Disc 1: Fire of Ice / The Night Collectors / Night of the Assassins / Strong Out Deeper Than The Night
Disc 2: Blues / Intermission / The Last One
This 2 disc set was recorded November 1, 1978 at Bell Commons, Aoyama, Tokyo featuring a three piece line up of the group and shows a more laid back but also exploratory side of the group that is an early precursor to their 80's sound.
The discs have an extremely high fidelity, with only occasional tape pops every so often - great ambiance for a long gig - no tape flip hijinks . Apparently, this set isn't the entire recording of the night, as its missing a 90 minute improvisation at the end of the gig - believe me though, this gig is plenty long for what is presented. AND ON TO THE REVIEW!
Disc 1: Echo-y drums lead us right into Fire of Ice - and what a great drummer they have for this gig - sounding way more professional than normal, never losing time. This version builds up with a solid backbeat and goes through the usual motions, Mizutani doing some perfunctory soloing - although nothing really earth shaking - the mix is pretty balanced which keeps his vocals from being too disruptive in the overall mix. A decent way to kick off the gig.
A rare performance of The Night Collectors follows in a semi-amped up version, Mizutani guiding us down the rabbit hole of electric guitar goodness. MAN THOSE DRUMS SOUND GOOD! Although it threatens to really take off, it never accelerates to the OTHER state of mind. HO HUM.
Night Of The Assassins comes on next in another mid-tempo version, coming on as perfunctory as this jam sometimes gets - really wish Mizutani would get some coffee and wake up. . .
AND HE DOES! Strong Out Deeper Than The Night comes on slow, but Mizutani has found some inspirado and gives this version some strong cranked up guitarslingin' to awaken the fire beasts of feral energy than have been threatening to be unleashed the whole gig up until now, phased out waves soaring in and out and around the rhythm section as his intoned moans vapor trail the reverbed room. A great performance leaving us reaching for the wilds of the next disc to come after 45 min.
Disc 2: And here is where the value of this performance lies, two improvisations in a row followed by a marathon 40+minute The Last One - get strapped in for 80 minutes of assault!
Blues is shockingly a blues-based improv that last over 24 minutes and comes on like the bastard child of Chuck Berry and Dick Dale, with the godfather being Muddy Waters. Sounds GOOD TO ME!
A circular blues bass riff drives the boat, while Mizutani sees fit to vocally improvise in a more Nuggets type manner as he shoots tremolod reverbed and phased surf guitar bolts out from his ever adept fingers - the drummer making his present felt with the whole band stopping on a dime at not one but TWO separate occasions - THIS NEVER HAPPENS WITH RALLIZES - BIZARRE! Like most jams, this revolves around Mizutani's solos, and he is continuing to drink from the well of inspiration - atonal bursts of satisfaction mixed in with some beautiful lines as we choogle on down the sonic highway. TASTY!
Intermission is anything but an intermission, as Mizutani and co. ease into another improv, the phase out guitar and cymbals washing over in cascading sounds, drum blasts and bass stabs trying to carve out some form as Mizutani rides his Crazy Horse into the jungle. Eventually the bassist comes on with a descending cyclical groove and Mizutani sees fit to strap on some wings and get heavenly, pure electricity rising from his amp to the clouds of the echo bliss kingdom - ATTENTION SWEET SPOT, YOU HAVE HAVE BEEN HIT! A more forceful drum groove appears as Mizutani dials up the phased out weirdness as it abruptly transitions into . . .
The Last One and what a journey this one is gonna be. Starting a much less mulch-grinding mode than usual, with the bass even playing a slight variation on the normal riff. Mizutani is messing with all his effects, swirling intensity and feedback fighting for dominance as echos, wah-wahs and eveything else trigger on and off. Eventually, some vocals peek out of the effects, but not for long as the feedbacking volcano continues to threaten to explode at any moment. The bass gets fiesty and starts moving the riff up and down the neck with playful improvising as the wah-wah screeches its hissing plague of atonal fuzz. As it snakes along, we get treated to some of Mizutani's most dolorous guitar passages - icy reversed echo fire longing to reach beauty in its ugliness - feedback hijiacking the front from time to time. Even after a false ending after 29 minutes, it marches back up again - now the tape getting noisier with flutter and pops - until it collapses again after Miztani rumbles out every squiggle of the six strings in a calming ascent to the fuzz goddess of feedback. A very excellent and great variation on the traditional closing number.
To wrap up, basically this is a purchase for those looking for some un-traditional Rallizes jammage. After the first disc, things get really interesting with the improvs and epic The Last One - a perfect winter listen if your stuck in a big city apartment hiding from the snow.
Disc 1: 5/10
Disc 2: 9/10
Overall: 7/10 - PD
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Disc 2: Memory Is Far / Strong Out Deeper Than The Night/ Flames of Ice / Night of The Assassins / Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (Part 2)
Disc 3: Improvisation / Strong Out Deeper Than The Night / Romance Of Black Grief / Memory Is Far #1 / Memory Is Far #2 / Field Of Artificial Flowers / Flames of Ice / Night Of The Assassins
A 3-disc set on Univive, this set comprises a roughly similar era (1973-1980) as Great White Wonder except this one deals with studio/practice jams in addition to the live damage. The sound quality overall is better than Great White Wonder set, with the early tracks being taken from various gigs and therefore better curated (to a point).
Disc 1: Subtitled " From Mizutani Selection Reel 1973-1975" which is supposedly Mizutani's own greatest performances from that time period - sounds tasty to me! The sound quality is very bright and has good range considering the age of the performances, there are tape gurgles and flips and random cuts to end the songs as usual. These appear to all be live versions, with a decent amount of tape hiss.
It starts with a gentle folky version of Memory Is Far, a good quality version for so early in their recorded career (tape hiss and noise notwithstanding). Mizutani appears to be with just a (prominent) drummer, and its a gently swinging version that this one is - just a simple folky rhythm and backbeat as Mizutani tells his gooey love story - la de da ing himself to a close. Very Nice.
Quick tape tape flip to The Last One '70 and lets make it clear right here that this is an entirely different beast than the normal The Last One - THAT RIFF isnt present yet - this jam is a more lysergic Quicksilver/ 69 Velvets thing than THAT RIFF is. Mizutani leads us in with some fractured soloing interspersed with feedback over a languid groove of a rhythm guitar, bass and drums. Mizutani steps back from the guitar slingin to start his rising pleading wail to the heavens - a more dramatic Herion-style bellow ebbed to and fro - he knows just where he is going. About 7 minutes in he detonates his distortion and we are off in particularly atonal single note Reed-isms until it manages to cut off - bummer . . . Really great organic early Rallizes JAM.
You Were Known starts off in a beautiful echo world, notes glistening across your ears as a distant rhythm guitar is heard trying to peek through the haze - yet just as we think it might do so - WHAMMO distorto echo tsunami hits. After extinguishing his nickel wound fire, the song kicks in proper with the band (rhythm, bass+drums) joining in, Mizutani now trading echo solos with his strained voice. The band is pretty together behind the echo onslaught, keeping this a hazy drift into the oceans of night (tape cuts aside.) I can see why Mizutani picked this one - total RAMPAGE on his part - untill it cuts right off. ARRRGHHH, MIZUTANI you perverse tape cutting bastard. EPIC.
