Cook Some Dishes is an album by shibuya-kei master, Yukari Fresh. Yukari Fresh's childlike voice and delightfully bubbly pop is what made me fall in love with shibuya-kei. i discovered Yukari Fresh before i ever discovered Pizzicato Five, Flipper's Guitar, Fantastic Plastic Machine, or any of the other more well known acts from the genre. years before that, in fact.
the highlight of this album are the three last tracks, which may as well be one single track.
one of the most impressive things about yukari, i think, is her almost flawless pronunciation of the english language. it's nice to, for once, have some japanese pop that i can actually sing along with, hahahahahahahhahaaaaaahahaha
1. introduction MC
8. is this disco?
10. cook some dishes
Alienation is a 1996 album by YBO², a zeuhl (i think) band, formed in 1984. i'm actually not all that wild about zeuhl (and, i guess by extension, prog -- or perhaps it's the other way around), but this shit is delicious. it's thick, murky, and loud. it reminds me of Les Rallizes Denudes or Fushitsusha, or some of the other japanese psychedelic bands of the 1970s.
i don't really have anything else to compare it to, but i know that if you like the japanese psychedelic movement of the 1970s then you'll most certainly like this.
3. Boys Of Bedlam
4. To Be (帝国の逆襲)
5. Heavy Waters
DARK BALANCE is an EP/single by Ruellia (who i previously mentioned in my post about kc+loid). more drag queens making metal inspired post-punk.
i posted this EP/single only so that you can hear the track "Fate of Claustrophobia". it's easily my favorite track by this wonderful band. the guitars on this song are so incredible. it kills me every time i hear it.
1. Fate Of Claustrophobia
2. DARK BALANCE
This post is to redirect you to Habit Of Sex where you can download Tomo Akikawaba's epic, The Castle. i have to say this may indeed be the best album i've discovered from another blog all year.
i won't say much about it except that if you don't download it then i feel really bad for you. this is the album. also, the dudes over at Habit Of Sex sum it up much better than i could. they've clearly been looking for this album for a while, and they make it clear through their review of this flawless album.
the best part, for me, is the sincerity and utter sadness of the vocals. if he puts across one emotion in his singing then it's desperation. complete, crushing desperation.
さてこそ is チャクラ's (chakra, चक्रं, what have you) masterpiece. i can't tell you much about this band because, like many other albums on this blog, not much info exists for them on the western internet.
essentially, though, these dudes were making music that sounds like a mix between Picky Picnic's later childlike cute pop and SHI-SHONEN's lovely new wave synths. they've become one of my favorite bands.
4. You Need Me
The Age of Dissent is my favorite album by legendary power electronics act, The Grey Wolves. i don't feel like writing anything up about it right now, except that you'll like it if you like early Whitehouse.
2. Empty Threat
3. Destructive State
4. Aura of Violence
5. The Age of Dissent
6. Skin Hunger
7. Low Level Transmission
8. New World Dis-Order
i've already shared goatbed on this blog once before, on their split with SilhouetteNewRomance. the tracks presented there, though, were most likely unfinished. a few even show up on this album. but the songs that were on Stowaway To Paradis are so perfectly mastered here that they almost sound like different songs. the two that stand out the most clearly are "BUDDY BEAT" and "VOGUE MAN". fucking incredible.
this album blows my mind every time i listen to it.
2. YOUNG VANING
4. YOUR GRANDPA IS THE MOST ABNORMAL
5. BUDDY BEAT
6. BY PHERO MONDE
7. VOGUE MAN
8. GOODLUCK DELETE
アザラシイズム is an album by あざらし (azarashi). あざらし are a punk/noise-blues-rock/post-punk band with an obvious Suehiro Maruo inspired image. the band is female fronted (like most bands on this blog; what can i say, i just prefer the female voice), but the vocalist sings in a gruff tone (reminiscent of 水玉消防団, actually). the guitars drift and groan and moan and hiss, and the vocalist wails and screeches and grunts. every once in a while we get a hefty dosage of feedback, and high-pitched whining on the guitar.
overall, an extremely earpearcing experience.
Togawa Jun is apparently back in business, or at least was in the studio recently; she is responsible for a "cover" of カノン (or 蛹化の女) by Michiro Endo from the recent (it came out eleven days ago, i think) tribute album to The Stalin and Michiro Endo, titled ROMANTIST. i use quotation marks around the word cover, because this is actually a cover of a cover. the song that Endo was covering was originally from Togawa's 1984 album 玉姫様. so, in essence, Togawa is simply redoing one of her older songs.
i was almost completely turned off this album after hearing DIR EN GREY's god awful cover of ワルシャワの幻想. i don't hate DIR EN GREY. i do hate this cover. so, i guess what i'm saying is that it's a miracle that i heard this breathtaking cover that Togawa Jun so masterfully performs.
more important than this single song, though, is the possible promise of a new album from the queen of avant-garde pop herself. it's been a good six years since Togawa Legend came out. i think we're all about ready for a new album by now. let's cross our fingers and hope this is a sign of things to come.
