventually, gentle guitar arches and strums rise into a melodic, sky-reaching apex to a slow fade out. On track five, another simple bass and drum wobble is interjected by overloaded guitar blow and other moments of floating vocal quietudes, ending with a maelstrom of noise funnels. The disc is closed out with a very strange web of shrill, organ-like clouds floated along with more lost-planet vocalizations. Six tracks, 73 minutes of way unearthly soundwaves.

    Disc two continues with seven tracks and 74 minutes of the Fushitsusha onslaught. Opening with a very quiet, simple, melancholy bass line with drum ’n’ cymbal washes, Keiji Haino gently splashes the most ethereal guitar chimes, eventually coalescing into rising volume with soft vocal wet naps. After opening with a twisted feedback festival, track two comes to a sudden stop then veers into an abstract area of the most intense guitar flail of all time: severe, reverbed ice curtains rain down all around and cut into your head like frozen glass slivers from all other dimensions—just unbelievable. Next, a very unusual (for Fushitsusha), fast-paced bass and drum section rapidly supports plenty of garbled grate-guitar that could easily propel your next aerobics class. The following two songs feature Keiji Haino solo on guitar and voice—track four sporting plenty of sour guitar aches plus vocal chants and five heading in a much more placid vein of singing with chiming electric notes.

    Following that is a very thick, muted, bass-heavy noise tornado with super sore-throat vocals completely blowing your house to bits just before rocking out near the end—barely prepping you for what comes next. The set is nonchalantly capped off by the most mammoth garage-psych track slopped with the highest arcing lines of splintered guitar mangle ever to disturb an air molecule. As the bass and drums rock simply on, 1:48 is where the exhilaration really begins: just the most full-on, forehead eye-projected wail-breakload that completely destroys and constructs merely the best rock song of all time. When the guitar maelstrom rejoins the rhythm section at 12:58, it drives the biggest electric orgasm ever straight home—just before a few way dissonant, dying dinosaur breaths shudder everything to a halt.

    Label: PSF Catalog Number: PSFD-15/16 Format: 2-CD Packaging: Mini-LP gatefold Tracks: Disc 1: 6, Disc 2: 6 Total Time: Disc 1: 72:50, Disc 2: 62:41 Country: Japan Released: 1991 Related Artists: Keiji Haino More: Forced Exposure, Official, Poison Pie, Wikipedia

    Fushitsusha – (Live)

    January 25th, 2008

    Fushitshusha - Live

    Fushitsusha is Keiji Haino’s main line—his most prominent, best gift-giving, longest-running group and the vehicle voted most likely to simultaneously massage and damage the known universe of eardrums and cortexes. This album first appeared as a 2-LP on vinyl only back in 1989 and entered the Official Hall of Whispers quickly, only to top the list–along with the Taj Mahal Travellers–of the most desirable and unobtainable Japanese music artifacts in the years to come. Finally reissued as a 2-CD set at the end of 1997, a slightly wider swath of humanity has been offered the chance to shower in these dirty grooves. Stay nude. True to form, the reissue is housed in a mini-LP-style gatefold jacket approximating the original: completely black with just the band name written small in Japanese down the middle of the front cover and a small cross on the right panel inside. The paper inner sleeves and discs themselves are likewise soaked in “the combination of all colors.”

    The first disc contains four tracks and 45 minutes of dirty, swamp sound—kicking off with some scuzzy blues rock held together by a slowly chugging rhythm guitar courtesy of Maki Miura, low-end bass power by Yasushi Ozawa, not to mention Jun Kosugi’s freely splacked drums on top of which Keiji Haino splays the most playful yet arcing guitar lines of loose abandon. The rocking out continues on track two, highlighted with some more sprightly guitar work—making way for the centerpiece: an incredibly pleasant and sparse realm of dream-levitation. It’s all supported by a very simple four-note bass line and an echoing side-guitar strum which Keiji Haino eases into with the most restrained lead guitar notes and soft, gentle singing imaginable. Eventually, Haino foreheads his guitar completely out of the realm of all known human considerations via unusual progressions, slop-o stalls and keening wails. He also busts out a rare harmonica bit on the closing song.

    The four tracks on disc two take up a bit more time for a grand total of 52 minutes. Starting quietly with the most standard balladeering ever offered by this band, the first song really picks up when Keiji Haino sends his piercing, outer space guitar semi-circles soaring into the nether regions. On track two, dissonant rhythm-section jolts punctuated by plenty of feedback whine and piercing lead guitar lines plus a desperate vocal display later splay into an intense noise hurricane that could easily level South Carolina. Third up, Keiji Haino melds a very quiet, mild strum into a murky field of loud, obtuse, sour note-picking and back again. The set is completed with a stretching, 26-minute vista that switches back and forth several times between droning strums, faster stuttered rhythm sections with nice singing, not to mention plenty of very spare, beautiful balladry and lightness. The music on this release is easily the most pleasant and accessible ever made by Fushitsusha or Keiji Haino, making it by far the best place to start for the beginner.

    Label: PSF Catalog Number: PSFD-3/4 Format: 2-CD Packaging: Mini-LP gatefold Tracks: Disc 1: 4, Disc 2: 4 Total Time: Disc 1: 44:58, Disc 2: 51:59 Country: Japan Released: 1989 on 2-LP, 1997 on 2-CD Related Artists: Keiji Haino More: Forced Exposure, Official, Poison Pie, Wikipedia

    Zircon and the Burning Brains – Cortex!

    January 23rd, 2008

    Zircon and The Burning Brains - Cortex!