Cry of Bird gently ushers itself in with a full band arrangement with huge droning bass threatening to take over the track at any moment. Some whispy guitar lines punctuate the passages between the vocals from Mizutani, who is also happening to also sing very in a very reverbed yearning style. A beautiful 6 minute meditation.
Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (melodic version) starts up - a tight together opening and good run through. A decent version.
Tape cut to TOTAL ROCK ABANDON of Diza Star - drums are pumping in 4/4, Mizutani is loosing it on guitar, the bass is pounding a sub-troggs riff into the ground - THIS IS LIFE ALTERING HIGH ENERGY RIGHT HERE KIDS - total wipeout - (Diza Star is always sooooooooooooo Doghead). The energy just keeps RISING AND RISING AND RISING - until cutting out after 3 minutes - FUNK!!!
This starts another weirdo improv jam - feedback guitarist in addition to Mizutani with some wild effects engaged are jamming something weird between the rhythm section - bass feedback and tape flips making this Faust like. Everyone settles in for another pumping groove, phase shifters going off like car alarms until it suddenly becomes Field of Artificial Flowers - which apparently we entered at the bridge with here. It chugs in overtly bassy throb until it falls apart at the 5 minute mark. Even as a third of the song I like it.
Quick cut to Romance of Black Grief, again with the giant farting bass of death leading the ballad. Mizutani sounds like he is playing through an AM/FM clock radio behind the overwhelming bass on this track. Mizutani is thankfully in tune and making up for the bass dominance, singing sweetly - until it cuts off in the middle of the verse. I guess our 50 minutes were up . . .
Disc 2: was recorded on 12/13/1980 at Hosei University - its also written on the back cover that this is the incomplete soundboard master for Rallizes experts to label everywhere. Its Fujio years which means its Mizutani, Fujio Yamaguchi on second guitar, Doronco Gummo on Bass and some guy on drums. This is almost an hour long set, so i imagine about 20-30 minutes are missing . . . especially with all the fades that happen to the songs before the listener is done with them. FRUSTRATION!
Shockingly, Memory Is Far starts out this set as well, fading into the desolation of a university theatre loaning its soul for the event. Mizutani is echo mixed front and center in a well balanced mix with a nice bass feel - Fujio is embellishing the song with his tasty Sterling-esque licks. Its the 80's deep cut treatment for this one - swaying in its dream-state. Almost 5 minutes in, Mizutani lets loose his thunder solo of Neil Young-style ecstatic melodic destruction - Fujio occaisionally trading some licks here and there - until we return to the song proper - unfortunately it fades out gently after 8 minutes. Bummer.
Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (melodic version) starts up after the quick fade - both guitarists adding some angular stabs before submitting to the bass melody. Mizutani sounds strong belting out the lyrics as Fujio adds some surf guitar stabs to the proceedings between comping chords - they even get into some wonderful atonal dueling solos between verses. At 13 minutes this is a decent version.
Flames of Ice starts off in some different fumbling time signatures until everything collides together and Fujio and Mizutani ascend to the atonal clouds. Mizutani is strong again behind the mic - his words echoing to the pissed distance. Fujio reigns it in as Mizutani lets it loose, comped chords giving way to scabrous white lights of the overdriven universe against the shouted vocals. The cat and mouse of the jam finally falls apart for no reason around the 8 minute mark.
A high tempo Night of The Assassins kicks in next, Mizutani coating the song with atonal icing, shouting out the words with punky snarl. A great groove in the high tempo of this version, Mizutani sounds like he's activating a chainsaw every time he takes off into flight - that upwards buzzing of skronk that is surprisingly restrained here. Chugging along like a 70's street pimp towards his nights collection, the swaggering bounce propels this for much of its 12+ duration and ending on a weird vocal cue from Mizutani . . . . Fade Out to . . ..
Fade in to Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (Part 2) (atonal slinky spider version) - and what a racket this one be - making a fool of the melodic version beforehand. All menace and wagging of the electric middle feedback finger - you just KNOW you're in for a great skronk ride in this monolithic tank! Dual feedbacking howls scout the landscape as the tank drives forward - Miztani eventually opening the hatch to yell out his warnings to the souls healthy enough to stare back at him. This is a heavy groover and they just keep it up up up until after 14 minutes it fades out . . . . Dammit incomplete source - you tease!
Disc 3 - Demo Recording 1976 - what i would assume to be a demo of songs . . . in a studio . . . or more likely a rehearsal pad. Almost 70 minutes of demos . . . they could be great or
This disc begins with a true shocka! an Improvisation already in progress. A weird dub-like bass with some drums breaking beats, Mizutani playing over some SYNTH squeals - definitely a weird atmosphere - sounds like a future Laswell production until the tape cut - to just synth and echo guitar chasing each other around the jam space, panning over each other into weird Sun Ra-like ambiance until after seven minutes of weirdness it suddenly fades out - UNIQUE and INTERESTING.
Cut right to Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (melodic version) - nice and tight at the intro - sounding more 80's than mid 70's but i can't really be sure - two guitars, bass and up front drums. Although the rhythm team messes up the changes in the song, this one goes along fairly straight ahead, nothing special really. For a demo its pretty loose, but not in a good way and goes on a long long time at 10+ minutes until a strange quick fade out into . . .
Romance Of Black Grief which ups the ante of tape hiss and hidden guitars, switching the instruments in the stereo spectrum - Mizutani's vocals bleeding into microphones across the room. Its a decent version with Mizutani eventually leading a good solo that almost cuts through the tape hiss - did i mention TAPE HISS on this one - oh, ok - tape hiss - pretty standard fare though its fades out in the middle again . . .
Another version of Memory Is Far (#1) starts in with Mizutani stretching his crooning capacities as they sway into the song. Again a typical performance outside although they almost drop the song via flubbed chord changes a couple of times. Mizutani starts a solo and then a sudden tape cut around the 5 minute mark goes into a solo weird electric piano doing almost "Memories" from CATS or something very similar - WTF? It fades out into . . .
Memory is Far (#2) already in progress which sounds about as average as the previous take, although it gets progressively sloppier as it ambles along - about 4 minutes until it fades out . . .
Fade into Field of Artificial Flowers, and things seem to be getter better finally - the stoned bass groove is going down a deep road - Mizutani cutting loose with a phased solo sputtering out in all directions - surviving the tape cuts and ascending the heights of the studio walls - wailing on for the remainder of the track - its a glorious example of Mizutani saving the day by choosing to disintegrate the half-hearted backing band by sending out his pure energy to levitate the track above the normal - pulling the drummer out of the doldrums to jam it out with him descending into weird altered zones of feedback improv with the second guitarist trying to keep something together with some bizzarro effects. Somehow the rhythm section reconnects to return to the groove with Mizutani obliging with the stoned lyrics and verse again until it resolves and fades out - A MAGICAL 17 MINUTE VERSION.
Although im spent, on comes a deep groove version of Flames of Ice - early Sabbath heavy and Mizutani making his guitar solos sounds as if they born purely out of reefer . . . psycho phased tantrums of guitar surround the ghost story unfolding (why do i always get so blown away by Flames of Ice . . . ) as the netherworld collapses seven steps behind him - this is mindfunk of the highest order!!!! It burns everything clean until the unfortunate 9 min fadeout in the middle of a verse again . . . TOTAL BUMMER
Night Of The Assassins leads in with dual feedback - uptempo and rolling - even extra tambourine!!! WATCHOUT! - MIZUTANI IS DOUBLETRACKING HIS VOCALS!!!! WHERE AM I???????????????????????????????????? This is THE studio version - high and tight with dueling solos from the two guitars - feedback searing underneath throughout the persistent bass melody. HOLD THE PHONE THERE'S A SAX SOLO (ANDY MACKAY STYLE) AT THE END!!!!!!!!!!! WHERE AM I?????????????? Its SEX BOMB BABY 5 years early!!!!!!!!!!! This could be THE underground extended-play single of 1976 if it was made- who even sounded like this?