FLOPPY's first album DEUS EX MACHINA is kind of a masterpiece. it's like . . . what every bit-pop/picopico album should sound like. it's like every fucking song is flawless, perfect, adorable pop. a collaborative between 新宿ゲバルト's Toda Hiromu (on electronix) and メトロノーム's Kobayashi Sharaku (on vox). legends, the both of them.
uhhh, apparently they were involved in an UCHOTEN cover album, which gives them credibility if you had doubts (why you would have doubts is honestly beyond me, considering the dudes involved in this project).
1. EX MACHINA
another graphic novel post. Witches is a breathtaking graphic novel short-story collection by 五十嵐大介 (igarashi daisuke). each story focuses on, as the title would suggest, witches. the witches come from different parts of the uncivilized world (two from small villages in germany and russia, another from the jungles of south america). these witches are quite unlike the average portrayal of witchcraft in japanese graphic novels (or manga if you're too pedestrian to realize that that word just means "comic"; aka "graphic novel". that's why i am loathe to use it, since it would be like calling books from poland "książka"). they are not delightful magical princesses (i have no problem with this sort of japanese graphic novel/comic book princess, by the way; i've read/watched every volume/season of Cardcaptor Sakura and Bishōjo Senshi Sailormoon) but instead they are traditional practitioners of magick, speaking to animals and digging runes in the sand to cast spells blessed upon them by the spirits of this world. in the story about the witch from the rain forest, the protagonist uses the wrathful spirits of the forest to attempt to take vengeance upon the government who is destroying her forest in the name of furthering humanity's death-grip on nature (i think they want to build a mall or an airbase or something). i won't reveal the ending (as it absolutely crushed me when i read it), but it's not pretty. the art, on the other hand, is most certainly pretty. igarashi's lines are complex, beautiful, and natural looking. there is no overproduction here. indeed, his drawings sometimes seem to perfectly capture the spirits of nature.
his works have been compared before to miyazaki. i think that is perhaps a fair comparison, considering the focus of his stories (feminism, childlike naivety, and defending the natural world against man). it also reminds me of magical realism (particularly marquez's "A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings").
ローザ・ルクセンブルグ (or, errr, "Rosa Luxemburg" . . . as in the the marxist theorist?) were an incredibly upbeat rock band who's style and sound are completely unlike anything i've ever heard before. they are the most playful, fun pop rock (for lack of a better genre title) band i've ever heard. if i had to compare them to something, i guess it would be to IPPU-DO, or maybe some of the stuff on Nagomu Records. as far as modern bands go, it's quite possible that Sakurai Ao of cali≠gari was inspired by ローザ・ルクセンブルグ.
they premiered with their song "Chinese Boy" (i think i translated that right) which is on this album (second track), so i'm going to assume this is their first album (information is very meager on the western internet; they don't even have a proper discogs). even though my japanese is greatly lacking (i can read it, but will have no idea what it means for the most part), i was still able to discover what might be a news article explaining that the vocalist died from brain trauma in hawaii.
i'm stunned by that album art, by the way.
Dissecting Table is a superb industrial/power electronics act by Ichiro Tsuji. his music is kinda like Contagious Orgasm's evil brother; still the same weird sound sampling, but now with grindcore vocals and a focus on pain and suffering.
my favorite track is the pounding "Dark Side Of Life". the roaring vocals and relentless beat on this track are flooring.
1. From Life To Death
2. Road To Death
3. Desperate Situation
4. Death March
5. Murder Music
6. Dark Side Of Life
8. Cosmic Death
「弑逆の理」 is one of my favorite albums from the "visual kei" scene in early the 1990s in Japan. of course, this really has nothing to do with bullshit like Malice Mizer or AN CAFE; plenty of legit post-punk, goth/death-rock, and hardcore (often a fusion of the those three genres) bands played in the scene. KC+loid is something else entirely. from the beginning of the album to the end it is a spectacular piece of post-punk. it is as melancholic and loathing as any Cinema Strange or Sex Gang Children album.
the standout track, as far as i'm concerned, is the finale: "Genesis of Lasting".
2. 水槽の中の鳥-dying swan-
3. Death Penalty
8. Genesis of Lasting
Singing Circuit is SHI-SHONEN's 1985 album. it's pop in the most sublime form; beautiful, flowing synth, gentle guitars and horns, and catchy beats.
recommended for fans of P-Model or IPPU-DO.
notably, SHI-SHONEN got help on this record from the master himself, Haruomi Hosono.