    Zircon and the Burning Brains was an ’80s improvisational industrial trio featuring British brothers Alan Freeman and Steve Freeman, authors of a book on krautrock called The Crack in the Cosmic Egg and the publishers of Audion, an experimental music magazine; and Nigel Harris. Cortex! is a 1999 CD reissue of a cassette from 1984 with two bonus tracks. It rudely belches out well over an hour of coarse, abstract soundscapes filled with fizzy-fuzzy electronics and guitars, spoken word echo, random synth stabs and distant background moaning–all supported by a heavy vintage analog synth vibe. In a nutshell, this CD sounds fantastic, and I heartily recommend it for fans of Throbbing Gristle and any other vintage industrial music from the 1970s and early ’80s.

    Label: Ultimate Transmissions Catalog Number: UTCD 001 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 4 Total Time: 69:44 Country: England Released: 1999 Related Artists: Alto Stratus, Endgame, The Newt Hounds

    The Newt Hounds – The Poignant Device

    January 23rd, 2008

    The Newt Hounds - The Poignant Device

    The Newt Hounds is a fictional Nurse With Wound-inspired group comprised of a core duo of British brothers Alan Freeman and Steve Freeman, authors of a book on krautrock called The Crack in the Cosmic Egg and the publishers of Audion, an experimental music magazine. The Poignant Device offers up a full 70-minute program of slightly organized chaos. The CD’s 22 tracks, released in the year 2001, range from grainy, murky ambience to silly, amateurish outbursts to dense sound collages full of delay and echo. Plenty of feedback electronics, sampled voices and even a bit of live drumming can be found peppered throughout.

    Sometimes, there’s not a whole lot of subtlety at work, though, what with slightly embarrassing sounds like flushing toilets, cartoon-like sound effects and a breaking glass sample on repeat making themselves heard loud and clear. At other times, Alan and Steve’s efforts occasionally amaze when, for example, some understated and heavily reverberated violin makes a brief appearance, or when the proceedings coalesce into a thick, pleasant and impressive aural blast furnace. But, in the end, who cares what I think? As the press release claims, this music is “dada in almost every respect imaginable,” which leads me to believe that Alan and Steve have, in essence, already told me to fuck off. Right on! Fans of Nurse With Wound, who this CD is dedicated to, may want to give it a try.

    Label: Ultimate Transmissions Catalog Number: UTCD 008 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 22 Total Time: 70:00 Country: England Released: 2000 Related Artists: Alto Stratus, Endgame, Zircon and the Burning Brains

    Endgame – Tundra

    January 23rd, 2008

    Endgame - Tundra

    Out of all the myriad musical outfits operated by British brothers Alan Freeman and Steve Freeman–authors of The Crack in the Cosmic Egg krautrock book and Audion experimental music mag–Endgame is by far my favorite. For nearly two-and-a-half hours, the appropriately titled Tundra floats a seemingly endless barren soundscape across the listener’s frontal lobe. It’s a very cinematic affair, offering the mind’s eye a heady stew of distant ambience and heavily reverberated atmosphere. Droning synths, fuzz guitar, barking dogs, disembodied voices, orchestral smears and plenty of other highly processed, layered and looped sound effects ebb and flow and occasionally coalesce into a swelling mass of extremely pleasant dream state electricity.

    Compared to Alan and Steve’s irreverent and dada-inspired band, The Newt Hounds, Endgame is much more, dare I say it, “mature.” But that doesn’t mean you have to be a washed-up elderly porn star confined to a wheelchair to appreciate it. In fact, you can be young and fully clothed–or proceeding along quite nicely at any stage of life–and still enjoy Tundra’s many-splendored elegance. The front cover artwork and design are equally pleasing, as well. Highly recommended.

    Label: Ultimate Transmissions Catalog Number: UTCD 009/10 Format: 2-CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: Disc 1: 2, Disc 2: 3 Total Time: Disc 1: 75:00, Disc 2: 76:32 Country: England Released: 2001 Related Artists: Alto Stratus, The Newt Hounds, Zircon and the Burning Brains

    Alto Stratus – Psychosis

    January 21st, 2008

    Alto Stratus - Psychosis

    Forming in the early 1980s and still active in 2008, Alto Stratus is one of the many musical outlets of British brothers Alan Freeman and Steve Freeman, authors of a book on krautrock called The Crack in the Cosmic Egg and the publishers of Audion, an experimental music magazine. Released in 2002 on the band’s 20th anniversary and clocking in at 76:22, Psychosis seems to favor the number two and stretches the limits of CD length. (Although the format’s ultimate boundary is 80 minutes, a program duration of 74 minutes or less is normally advised by pressing plants.)

    These eight lengthy minimal-yet-maximal tracks are chock-full of deep, droning ambience by way of multiple layers of reverb-drenched cello, looped sound fragments, murky fuzz guitar, eardrum-piercing cymbal scrapes and about a baker’s dozen of other aural scalpels that will not hesitate to do a nasty number on your knoggin. And it comes all wrapped-up in a nice, three-panel, four-color booklet with a unique twist: each track is visually represented by its very own psychedelic artwork! Very nice. Recommended for insomniacs who enjoy smoking dope all night. *Alto Stratus also records secretly as The Newt Hounds, but please don’t tell anyone!

    Label: Ultimate Transmissions Catalog Number: UTCD 011 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: 8 Total Time: 76:22 Country: England Released: 2002 Related Artists: Endgame, The Newt Hounds, Zircon and the Burning Brains