UNIQUE TO THE MAX, BROTHERS AND SISTERS!!!!
So to wrap it up - the first disc has some killer selections but suffers from tapes running out, the second disc is a good but frustrating 1980 deep cut performance and disc 3 has some very unique highpoints bookending the studio plod - cant anything be easy in the Rallizes universe?
Its worth the hunt for the unique elements of the 3rd disc and the strength of the first, the second disc is kind of anonymous for that period, but i feel that the concert is better captured on December's Black Children.
Disc 1 - 1973-75: 8/10
Disc 2 - 1980 : 6/10
Disc 3 - 1976 Studio : 7/10
Overall : 7/10 - PD
Wednesday, February 22, 2012
FE FI FO FUM - I smell a compilation album on 10th Avenue Freeze Out.
This thing was one of the first things by the band widely available a few years ago and as its a comp bootleg of a few of their best performances ill suss it out as to why this thing is still mandatory in the here and now given Phoenix's "re-issuing" of vast chunks of the catalog.
Now, I aint saying this thing is bad by any means - it just contains a lot of different choices then I would personally make about assembling something like this - the major glaring piece being TWO VERSIONS OF OTHERWISE MY CONVICTION. It was totally unecessary on the 67-69 cd and unnecessary on this - its just not that interesting to hear both in one listening.
Consider the rant over - now to the tunes . . .
Otherwise My Conviction starts it all off - here's what i said about it before on the 67-69 Et Live album " Mizutani giving us a punctuated yelped wave of Seeds style drive - a simple vocal hook with Mizutani yammering away up front of a surf style bouncing bass. There's even a simple tasteful fuzz solo in the middle of it all that reappears to lead out the track. Yet for all its apparent enterprise to be a single, its most appealing in its perennial looseness of rhythm and percussion instruments - emitting a stoned Amon Duul style feel it the midst of it all. A great unique (yet not for this cd) song." - funny how that still applies on this cd. I mean it IS a good song no doubt - but the doubling up is so uneccesary.
Next is Valie De L'au - a gentle picked ballad with gorgeous singing underneath a layer of tape hiss and the accompaniment on varied percussion and other guitars, gently fading into a loop by its end. Its a brilliant melancholy ballad that sounds as if it were on the Mizutani album.
Cut to Enter The Mirror in one of my personal favorite versions - a hazy sunday afternoon languid version as it starts with some wonderful Sterling-esque picking from Fujio on second guitar - this is most probably from the 1980/1981 timeframe - although it's mastered incredibly loud - when Mizutani jumps from gentle picked harmonic rays of reverb to the distortion by the end of the song - it feels as if the earth is splitting in two and he is playing white hot magma instead of the guitar - contrast is not the right word - it swallows the band whole inside its phase shifting convulsions - INCREDIBLE 13+MINUTE VERSION!
Smokin' Cigarette Blues is a masterpiece - but on this particular compilation its mastered so low as to be a ghost of itself - to quote Nancy Kerrigan " WHY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" WTF? 10th Avenue Freeze Out. I cant imagine hearing it at this volumne not knowing any better as my first time experiencing the song - total limp wristed volume job guys . . .
Flames Of Ice is up next - with that same molten sound carried over from Enter The Mirror - I would postulate that its from the same show. Rumble-esque rhythm chords are pounded out by Fujio as Mizutani sweeps back and forth in his lava detection destruction device - the rhythm section keeping it grounded in mid tempo groove. Those ragged reverbed chords build in pummel until the earth opens up for Mizutani to scorch it again - AMAZING FUNK THIS BE!! Mizutani gets crazy with his effects towards the end until the whole band dives under the fadeout. Again a 17 minute version for the ages.
Field of Artificial Flowers is the MARQUE version as featured on Live 1973 (and Heavier Than A Death In The Family). Here's what i've said before: " what a scorched earth version this is. If you have doubts about this being their best rocker, put them aside as Mizutani and company GROOVE like no other on the intro stanzas, and then out of nowhere, after piercing the highest registers with his hyper treble distortion, the group slinks into an amazing CAVEMAN lock groove (imagine Yoo Doo Right on fire) that stomps its way down the island. Serious rare wah damage from Mizutani as he leads the march in face melting solos of white hot electricity until the bassist suddenly picks up the original groove, their spinal cords energized enough to belt out the final rock groove, Mizutani sounding like he absorbed enough energy to belt out the chorus to the highest mountain climbers. Unfortunately, as they pick up the lock groove again, the track fades out - argh. This is THE DEFINITIVE VERSION of Field, unlike any others with that caveman stomp and hyper treble frying electricity- such a great version." MANDATORY RALLIZES LISTENING.
Strong Out Deeper Than The Night is from Live 77 (Aka Tachikawa) " Sexy slinky Strong Out Deeper Than the Night begins and builds in creepy crawly intensity to its vocal hooks and guitar meltdowns - the bass diligently walking in psychic sound circles only to get sucker-punched and have to immediately recover. There is a real sense of BOTH guitars letting loose during the solos into a molten feedbacker glory that finally appears on this particular jam - almost cutting out the recording completely at certain points until it melts out indefinitely. " HOWEVER IT FADES OUT ONLY AFTER 2 MINUTES - AGAIN WTF? 10th AVENUE FREEZOUT!!!
And sadly, Otherwise My Conviction (Version 2) ends this thing in a wimper - the wimpier version of the song - woof.
So there it is - a seemingly well curated collection for the beginner or Rallizes expert - but botched in a few places - a few aggravating places.
If they had just cut out this thing down to:
Enter The Mirror
Smokin' Cigarette Blues (real LOUD version)
Flames of Ice
Field of Artificial Flowers
It would be perfect and unassailable - tis a shame.
Overall still get this for the Enter The Mirror and Flames of Ice alone - 7.5/10. - PD
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Disc 2: Strong Out Deeper Than The Night / Otherwise Fallin' In Love With You / Field of Artificial Flower / White Waking / A Memory is Far / Improvisation
Disc 3: Dream / Night of The Assassins / Field of Artificial Flowers / The Night Collectors / Flames of Ice / A Voice of Bird
Disc 4: Flames of Ice / Night of The Assassins / Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (Part 1) / A Memory is Far / Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (Part 2)
Thanks to those good bootleggers at Phoenix, we have this interesting to say the least early career spanning (1974-1980) set of four live shows - a Rallizes appetizer combo plate of a set.
Now im not going to speculate the hows or whys of this package originally on Univive was conceptually put together - the sound quality ranges from fair to fairly good on all the dates - all the shows having very good bits and some odd clunkers and tape flutters to say the least. I can only basically assume its meant to be a sophomore Rallizes fan's first deep initiation purchase - all good to great shows but nothing of the sustaining spectacular variety.
This has taken a few listens to get into - admittedly the first track on the first disk put me off of this thing for a while (a couple months to be exact) - real slop-o Rallizes (sub-Godz like in its execution - more on that later).