1. Lovely Singin' Circuit
3. N-S マグネティック
4. Bye-Bye Yuppie Boy
Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson died yesterday, in his sleep, at the age of 55. cosey fanni tutti and chris carter insist that he died peacefully, in their statement about his death. he died in bangkok, hopefully in the arms of a lovely thai boy. for now, he joins jhonn in the grave.
i share with you now what i believe to be his seminal work with COIL: Summer Solstice: Bee Stings. though Ape Of Naples is usually considered their seminal work, i have always had a preference for Bee Stings due to it's far more melancholic tone. the distorted guitars and droning synths on this album, accompanied by jhonn's low, mourning voice, is absolutely crushing. the best track, by far, is the opening, "Bee Stings". it almost sounds like a Legendary Pink Dots track.
1. Bee Stings
3. Summer Substructures
4. A Warning From the Sun (For Fritz)
Costom Cock Confused Death is an album by Masaya Nakahara (of Violent Onsen Geisha fame). essentially, it's very much like a VOG album, but more focused, and less comical (though the sense of humor is still there). this album is full of tight, short little tracks, violent blasts of slurred static and hip-hop beats, layered over sample after sample after sample, and with a bit of psychedelic rock guitar warbling here and there.
download this or you'll hate yourself forever.
1. The Exciting Introduction
2. Underhair World
4. Doomed Love Parade
5. Organic Orgasm
9. The Special
13. Spanish 808
15. I Like Percussion
17. Kill The Animals Project
18. The Perfect Bongo Sessions
19. A Tragedy Of The Espresso Machine
中森明菜's 1989 album CRUISE is an absolute masterpiece. that's all that can be said. every song is perfect. her deep, thick voice flows over the ballads on this album like the sweetest milk. truly a delight.
6. Close Your Eyes
7. Standing In Blue
あなたの狂気の春が咲く is an album by 井内賢吾 (or, Kingo Iuchi) from 1997. essentially, nothing seems to be known in the western world about Iuchi (and, when you put his name written in kanji into google, not many useful japanese sites come up, either). as another blogger put it, he seems to be a complete mystery. there aren't even any good pictures of him (the only ones that can be found are horribly blurred, in red, or in black and white [there are a few faces on his album Inugami to Kachiku, but i'm not sure if they're actually Iuchi or not]).
the music that Iuchi makes is a mix of noise and the blackest of folk. his voice pants, shouts, hisses, screams, and cracks up, and his guitar crackles and twangs, sounding more like a biwa than a guitar. in fact, from time to time, he does indeed sound like a biwa player from the early Edo period, chanting a story of ghosts and oni spirits in a buddhist temple.
worth noting is the spectacular album art by the legendary Suehiro Maruo.
Spill Drop is an album by Contagious Orgasm (aka Hiroshi Hashimoto). a good album. too tired to write a description right now.
just download it.
1. Melancholy Spiders
2. Cill Drop
3. Aqua Soma (Edit)
4. Realization Set In
5. The Room Of The Whisper
6. The Museum's Marble Floor
7. Hypnotic Skills
8. Harvest Song
9. This Point, Just On Automatic
10. Now, YOU Are In Deep Trouble
11. Aqua Soma
The Sodality was a very mysterious italian power electronics act. this is the only album that he released. supposedly there is some back catalog material, but it seems highly unlikely that shall ever be released. for now, though, most PE and noise fans are fine with only having Beyond Unknown Pleasures.
this album is often considered to be the best power electronics album of all time. one of the single most vicious and uncomfortable PE albums to ever be released. everything about it is simply flawless. the lyrics, the vocals, the electronics, everything. but mostly the vocals. the electronics stays low (mostly rumbling and hissing, sometimes there's a high-pitched whine or two) so that the vocals can really take control.
this album really gives you a good idea why the name of the genre is "power" electronics; the lyrics are the ultimate portrayal of victimization and absolute control.
you have to download this if you like PE or noise.
1. They Never Learn
2. I Can't Stand A Bitchy Chick
3. Catch The Whore
4. I Want Your Blood
5. The Kiddie Eater
6. Fuck Mastery
7. The Younger - The Better
8. Beyond Unknown Pleasure
9. Orgies Of Crime
10. And So You Shall
20th Jun Togawa is another more modern piece by the legendary 戸川純. a cover album where she pays tribute to Brigitte Fontaine, Vanessa Paradis, Patti Smith, and other western classics. her versions of the songs covered here are (except for "Comme A la Radio") have very little in common with the originals. Togawa's voice sounds as childlike as ever, particularly on the delightful cover of "Joe le Taxi".
one or two of the songs on this album (for example, the tired "All Tomorrow's Parties") are worthless in their original form, but somehow togawa manages to fill them with the spark of life.
edit: hahaha, some dumb cunt over at Stylus Magazine apparently gave this album an "F". i can't stop laughing, oh my god my stomach hurts ahahahaha repulsive fucking hipster cunts oh man, somebody put me out of my misery ahahahaha.
on the other hand, the producer Jim O'Rourke (who has worked with the likes of KK Null, Merzbow, Nurse With Wound, and has produced albums for Sonic Youth and Faust) said it was one of the best albums of the year that it came out.
STOWAWAY TO PARADIS is a split between goatbed and SilhouetteNewRomance. goatbed has quite a few other albums, but the five songs that SilhoutteNewRomance offer up here (covers and tributes to well known western songs) seem to be the only songs in their entire discography. a real shame, because they're almost as good as the songs that goatbed offer on this split.
both bands are snyth-pop of the highest order; danceable beats, androgynous voices, and mutated guitar riffs fill up this split. of course, i can't imagine you'd hear these tracks on the dancefloor of a club in Shibuya; they're too strange to ever appeal to a mass audience.
for fans of oldschool synth-pop like 細野晴臣 (Hosono Haruomi), Yellow Magic Orchestra, and 土屋昌巳 (Masami Tsuchiya), the sound that goatbed produces will be very recognizable. it is impossible that goatbed wasn't influenced by at least the first two (and their image looks like 土屋昌巳's). their track "Vogue Man" even reminds me of 細野晴臣 masterpiece, "Sportsmen".
the two highlight tracks on this split are goatbed's "Vogue Man" and SNR's "Never Mind The Boutique (Who's that no Futurist)".
here's a spectacular performance of the goatbed track in question. if that doesn't convince you then i don't know what will.
水玉消防団 (mizutama shobodan) were a post-punk act that released their first album, 乙女の祈りはダッダッダッ!, in 1981. this is the album i show people when they ask me about post-punk. considering how much post-punk gets posted here, that should say something.
i don't know much about this band. essentially, i only have knowledge of the vocalist, Tenko. she seems to be fairly well known in the avant-garde arena. she even had a relationship with Fred Frith. her rough, sarcastic voice is perhaps the best part about this band.
this is the band that (in a previous post) i compared to early sioxsie sioux and the banshees. essentially, this is what siouxsie sioux wanted to sound like with her early punk sound, but she never quite had the aggression or chaotic sound that 水玉消防団 had.
if you only download one album from this blog, then you should make it this one.
JOJO広重 is most well known for being the leader of legendary noise unit Hijokaidan (who i have argued, in the past, were most likely the founder of modern noise). he also has a fantastic (and still active) solo career. this album is from his solo career.
to me, it sounds like a much more structured Viva Angel, which is already Hijokaidan's most accessible release to date. it's different in that it has cleaner production. it does retain the psychedelic sound, à la Les Rallizes Denudes or Fushitsusha, but the guitars are not layered in mountains of feedback and static.
a really fantastic album that my friend Avarance- was kind enough to share with me. i hadn't been able to find it until he gave it to me, so i am indebted to him. he also shared some Sai Yoshiko, which i shall upload at a later date.
ＺＥＬＤＡ was an all girl rock band. curiously, they got into the Guinness Book of Records for being the longest lasting all girl rock band to ever exist. a very admirable achievement, i guess.
this is a truly beautiful album. it reminds me of After Dinner (the operatic wailing on 私の楽団（オーケストラ） is very reminiscent of the live performance of "After Dinner"), or perhaps Togawa Jun, whose wailing opera voice is what made her famous (though, the music doesn't sound much like Togawa's music).
really beautiful, jazzy music that has become one of my favorites ever since i discovered them over at Female Trouble.
1. うめたて (this track appears to be missing.)
(ps. if you want a hint about who my new account is on last.fm, just look for a user who has AMPPEZ and Zelda as top artists. but don't say "OH HEY, IS THIS YOUNGHATE'S NEW ACCOUNT? just add me. be cool.)
I'D LIKE to use this post to quickly suggest you visit a new favorite blog that a friend of mine is running. it's called HONEYMOON PERIOD. spectacular japtunes. they/he reblogged Kuru Kuru World from this blog (even gave credit!), so i thought i'd like to spread the love!
VISIT THEM OR DIE.
VISIT THEM OR DIE.