Enough intro splat you say - we'll lets dive in!
Disc 1 is from 7/13/1974 at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo - Mizutani, a rhythm guitarist, probably Hiroshi Nar on bass and a really decent drummer - almost 74 minutes in its length. The booklet that comes with the set has Moshe Idel of Toledo, Spain describe this set as "a fabulously aggressive performance" - I guess Moshe had some strong drinks before writing that as this is a fairly laid back set from Rallizes - really the start of their Electric Phoenix era (1974-1978) in my book - its barbed wire but CENTERED, whereas the truly wild Rallizes on their initial punque era are far left of center. He even goes so far to compare this to the Guitar Amp Tape version of Sister Ray - MOSHE WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO? C'MON DUDE! Yes, there are some awesome solos but the band just aint that together man - its a transition year.
This seems to be an audience recording due to the chatter and hand clapping occasionally making an appearance throughout. This has the highest guitar highs of all the discs along with the lowest lows.
Field of Artificial Flowers stumbles in so mightily drunk (which is what stalled my earlier attempts - hotdog being thrown down a hallway loose - get me?) - but for an early show this is pretty good fidelity - drums front and center although not especially driving on this version, the bass is prominent and the second out of tune guitar also audible. Mizutani sounds pissed - so pissed he's taking it out on his amp - a real ugly nasty fuzz on his solos leading the plod. The yell/shouted vocals give way about halfway though to the some really manic WL/WH Lou Reed-isms from Mizutani as the rhythm section finally starts to drive this thing into overdrive - eventually Mizutani's guitar becomes pure white heat until it falls apart as loosely as it came in.
Some garbled drip and drops until the rare Inside Heart strums in, a tough ballad if that makes any sense - a stoic Crazy Horse-esque force building in intensity until Mizutani steps on the awesome pedal and sends out those perfect solo notes that drift and melt away far above the metaphysical planes - burning the metals until he returns to the sacred strum of the verses again. A whooshing is heard throughout perhaps the second guitarist doing some Roxy Music-Eno style live manipulations with a phase-shifter? Wouldn't put it past them. Nor should you. Mizutani solo's the song to an end of feedback and some (gasp) mild applause and chatter?
Otherwise Fallin' In Love With You comes in all cloying and bright - upbeat in tempo compared to later versions. Mizutani is delightfully in tune and strumming like Hackamore Brick - there's even some fans clapping in time !!! WHAT! CROWD APPROVAL! WHOA! Mizutani takes the first solo all inside Sterling-esque (everything is an esque in my world). The tape speeds seems to be fluctuating which sends this minutely out of tune for sections - kinda like being drowsy but not asleep. The second solo from Mizutani loosens up and gets more out and noisy until it falls apart.
Angel comes strumming in way out of tune next - the rhythm guitarist flubbing chords - it takes about a minute for this one to come together ( in the purest MC5 sense - RIP Mike Davis) - about two minutes in Mizutani decides to take over and just stomps on the destructo box - SOLO TIME MUTHAFUGGERS!!! - it pretty much drowns out the rhythm guitar and just rises above the incompetence. Eventually, Mizutani comes in to tell us of his angel before taking flight again. Some really beautiful playing before the song falls apart again.
Whoops! Here we go again with Otherwise Fallin' In Love With You - a second set version? I guess no one will know - maybe Mizutani just had a perverse sense of humor - playing endless versions of the same ballad in the same set . . . This version is about as together and enjoyable as the first version but much shorter and falls apart in about half the time.
You Were Known comes gently strumming in - another manly tough ballad - reminiscent of Killer era Alice Cooper for some reason. Behind the tough tight rhythm section Mizutani cuts loose his second best solo of the night - truly stretching in its totality from tonal to atonal and back again - really killer speed freak guitar which pushes the rhythm section to drive it on home - an Oh Sweet Nuthin with Lou on guitar instead of Doug - until the whole thing drops out on tape.
At over 20 minutes, The Last One is appropriate enough here - the whole band starting in great unison with some great additional listenable feedback from Mizutani who is yelling out his story to whoever is brave enough to keep listening. Almost from the get go he is simmering with his best wild strummed solos - breaking into atonal single notes stabs as he leaves the rest of the band behind - really jaw dropping work as he ascends and descends the guitar neck - perhaps his most busy fretwork on record in my memory ( I will contradict myself in the future - rest assured). About halfway in the rhythm section attempts to jam it in a different direction but Mizutani kills it with stabs of feedback - there is a brief jazzy jam with the drummer which erupts the volcano of Mt. Destruction until the thick skulled among them bring back THE RIFF - Mizutani is really vocally pissed and expressing it! He steps into the final solo to end all solos - even with the tape drop outs and garbles this is really awesome mind expanding HIGH ENERGY ROCK - Mizutani screeching into the atonal beyond dragging the band back after 2 false endings into free splatter - definitely a top tier The Last One.
Disc 2 - is from 10/01/1975 at Shibuya Adah in Tokyo. Its Mizutani, a rhythm guitarist, probably Hiroshi Nar on bass and another very competent drummer. This recording sounds more like a soundboard recording than the '74 show - at half the length too. Moshe Idel describes this as being "more overtly psychedelic" than the '74 show - I don't really know what that means in this context - there is some slight echo in the drums I guess. If anything this is more Robitussin than the previous gig . . . songs are always wanting to fall apart. Perhaps the least affecting disk in the box.
We fade into the previously begun Strong Out Deeper Than The Night - the band is tighter than it was about a year earlier - Mizutani's guitar is in flight in a better balanced mix with all instruments on a level playing field. Mizutani wafts in after his solo - upfront and in tune - deep in the vocal pocket as bursts of feedback and hiss pervade the song. About six minutes in they do this feedback gap where the band hits back in after a few seconds which really shows how deep into their groove they had developed by this point. This is a good slow burn version of the song which unsurprisingly tape cuts right into . . .
Otherwise Fallin' in Love With You - which happens to have the same intro guitar chord which is really confusing after the tape cut . . . This version is much more laid back in execution than '74 - there is a simpatico relationship between the roles of all the instruments - although its no Cable Hogue version, its very nice - tasteful soloing throughout by Mizutani until it falls apart.
Field Of Artificial Flowers rumbles in in mid-tempo anger (Rallizes don't get good at starting songs until a bit later) - all swagger on this version - the drumming being especially good. Mizutani is machismo in his delivery - until he unleashes the beast of electric thunder notes. The bass is very in the pocket in comparison to other versions which provides a more Seeds-esque rock groove that really pumps the drummer's violent fills and cymbals - a really powerful version from the ensemble until it cuts off.
White Waking comes strummed in - a nice version with a relatively laid back solo from Mizutani - nothing too special.
A Memory Is Far screeches in next through waves of feedback from both guitarists - to reveal its balladeering jaunt into the gooey sweet romantic center of Mizutani's mind. Mizutani is pleading in his delivery, Dylan-esque in its almost snotty whine. The band almost looses the song about three and a half minutes in but recovers to let Mizutani soar for a bit on guitar in the ether. Again nothing too special until it cuts out.
An Improvisation closes the set out - and what a weird high energy rocker it is - echo blasts from both guitars against a driving 60's bass riff - similar to the Laid Down '76 improv - really awesome skronk going through multiple tape transfers until it unfortunately cuts out - (WHY??????) So damn frustrating to dip your toe into the eye of a storm and to not have it electrically removed by a guitar shark . . .
Disc 3- is from 7/22/1977 at Maison Franco - Japonaise in Tokyo , a few months after their masterpiece was recorded that year (Live '77). There is a good amount of tape hiss that pervades this set as well as some serious weirdo background noises from effects boxes and otherwise. It appears to be a three piece, Mizutani with Hiroshi Nar on bass and an energetic drummer. This is the second most consistent show of the box - it should be up there as 1977 was definitely a high water mark for Rallizes.
We enter with weirdly pitched tape garbles until the Dream arrives - one of my favorites in any configuration. Two note bass drone as Mizutani floats above in solo heaven - cymbals calling from another country. Mizutani's vocals are phase shifted into oblivion - robot laser Mizutani is more accurately singing, whispering into the feedbacking void as single notes pierce the swooshing veil. It pulses along its path until abrupbtly ending.
Night of The Assassins starts up all upbeat and bouncy. Those robot vocals are seemingly going to stick around the whole set, so I guess we should get used to them. Behind the undulating tape hiss, Mizutani delivers some great solos between vocal sedan deliveries. A really good particularly driving upbeat version with a great outro solo.
Field of Artificial Flowers stumbles into being in a mid tempo haze - Mizutani taking his time at the bridge to start his solo - more deliberate in his phrasing - recalling Larry Wallis at points. Not as driving as other versions but also 5 minutes long.
Field feedback segues directly into The Night Collectors which picks up the pace as it grooves along, Mizutani picks up on the drive and leads them into a high energy tom tom groover, letting loose on some feedback drenched surf solos from Mars - exploding back into the main groove stronger than ever. High High Energy!!
Feeding off that energy that start into particularly swinging high energy Flames Of Ice with great phased soloing from Mizutani to start it off - only vocally intoning sporadically to contrast the amp destruction engrossing the room - jabbed at chords and detuned bridges fighting the fleet fingered skronk points hitting the atmosphere. The rhythm keeps building and building as Mizutani lays it down - even Keiji Haino was cowering in some shadow of the stage, waiting for his day as skronk king to come. Truly pulsars of guitar hemorrhage swallowing misery whole - Mizutani ends this version on his lonesome slashing out chords for the echo eternity. If there is a "manic" version of Flames of Ice this is it - 14 minuites of caveman abandon.
A Voice Of Bird (aka Cry of Bird) starts with some tuning and tape flips until the sad ballad begins in earnest - Mizutani delicately solo's us into the song - the bird flying above as bass swims below. Hushed vocals are as delicate as the guitar until it erupts between the gentle verse strums and feedback. This is one of the best downer ballads in the Rallizes songbook given a beautiful reading here - its first since the late sixties i believe and a fitting way to end the set - awash in the tape hiss and phase shifters . . . as we hear voices in the distance that mutate into tape flips and random soloing from Mizutani until we fade out.
Disc 4: is originally a bonus disc in the set - from 11/ 07/1980 at Kanagawa University. As tends to be the case, this show is the best fidelity of the bunch as its from a much later date. It features the awesome line-up of Mizutani, Fujio Yamaguchi on second guitar (lending that tasty two lead interplay version of Rallizes), Doronco Gummo on bass and some guy on drums. This show is also the most consistent show in the box and a long one at 72 minutes.
Flames Of Ice starts up from the lowest register of the bass with a true menace to it - Mizutani and Fujio in dueling guitar splatter splendor - trading electric stabs between the confident vocals. This version like most of the 80's material is about the deep cut groove, the bass front and center in the mix. Prickly guitars crawl around the jam, Mizutani's abstract with tasty blues licks from Fujio - imagine for a minute a shadow-world evil Wayne Kramer and Sonic Smith slinging atonal barbs at the MC5's most out - guitars oppose then meet, repelling off their harmonies into discordant feedback laced malevolent simmers. A sixteen minute meditational funk of the highest psychic order.
Next Nights Of The Assassins leads in with both guitars ascending into atonal bliss mountains as they tune up - Mizutani give a final blast of white noise and then Doronco drops the modified bass riff , moderately downtown subway tempo style. The band builds it up, Fujio embellishing the chords with bluesy scales - Mizutani is confident and in tune as he tells his story into his echo world. Both guitarists restrain themselves, dancing around the edges of the song (in a Quicksilver sense) until Mizutani lets it loose at the fourteen minute mark with Fujio responding with Sterling style riff bombs. After about sixteen minutes it falls apart into amp drone as the taper fiddles around a table and the guitarists tune up again - 2 minutes of concrete waiting that yells for an editor . . .
Finally we ease into Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (Part 1) - gentle strumming giving way for a truly narcoleptic trance of a song. Everything is gently gliding by with Mizutani guiding us via intonation - he continually lets loose gorgeous solos, flying above Fujio's grounding chords before returning to his intonations again - occasionally both guitars even ascending to the spaceways. Really lush and aching version with Mizutani leading the final outro solo. Great Long version.
Following on the heals is A Memory Is Far - slinking in the same fashion as Strong Out . . . even the chords are similar enough to through me off, gliding into a baked ether, although the tape quality seems to continually degenerate for some reason, some nasty distracting audio fuzz starting around the 11 minute mark and growing until the song ends - a real bummer.
And the bummer continues as they start Strong Out Deeper Than The Night (Part 2) - hugely distracting tape fuzz overcomes the track - (HEY PHOENIX HOW ABOUT NOT PUTTING THIS TRACK ON HERE GADDAMMIT!) - Although its REALLY unlistenable until about 2 minutes in, I promise if you fight through it you get to a radically different version of Strong Out (although it could be taken as a jam) - a slowly grinding jam - gone off all traces of beauty we have a stranded at a late night midwest gas station motor riff condensed into terse statement of factory made desolation. Five notes combusting in the night with Mizutani pleading into his echo mind for sanity. The duel guitars screaming into space, building the creepy crawly tension until it of course fades out mid song - bummer.
So overall, this is a purchase for the initiated Rallizes connoisseur - Disc 1 having some manic guitar displays contrasting the drunk band, Disc 2 being the runt of the litter, Disc 3 having some manic jamming and energy and Disc 4 having the best overall and unique performance but also having those awful sound gurgles towards the end.
Individually i'd rate them as:
Disc1 - 1974 - 7/10
Disc 2 - 1975 - 5/10
Disc 3 - 1977 - 6/10
Disc 4 - 1980 - 8/10
All around its a 6.5/10. - PD
Monday, August 22, 2011
(Sorry for the brief siesta the past month - life gets in the way of band specific record reviews sometimes . . . )
Ah yes, the primordial Les Rallizes Denudes. Their first recorded music presented to the world in 1991, a good few years after this set of tunes was recorded (1967-1969).
The sound and the man (Mizutani) in their shrieking early feedbacker glory contrasted with some beautiful ballads and 60's punque rockers.
Mizutani and original company (bassist Moriyasu Wakabayashi, drummer Takashi Kato and rhythym guitarist Takeshi Nakamura) actually have something far far different together than any other version of the future group - PSYCHIC GROUP INTERPLAY. Yes, for a brief couple of years this street walking manimal of 4 longhairs actually played with group abandon and input - percussion flourishes, backup vocals, jams that don't solely consist of Mizutani solos. This was a white hot group of destruction - taking all their cues from The Velvet Underground and Nico, The Jacks's Vacant World and Blue Cheer's Vincebus Eruptum.