WELCOME TO BIZZARO SOFTLY SLEEPING ROSE! today is a history-making event for this blog, as i'm posting something that is genuinely upbeat with no upsetting or melancholic undercurrents of pain and miseryyyyy.
i would like to introduce you to AMPPEZ, a "Cool and Emotional Balladic Girl Rock from Shizuoka Japan" (as their awkwardly translated last.fm bio describes them). i'm not sure of the genre, as i don't usually pay attention to music like this. i think it might be shoegaze or something like that, maybe pop-punk. ANYWAYS, what you have here is some of the most uplifting, adorable, and mind-numbingly touching music you'll ever hear. the vocalist's scratchy voice is, in almost every song, accompanied by heartfelt shouts from her band mates, which is one of the most satisfying things about this to me.
grrlz r00l up teh punx ♥ ♥ ♥
G-SCHMITT's album Struggle To Survive is a goth-rock masterpiece. one of the best albums in the genre. it is essentially what Siouxsie Sioux always wanted to be but could never actually become (later on, i shall post an album by a band that Siouxsie Sioux wanted to sound like in the formative years of The Banshees).
the highlight track is undoubtedly "Grand Circle", a slow, churning song that finally ends with a fantastic guitar solo (goth-rock is one of the few genres to make guitar solos sound good, if you ask me).
2. catholic（new vocal）
4. 千夜一夜（the 1001 nights）
7. mescaline dream
8. 赤い華（belladonna） re-mix
9. lotus garden
10. someday somewhere
11. grand circle
12. public game
13. farewell （live）
as requested, i have uploaded 土屋昌巳's 1997 album Mod’Fish. i won't go into too much detail about this album, except that it seems that by '97 Masami was willing to experiment a bit more with his particular brand of pop.
Dross is a fantastic album from one of my favorite musicians, S·CORE (Yutaka Tanaka).
S·CORE's work is low frequency ambient music of the strangest variety. it bubbles and hisses, moans and curses, and shuffles down dark hallways in abandoned houses. it is the very embodiment of the word "uneasy".
reminds me of Les Joyaux de la Princesse, at least to some extent.
5. Low Water Mark
8. Water Colour
10. A Blatant Lie
13. Vanity Case
土屋昌巳 (Tsuchiya Masami) was a pop musician from the 1980s/90s. he is perhaps best known as the leader of the band synth-pop act 一風堂 (IPPU-DO). Tsuchiya's most obvious influence is David Bowie. in fact, his androgynous appearance has often been compared to Bowie.
this album, Rice Music, was his first solo album. his solo work was still very experimental at the time. since the Bowie comparison has already been made, i may as well compare Rice Music to Bowie's Heroes, Low, or Lodger; his albums with Brian Eno. this makes sense, considering the album is filled with strange pop songs, but also ambient instrumentals (like the spectacular "Silent Object").
静香 was a psychedelic/acid folk band from the 1980s and 1990s. this, 天界のペルソナ, was their first album. this is more depressing music from japan. shizuka miura's (who the band is named after)vocals are a gentle, sympathetic voice stretched out over the slow guitars and violins.
the two stand out tracks are the last two. the violins on "水晶の翼" are so poignant and full of distress. truly beautiful. this track is the perfect build up for the even slower "6グラムの星". this is the final crushing blow of regret on such a lovely, emotional album. the ten minute track really picks up around the eight minute mark when the distorted electric guitar kicks in.
truly one of my all time favorite albums. a must for any fan of sad japanese psychedelic music.
(of some interest; shizuka miura commited suicide february 2nd of this year.)
Cingus Ah Um is an album by up and coming glitch act Mharles Cingus. Cingus' sound could quite easily be related to Ryoji Ikeda or NON's early minimalist noise work. this album is short and sweet; a little shrill mechanical squeals here, a little white noise there, and a nice sense of minimalism brings it all together into fine computer based noise. the last track in particular sounds like the breakdown of a Windows 98 (or so i'd like to imagine) after it has found a terabyte of child porn on within its own hard drive.
Kenka is a tragic album by Jack or Jive. Jack or Jive have been making depressing music much like this since the 1980s, with their premier album Expatriation. the music is primarily piano and sample driven, while the vocals are a melancholic expression of mourning in every single song.
the music isn't really depressing. it's sad, that's for sure, but you don't go away from the music feeling crushed. instead, it seems to be hopeful, and in that hope for something better the music is unspeakably beautiful.
Uchoten (有頂天) were a very strange new wave band from 1980s japan. it's very difficult to describe Uchoten, because there's not much else that sounds like them. perhaps the best comparison could be the pop albums that Picky Picnic did, or the albums that Togawa Jun did with her band Yapoos. the vocalist's voice is very angelic and often childlike (much like the vocalist from picky picnic), very gentle on the ears.
another thing picky and Uchoten have in common; they were both signed to the same label, NAGAMU RECORDS.
edit: i'll post another album by Uchoten later tonight. look forward to it!