Takashi Kato is the best drummer to ever play for Rallizes - his hyper energetic tom tom hurricanes set forth a launching pad for the group on their wild improvisations while his restrained small percussion accent the ballads.
Wakabayashi is extremely competent as well, always in flux and obviously influenced by Entwistle to never stay still on the bass except when asked to provide nervous system intoxicating primal droning bass notes to anchor the compositions.
Nakamura is the foil to Mizutani's eceltic playing, providing the gentle rhythm work or wild feedback abandon in perfect doses.
When these forces come together, they produced such unique psychic tapestries of sound that one wonders what the cards would have held in store had they not had Wakabayashi involved in the Yodo Go Incident. Truely something to think about as much as a post 68 Velvets with Cale still in the band
Straight off the bat we land headfirst into the in progress Smokin' Cigarette Blues - tape hiss cackling, drums full speed ahead, guitars mud slacked together in a dense stew of black hole feedback, the bass submerged in midnight submarine textures, and even a tambourine furiously swaying back and forth in the vague distance. The evil sinewy textural throb of the sound bounces back and forth, dynamics revved up and then let go - the tension and release of Mizutani's electronic howl - Kato's drums always leading the surges - pure black heat until its tape cuts out from exhaustion . This is THE atonal anthem of energy from Rallizes - as bracing and life affirming as an earthquake. Its 19+ minutes fly by in a matter of seconds, only leaving you wanting more. Its really only ESP style free jazz and the early Velvet's Nothing Song / European Son explorations that I can use as reference points for this 1967 free rock masterpiece - there's really nothing else like this.
Next comes the very 60's punque rocker Otherwise My Conviction - Mizutani giving us a punctuated yelped wave of Seeds style drive - a simple vocal hook with Mizutani yammering away up front of a surf style bouncing bass. There's even a simple tasteful fuzz solo in the middle of it all that reappears to lead out the track. Yet for all its apparent enterprise to be a single, its most appealing in its perennial looseness of rhythm and percussion instruments - emitting a stoned Amon Duul style feel it the midst of it all. A great unique (yet not for this cd) song.
Things slow down for the Les Bulles De Savon - another unique track on this disk. A beautiful lilting guitar leads into a folk tune from Mizutani, triangles keeping the time as the rueful ballad emerges from the ebbing narration, a bass emitting drone pulses as it drifts along in its hazy 3 minutes. Short and sweet.
An early Memory is Far comes gently swinging in west coast folk-rock glory (think Hackamore Brick), the tambourine keeping the hips shaking with Mizutani upfront pleading out the lyrics until the KAZOO solo (?) bridges the gap. In this version, Mizutani sounds loopy, almost wistful while singing - his acoustic guitar is his constant companion in the mirth until the SECOND kazoo solo (cant blame him for experimenting on small instruments - but its still so weird.)
Changing the tone is Cry of Bird, Mizutani's guitar bringing the delicate soloing of a clouded mist trembling in twilight. Mizutani restrains himself in search of his bleak muse, the bassist's droning single notes lay out the song until Mizutani takes off again in the guitar mist hitting the perfect notes. His pleading returns to guide us until the gentle fade out. A beautiful unique ballad unavailable elsewhere in the Rallizes canon.
And here we go again - straight into the second version of Otherwise My Conviction - This one having an even looser go at the tune - louder shouted vocals backing up an even more shambolic take on the song, multiple yelps and tambourine shaking occur and the guitar solos cut a bit looser. This one is my preferred version of the song, a little less tight arsed than the former and Mizutani feeling comfortable enough to rip it up on the outro. I really dont see why these BOTH needed to be on the record ( Mizutani's classic curious editorial decision making its debut I believe) but I guess like Charlie Parker's solos, one cant get enough.
Stumbling in next is a wild weird version of The Last One, but not one that you would recognize from later versions - this one is all throbbing bass and pulsing drums, Mizutani shouting with backup grunts from his bandmates until the feedbacker eruption guitar solos come cutting in - jagged and raw as a wound from a rusty butter knife. Wakabayashi is climbing and descending the neck in rapid fire Entwistle style, Kato's letting loose rolls after rolls and Mizutani's guitar becoming an unholy sonic transistor of amphetamine terror until everything falls into a noise loop (think John Cale's Loop). A great maelstrom of sonic decapitation and an incredibly primordial version of The Last One.
And just as the loop fades out, it comes back again as Untitled for 12 seconds - wooshing us to a sonic end.
This really is a completely transforming album of early Les Rallizes Denudes, their contrasts so blaring in the black on black light - fevered atonal rock meets shambolic ballads and surf punk. The DNA for their work to follow is all apparent and laid bare, but its in the cohesive vision of the BAND that exudes the greatest energy - their complementary animal urges providing the sonic template of transformation. If only there was the one version of Otherwise . . . but still almost perfect - 9/10 - PD.
A Request For The Release of Pre-1969 Rallizes Recordings:
I have a simple request for the future releases of material to those who have the capabilities and production facilities.
Please release more recordings from the pre-1969 group as evidenced on this recording.
As much as Les Rallizes Denudes is one of the few bands thought of as a conceptual whole (i.e. their periods of recording span a sonic narrative as a whole to most people instead of a more fragmented album/lineup period) - this early raw animalistic sonic maelstrom of music as sound is much to important to be left rotting in shelves and attics.
Smokin' Cigarette Blues is a masterpiece of 20th Century Music and its brother and sister live performances from the early Rallizes need to be released - the sonic knowledge to be acquired is infinite. As much as the group is singular, Rallizes are contemporaries with some of our most revered 20th century musicians (Sun Ra, Coltrane, Ayler, Velvets, Stooges) and deserve the same treatment of availability to their works as any museum would present a visual artist.
It is my hope that those who have kept this knowledge to themselves will see fit to broaden the human experience and PAY Mizutani as well. - PD
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Live June 22 1976 at Shibuya,Yaneura - an hour long set of their great second era.
(Rallizes eras according to me: atonal punque era 1967-1973, electric phoenix era 1974-1978, heavy psychic era 1979-1987, final era 1988-1997)
I got this as a bonus disc with the Volcanic Performance set, so im not sure on the specifics of personnel : probably Hiroshi Nar on bass, with somebody on (a really distant) drums.
This reasonably good quality live show starts in with the already started Memory Is Far , gentle and syrupy in its balladering, Mizutani singing out of tune, nothing too special in this version as it ends after only a few minutes.
Next is an Improvisation thats sounds like an outtake of Smokin' Cigarete Blues, free cymbals and repeat-o bass splatter as Mizutani wanders the electric phase shifter guitar jungle, Godz like in its dunce rock thud.
Dream fades in with a beautiful two note bass drone that drifts throughout the composition, hazy cymbals, Mizutani's guitar being the reverbed guiding light in the evil drone density. There is a heavy hanging air of suspense that envelops the song as it begins and builds in intensity, Mizutani barely an echoed whisper. (Sonic Youth wish they could be this engaging in guitar mist.) This is almost like a bizarro version of the Ocean, but instead of waves hitting the beach, we have pulsars hitting the night sky of your mind. Mizutani shows off his restrained sense of melodic and counterpointed echo guitar. Such a unique and evil track in the Rallizes canon. GREAT GREAT GREAT.
Filed of Artificial Flowers starts up, everything grooving in the super bassy oblivion. Not as hot as the 1973 version (what is?), but Mizutani is in fine singing form, and as they slink into the caveman groove, Mizutani cuts loose into a crusty chainsaw solo fighitng to cut through the uber-bassy rhythm, letting loose the ghosts of albert ayler and lou reed skronk into the moment. They rejoin the main thrust of the song with some slightly higher energy until Mizutani lets loose one of his UGLIEST guitar stabs, black sonic mud flying over everything, the guitar going through 40 different pedal changes until Mizutani finds the right sonic knife, slaying notes everywhere. A great long 12 minute version.
Night of The Assassins follows, shuffling in a slowed down tempo - all the better for it here - instead of sounding turgid, it sounds full of melodic purpose in the wake of Mizutani thrashings on Field. Mizutani tips his tasteful cap during the solos, keeping down the noise - literally at one point his signal seems about to disintegrate until its plugged back into Full Volume and another flight of the guitar phoenix begins. Some bass flubs stall this version later on as it drags on to the almost 10 min. mark - nothing too special, a pretty good version.
Quick tape cut to Strong Out Deeper Than The Night - a low key affair as well, although Miztani's guitar seems to have been mixed up proper again. Theres lots of galloping build towards the choruses in this one, until it slinks back again under the weight again of the bass riff or Mizutani's guitar explosions - all effects are full up and in the red. At least, until the bassist looses the riff which then cuts directly to . . .
Improvisation #2 with a driving 60's bass line that eventually brings the band back together in marching band style - Mizutani hitting the single note solo expressway - pure Deviants drive on this one, snare's a rat a tat tatting everyone onwards. Everything swooshes together to sound like a energy tunnel - Mizutani erupting at the entrance. This has a great long drive until it ends abruptly at a tape flip. A great Rallizes improv.
And then we fade into the weirdest SABBATH like version of The Last One i've ever heard (high energy style/tempo for the win!) - Hiroshi doing a great rapid note dive-bomb reinterpretation of the riff sounding like Geezer on speed, the drummer still keeping it martial on that snare and Mizutani soloing with a bazillion effects producing this trebly swirl echo screech - the audio mixer begins fading everything in at different times, leading to a seriously odd transition as the real death march begins in super slo mo down time - almost a feedback epitaph to the high energy just released into the atmosphere - Mizutani doing his best Nothing Song-esque droning dark notes and WAH damage until the fadeout . But oh man, what a SPECIAL version of The Last One here - completely unique in the Rallizes Canon.
Overall this has a lot of great driving surprises (including some great atonal improvisations), weird Mizutani guitar effects everywhere and the gorgeous DREAM with a couple of numbers that fade out too early or stick around too long. A better editor could have made this an amazing album, but as it stands in scrunched completeness - 6/10 - PD
(Just imagine this track order after you play it:
The Last One)
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Don' be fooled by the cover, Fujio aint on this particular platter of Rallizes action. Mizutani has another guitarist in addition to the bassist and drummer, who they are remains a mystery.
Four tracks of live rock action from 1973 - a short and sweet package in quality low fidelity crunch - in particular, you can hear Mizutani's youthful exuberance in his singing and guitar slinging.
The disc begins and fades into the repeat-o rock oblivion one can only call Field of Artificial Flowers, and what a scorched earth version this is. If you have doubts about this being their best rocker, put them aside as Mizutani and company GROOVE like no other on the intro stanzas, and then out of nowhere, after piercing the highest registers with his hyper treble distortion, the group slinks into an amazing CAVEMAN lock groove (imagine Yoo Doo Right on fire) that stomps its way down the island. Serious rare wah damage from Mizutani as he leads the march in face melting solos of white hot electricity until the bassist suddenly picks up the original groove, their spinal cords energized enough to belt out the final rock groove, Mizutani sounding like he absorbed enough energy to belt out the chorus to the highest mountain climbers. Unfortunately, as they pick up the lock groove again, the track fades out - argh. This is THE DEFINITIVE VERSION of Field, unlike any others with that caveman stomp and hyper treble frying electricity- such a great version.
Fade into The Last One, but here its not quite fully formed, adding credence to the fact that this IS probably from 1973 (same concert even). The drummer is in particular bashing away heavily as Mizutani is shout-screaming his invocations, the guitar trying to pierce the mighty THUD of it all. And THUD it does, odd drums fills pulsating around the beat / until tape cut into later in the song with Mizutani yelling at the mic until it fades out oddly. Great thudding version - so intersting to hear as its still being worked into the death march.
Night of The Assassins fades in next, upbeat and spiky- great cutting rhythm guitar contrasting Mizutani's electrical storm outbursts. The rhythm section is really tight for a Rallizes concert on this number, Mizutani letting loose with a more lyrical side in his solos than the past two numbers. Mizutani is coo-ing in tune and everything until he decides to erupt at the end with his guitar, shards of black everywhere until the fade out. A great upbeat version of the Rallizes staple.
Field of Artificial Flowers (Take 2) comes screaming in, but there is no way this is the same song - this is an entirely different bass line, vocal melody and tempo - could be from the end jam that was faded off from the earlier version (the lead guitar still in that searing high treble style). Anyways, what a great jam it is nonetheless, a giant swooping bass hook anchors the two minute composition, guitar screaming between vocal exhortations from Mizutani, almost a great POP song in that destruct-o Rallizes way until the fade out.
Its so nice to hear the 1973 punk Rallizes laying down their electric synapse rock, destroying membranes everywhere in their path. Like the best parts of Live 1972, we get a glimpse of the FURY that can be projected from Mizutani and company in the straight-on ROCK mode - no ballads. While not as devastating it its totality of vision as Live 77, this ranks right up there in the Rallizes canon, 30 minutes and all. An electric 9/10 - PD
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Disc 2: Feeling High / Fantastique / But I was Different / Field of Artificial Flowers / White Awakening / Night of The Assassins / Night of The Assassins
Cable, don't leave me here! Oh Cable Hogue, where ya been? (ok - ill stop the John Cale quotes)
Mizutani, you glorious mystery of a man - here you are given the chance to compile and present another winning argument for the LIFE AFFIRMING ENERGY of your sonic testaments in the form of a career spanning soundtrack to a documentary video SOLELY about how awesome your band is and spread over 2 cd's we have 3 Versions of Night Of The Assassins, 2 Versions of The Last One, 2 Versions of White Awakening and tape cuts, blurts, low fidelity everywhere . . .
Cable Hogue covers a lot of ground, with seemingly all performances centered around how awesome the solo within the songs are contrasted with the most achingly beautiful versions of Mizutani's best ballads. Theoretically, I should have watched the entire film instead of the clips i have seen on youtube forever to offer some compare/contrast, but until i snatch a boot dvd of it, thatll have to wait.
That being said, its hard to argue with Mizutani's Damon Edge/Faust Tapes approach throughout the record - I mean Mizutani I would have thought sequenced the 77 Live set with all the songs and tape flips that make that into such a cohesive energy statement - so perhaps here is a more natural (to Mizutani anyways) allocation of the Rallizes canon in his mindset.
Mizutani is joined in various lineups spanning a 25? year period by Nakamura Takeshi, Nagata Mikio, Shoda Shunichiro, Hiroshi Nar, Mimaki Toshirou, Takada Kiyohiro, Noma Yukimichi, and Takahashi Youkai. (So what this is saying is that Doronco (early-mid 80's bassman) and Fujio (early 80's rhythm guitarist) arent on the set - so no early 80's version - although with the sound qualities in flux throughout i would argue that there are late 80's/very early 90's versions on the set).