Picky Picnic are mostly known for their Residents-esque style on their albums Picnic Land and Ha Ha! Tarachine, albums that are completely insane. the style they are not known for is the avant-pop sound that they present on their last two albums.
you noticed that i used the word "pop" to describe these later albums, so it goes without saying that they were something of a great departure from their original style. Kuru Kuru World is perhaps the more ordered and fun of the two later albums.
on this album, the vocals are adorable, not schizophrenic and squeaky. that is perhaps the most obvious difference. the vocals sound like a twelve year-old boy. how they managed to achieve this is beyond me. i entertained the idea that they actually had a boy singing when i first heard this, but it is this way on all of their avant-popish records. this is most certainly the squeaky guy from Ha Ha! Tarachine.
there is nothing dark about this record. it is cute, and catchy as fuck. it's surreal that these guys were making such batshitfuckingcrazy music before. but, to be honest, i enjoy this at least as much as their older music.
6. Love on the beach
9. It's a hysterical place
13. Go Go Twins
Imperium is the seminal work of David Tibet.
some history behind the album before we go on. allegedly, Tibet wrote this album upon what he believed would be his deathbed. according to various sources (that, at one point, were fairly easy to come by), Tibet was suffering both physically and mentally before this album was recorded. he had convulsions, high fevers, and i've even heard that he suffered from hallucinations during this time of illness. it is no surprise that this is the album he would write when death was so close by (in the same way that Rozz Williams' PIG was a perfect suicide note).
Imperium is a lament on the constant looming shadow of death that follows us all from birth to the grave. Current 93 have always been known for making miserable music, but after C93 began to make neofolk the misery was at least tinged with a drop of hope here and there. here is where Imperium differs greatly. there is not a shred of hope to be found on this album.
the album begins with the Imperium tracks (I, II, III, and IV). "Imperium I" begins with Tibet whispering the beginning of Psalm 23. the backing music is made up of contorted moaning, accompanied by a beautiful flute and guitar combo, giving the track an ancient feel, as if it had been plucked from ancient Jerusalem.
there is a seamless transition from "Imperium I" to "Imperium II" (the distorted moaning becomes more feminine [mind you, these aren't sexual moans, but religious]), and Tibet whispers: "how can there be pleasure, how can there be joy" in a flat voice, before singing, "as the whole world is burning". the sudden change from dry, barren, religious whispering to beautiful mourning is quite spectacular. however, the lamentations of death's grip upon life continues. it is bleak, but it is honest. this time around, Tibet is accompanied by a beautifully strumming harp, as well as what i believe is some sort of wind instrument.
the next two Imperium tracks are less beautiful, but equally as important for the album. "Imperium III" is accompanied by more of the satanic mumbling and grumbling from the previous two tracks, as well as a muffled, strangled orchestral sample. tibet hisses, "ten millions years, ten millions tears, i curse all gold and silver" and then references a previous masterpiece "Fields of Rape". we are cut down in fields of rape.
the final Imperium track is a sarcastic, mocking summary of Christ's martyrdom in Golgotha. it has a childlike sound to it, and he simplifies the crucifixion as if one was telling it to a child. "Judas, he betrayed the Christ, and sold him to the Jews . . . and the Jews, they crucified the Christ, and nailed him to a tree."
the second half (as the original vinyl was split into the title tracks, and then the last four), or "Be Locust Or Alone" does not indeed begin with "Be" on the edition that i share with you here (this edition, i believe, is from 2001), but instead begins with "Time Stands Still". "Time Stands Still" is a spectacular song. perhaps one of the best on the album. an uncredited man is sampled quoting from Peter Weiss' play The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade (or simply "Marat/Sade"). over this, Tibet changes courses lyrically. now he discusses the inescapable condition of crippling old age (which he could relate to in his sickly state). however, he is not mournful about vitality lost so soon. instead, he mocks: "the tender grass is easily broke, yet who shall shake the sturdy oak? you are more fresh and fair than i, yet stubs do live when flowers die!"
finally, the traditional "Be Locust Or Alone" begins.
"Be" is often viewed as being comical or sarcastic by other reviewers due to the inclusion of the sampling of a child's (what i assume is a doll with a string) that obnoxiously repeats "na na na na!" this sample supplies the rhythm for the track. and while this may be humorous, the lyrics are as dark as ever ("this is where my life has lead me, this is where i choose to stay, this is where i fall apart").
up next is "Locust", the (in my opinion) highlight of this album. "Locust" is a rarity among C93 songs in that it has a strong beat. there is a very tribal feel to it. tibet sings almost joyfully at first, singing "la la la". the track slowly builds sonically (and the theme changes from an a passionate nostalgia for the pleasures of youth [so i assume] to a delirious and literal suicide plot).
the next track, "Or", does much the same thing; a slow build up an explosive finale. at first Tibet rants prophetically above a sample of a german man singing (about the might of the German race, judging from the sound of it). finally, when the song is halfway done and as the prophetic rant has turned for the worst, a post-punk guitar breaks in, and Tibet finally begins to shout: "TAKE ME TO MY DEAD CHRIST, CARY ME FROM SHORE TO SHORE!" the ending is lead by a militaristic drum beat, and it is chaotic, violent, and beautiful.
the final track, "Alone" is another favorite of mine from this album. another post-punk track, Tibet is most gloomy on this track. this most beautiful lyric on this entire album is spoken on this track: "it would have been better not to be the mother. it is sorrowful when a son goes away, let alone when he dies. i watched quietly as the grave was being dug, knowing that he won't come back, and i shall not be here for much longer." the bass of the guitar really picks up at this point, and Tibet finally seems to give all to death. at the end of the track, as Tibet is speaking of images of hell, his voice begins to echo, as if he is finally fading away.
a strange thing about this album is that no credits were included on any edition (i have a physical copy of the 1992 edition, and it only gives credit to Tibet). this leads me to believe that Tibet himself played the instruments (which is not a common practice for him).
1. Imperium I (6:07)
2. Imperium II (5:46)
3. Imperium III (7:01)
4. Imperium IV (3:15)
5. Time Stands Still (2:57)
6. Be (0:53)
7. Locust (9:47)
8. Or (9:21)
9. Alone (7:35)
Yukko Syndrome is a split between two newly founded noise acts (Candy Messiah and Crown of Flowers). the split is dedicated to the idol-pop musician, Yukiko Okada, who committed suicide when she was eighteen (after gaining quite a bit of popularity). she was found in the closet of her apartment in tokyo, crying, with her wrists slashed. a little later she tossed herself from the roof of the Sun Music Agency building. this death inspired many copycat suicides, which were soon dubbed "Yukko Syndrome" suicides.
this split tries to capture the pain she was going through at the time of her death (according to the two artists involved).
a must for any fan of harsh noise and japanese idol-pop.
1. 1# Fan Forever - Candy Messiah
2. Spring Accident: Fall From Seven Stories - Crown of Flowers
A Beautiful Princess
十七歳の地図 is the first album by legendary drug-overdose pop star Ozaki Yutaka (尾崎豊). he was a highly popular rebel, defying his label (Sony Records) and doing drugs like any American pop act. he was so popular, in fact, that when his body was found half naked in an alleyway in tokyo, over 100k fans signed a petition to have his case re-opened; fans believed it had been a murder, and not a simple overdose.
十七歳の地図 was his first album. it is, to me, one of his best.
3. I LOVE YOU 試聴する
4. ハイスクールRock’n’ Roll
8. OH MY LITTLE GIRL
好き好き大好き is another album by Togawa Jun. this is one of her earliest works, and is much more adorable and childlike than the previous album i posted. this one is by far my favorite. the title track is perhaps the most obvious choice for "best song", however the one that always delights me is the breathtaking finale.
this album is clearly inspired by the other idols of the 1970s/80s, and it is (as previously mentioned) slightly mocking them. however, it isn't parody, it is simply a image of the pop idol through the eyes of Togawa Jun; crazed, sugary sweet, and absolutely sincere in its loveliness.
3. エンジェル ベイビー
Love, Death, and The Lady is a spectacularly beautiful album by Shirley & Dolly Collins. if you come to this blog then you more than likely already no who Current 93 are (i'll post some by them later). essentially, the younger of the two Collins sisters (Shirley) was a huge influence on David Tibet (the vocalist and creative force behind Current 93), so much so that he had her sing the final (and most powerful track) on his album Black Ships Ate The Sky. Shirley doesn't sing anymore because she insists that her voice is no longer pretty (while it is most certainly scratchy, it is by no means "ugly"; to the contrary, her voice is more powerful on that song (the final cover of the classic hymn "Idumea") than on any other song she's ever been apart of.
the song in question, on youtube.
this album was way before all that. it was before Dolly died, and before Shirley began her own solo career. the two girls were a major force (so insists wikipedia and other internet sources) in the british folk revival of the 50s/60s. though there is, to some extent, a "folk revival" going on today it is by no means related to what Shirley and Dolly were doing. this particular blogger has a sincere hatred and loathing of all things "freak folk" or "indie folk." i.e. whispered vocals coming from neckbearded hipsters wearing skinny jeans, keffiyehs, and ironic make-up. the fact that they are being referred to as "folk" makes very little since, considering that they are, for the most part, just pop musicians with acoustic guitars and scratchy voices.
anyways, enough of that. onto Love, Death, and The Lady. this album is full of covers of traditional folk songs, in other words these are songs that men and women of times of yore could have enjoyed (and would have played). Dolly plays piano, Shirley sings and strums on her guitar, and they sound amazing together. my personal favorite track is "Young Girl Cut Down in Her Prime" (a classic piece sung in the british military about the death and funeral procession of a young soldier, bu in this version the sex of the character in the song has been reversed). the low harpsichord repeating throughout the track brings out the darker themes of the lyrics. much of the lyrics on the album are much darker than they would at first appear. they deal with death, the loss of a loved one, and (on the first track) the literal threat of the reaper, where the reaper says to the woman in the song: "my name is death, cannot you see? lords, dukes, and ladies bow down to me, and you are one of those branches three. and you, fair maid, must come with me".
all the same, this is not a depressing album. the music and Shirley's voice is upbeat enough to bring joy, and not darkness, to the listener's ears.
1. Death And The Lady
3. The Oxford Girl
4. Are You Going To Leave Me?
5. The Outlandish Knight
6. Go From My Window
7. Young Girl Cut Down In Her Prime
9. Salisbury Plain
10. Fair Maid of Islington
11. Six Dukes
12. Polly on the Shore
13. Plains of Waterloo
today i am presenting you with my all time favorite artist, Takato Yamamoto. Yamamoto essentially paints luscious "yaoi boys" (effete femme boytoys), but with the taste and sensibilities of Suehiro Maruo. indeed, i would almost call him the gay Maruo if it wasn't for the fact that Yamamoto plumps much deeper into darkness than Maruo.
Yamamoto's boys are wrapped in layer after layer of decay, decadence, and misery. they stare out of their dark tombs seductively like sickly feral cats, or hungry serpents. their beautiful faces twist in pain/pleasure.
(may have already guessed, but the header for this blog is a piece by Yamamoto).
today, i present you one of his mangas, Yami no Hou E. not much plot (pretty much nonexistent, actually), but the illustrations are absolutely superb.
not much is known about this band. basically, they were two guys in japan during the 1980s who made insane, childlike music. they only released one official album (Ha! Ha! Tarachine, which can be found via mutant-sounds.blogspot). this is mostly a bootleg (so i've heard), and can indeed be found over the internet. unfortunately, the entire album is always split into two tracks (side a, side b). the version that i present here has been corrected.
Picky Picnic is often wrongfully compared to The Residents. there is certainly a resemblance, as they are both insane pseudo-pop. however, The Residents have never seemed "childlike." Picky, on the other hand, is absolutely childlike. when listening to any of their music i imagine hand-puppets, super glue, googly-eyes, and crayons, all mixed together with a heavy helping of speed + LSD. it's like a six year-old having the worst trip ever.
it's like if My Neighbors the Yamadas had a subplot about cannibalism.
not much to say about this (as i don't know much about Yamaguchi Momoe's [山口百恵] life or career, except that it was successful), but this is a prime example of good 1970s/80s idol pop from japan. very melancholic and jazz-influenced. i definitely suggest you check this one out.
1. MADE IN U.F.O.
2. BLACK CAB (ロンドン・タクシー)
3. LIVERPOOL EXPRESS
4. AIR MAIL
5. CHECK OUT LOVE
6. 愛の TWILIGHT TIME
7. PORTBELLO の銀時計
10. IMITATION GOLD
Pure was a two issue magazine released by Peter Sotos, notorious hedonist/libertine and former member of power electronics founding band Whitehouse (whose albums i promised, but will most likely not be able to provide directly from this blog [i do have them, however, so ask, and you will receive]). this magazine that he published himself (because no one else would) is essentially the modern-day version of 120 Days of Sodom; nothing is taboo, nothing is frowned upon (except christian morals). Sotos praises pedophiles, rapists, and serial killers, writing long articles describing their antics, worshiping death.
suffice it to say the weak of heart should avert their gaze. i will be honest; this shocked me and frustrated me upon first read. it is . . . sickening.
[kindly provided by my friend La Grippe over at Terror Noise Audio]
Atrax Morgue was always about death (particularly suicide). but, unlike most bands with suicide/death themes, Marco Corbelli actually did the deed three years ago.
he hung himself.
this is a very dark album. the lyrics aren't all that complicated; for the most part, Marco just repeats the title of the song over and over again, slowly stretching out the syllables until he turns them into long, high pitched whines and moans.
overall it's an absolutely emotional album. a definite favorite.
Hijokaidan could possibly be credited as being the founders of the noise genre as we know it today (though Whitehouse did it first, as well as NON, they didn't do it as loud as Hijokaidan did it). the band began playing music at "the Drugstore" (a live venue) in 1979. the band was influenced by psychedelic bands as opposed to industrial bands. this difference is very distinct, although the latter made noise the harshest genre around.
Viva Angel was one of Hijokaidan's earliest albums. while the album is still very loud and very spastic, it has a much more accessible sound than, say, Zouroku No Kibyou (which is undeniably their best album). all the same, it is a very loud experience that will still damage your ears.
possibly the best part about this album is Junko's loud, squealing voice. the woman honestly is the most powerful noise vocalist around (putting Yamazaki Maso to shame).