Disc 1 kicks off right in the middle of a high energy Night Of The Assassins (version 1), Mizutani launching into a phase shifted swirl of a solo after the scrunch of the tape edit. Some low fidelity especially on this version although with great bass sound that makes up for the lack of drums. Mizutani is in a lyrical mood while in outer space with his solos, bass and tambourine pumping along behind him until he spins his repeat-o riffs unto themselves as the song suddenly stops. A great abriged version.
Tape cut straight into perhaps the most beautiful of all Rallizes ballads, Otherwise Fallin' in Love With . . . , Mizutani arising from the tuning ashes to float above the clouds in reverbed guitar splendor, as the drums bring the backbeat and the huge whale of a bass descends in. Audience noise, tape garbles and the wind backup the band throughout the song. But oh the hazy drifting sunday vibe of a ballad this one is, Mizutani releasing his note perfect crystalline solos into the atmosphere between his most perfect coo-ing, bass shuffling between two Velvets chords into forever until the clouds collapse. So so so good - its hard to find a better 10 minute straight soloing section from any guitarist. My favorite version of any Rallizes ballad, gunk and all. For some reason the direct lead up to another jam starts, with Mizutani providing a Cinnamon Girl type coda intro before a ripping Field of Artificial Flowers fades out after 1 minute into . . .
White Awakening (version 1), another ballad sounding like its from the same concert, similar to Otherwise . . . but a different ballad altogether, the bass ascending and descending within the Velvet cloud as Mizutani implores in the yelping echo realm , guitar still in perfect fragile soaring beauty. Perhaps without the blurt of Field at the end of the previous track it would be too similar, but I cant really argue with the performance which is once again beautiful in its descent to tape hiss.
Tape flip/cut and we join into a high energy version of Flames of Ice, the ride cymbal high in the mix pumping it along for 30 seconds, before the band stops and directly reforms into The Last One (version 1). Two guitars are featured in this version, Mizutani rolling around in pure black noise behind that riff from the rhythm section until he intones his messages. The martial beat is uptempo in this version, the cymbals nice and high cutting through the guitar density, Mizutani cutting loose in Crazy Horse style glory until the song breaks down so that Mizutani can just explode in a phase shifted noise solo by himself for a couple of shattered minutes, full blackness into the headspace. The bass dares to reform the song after the earth parts and begins that death march again, Mizutani reclaiming the ashes of his distortion to provide lyrical mirrored end solos to siren like screeches within the mantra. The sonic desecration eventually breaks down into noise, with the bass threatening to jam the ending out until it falls apart to actual applause form the audience.
Fade into what else (after 24 minutes) but ANOTHER version of The Last One (version 2), and what a turgid appearance this one is in contrast, the march limping along into being. (As much as i respect his choices, this back to back compare contrast method of presentation was annoying enough when jazz cds were first reissued - this is a LISTENING experience, not a academic exercise, ugh - i mean what is this a throbbing gristle record?) The sound immediately gives us the clue that this is a late 80's performance, Mizutani especially sounding very solid-state. Now with all that being said, I CAN see why this was picked, as Mizutani takes a more Sharrock like sheets of noise sound approach to the guitar soloing, heavy on white noise and shattered clusters of notes - presenting a whole new FEEL - the guitar absolving everything in its excessive energy, threatening at points to destroy the amp. Pure noise until it literally falls apart into the amp hum universe.
So before we hit disk two, you can see from above we are going to get more compare/contrast segments - so grab that coffee or beer and here we go.
Disk 2 opens in pure Neu fashion with Feeling High, a rarity in Rallizes land, a higher fidelity studio jam with a catchy bassline, motorik drum beat and a super processed guitar (sounding like an early synth-guitar) from Mizutani climbing the repeat-o-walls in a great Rother style. What a refreshing short little jam, the catchy bass hook cycling in a circle until it suddenly stops and cuts out. Great great pop from Mizutani and Co.
Tape cuts to a high quality Fantastique, and oh what a FANTASTIC number this is as usual. Since Mizutani's formula is so effective in its iterations with the Rallizes Songbook, the more, er, organic built, for lack of a better term, numbers really give a sensation of freedom and drive. Built on a two note repeat-o bass riff and building drums, this jam follows a more Detroit approach to high energy rock in the purest Black To Comm variety, Mizutani exploring the phase shifted soundscape as the motorik beat increases, quick tape flip cuts to a an even faster building section until it suddenly drops out to a bass solo builds into Ice of Fire before suddenly dropping out into . . .
But I Was Different, another beautiful ballad (still in high quality) in purest New Age/Sweet Jane 1969 Live Versions mode, the bass descending languidly as Mizutani does some great Sterling Morrison style soloing over everything. Mizutani quietly intones towards the end as a tape cut happens before soloing us out again in restrained beauty until of course it drops out . . .
Tape flip to the megaton Field of Artificial Flowers, pumping its hard rock in high energy fashion, better in its low fi glory. What a groove on this version, like early Can driving a race car. Mizutani ripping the mind open with his manic destructo soloing during that amazing bridge, leaving nothing in his wake until the ending just impodes in high energy pile up and the mandatory tape cut. This competes with the 1973 version (to be assessed later) in ferocity.
Cut to White Awakening (version 2), even more laid back then the first version, but this is in higher quality, sounding 80's in its sonic range. Another great solo (as is the case of every track), but the performance seems rather perfunctory until it ends abrubtly. (Enter the Mirror or something could have been substituted for equal balladeering effect methinks).
Cut to the dual guitar excess of Night of the Assassins (version 2), both guitars soloing over the upbeat bass hook, Mizutani in tune in delayed stereo echo (or is this a studio version, his vocals could be double tracked?), hi-hat snapping away with disco fervor, catchy as can be. And lookout - an Andy Mackay style SAX solo at the end? - so weird but satisfying. This really is a quite unique version and justifies its second coming on the set as we quickly fade out to . . .
Night of The Assassins (version 3) (what else would do?) started by Mizutani's guitar for a change of pace, definitely more late 80's/early 90's sounding and slightly less upbeat than the previous version. Mizutani is out of tune with both his guitar and voice on this version - although once that distortion kicks on, that kind of criticism falls away. Although its easier to deal with this song back to back because of its bass line, of all the choices on this set, this seems the oddest, since its not that interesting sonically or solo wise. It abruptly ends 2/3's through as Mizutani monotones in silence and amp hum until he brings it back with his rhythm guitar to have the rest of the band finish the song with him in feedback.
Another 2 disc workout of the sonic variety. Overall the set is strong but I personally wish there was a little more restraint on the doubling up of tracks, its cool, but there are y'know 40 or so songs in the Rallizes songbook.
In an ideal curatorial move I would have laid this thing out as:
Night of the Assassins (Version 2)
Otherwsie Fallin in Love With . . .
Flames of Ice / The Last One (Version 1)
But I Was Different
White Awakening (Version1)
Field of Artificial Flowers
As it stands though, this still has some rare tracks, some great high energy burners and THE BEST COMP of ballads (repetitions and all) that you can buy. Thanks to those bootleggers at Phoenix Records for making this available at a reasonable cost for once. Overall 7/10. PD
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
A compilation of three performances from the 1980's version of Les Rallizes Denudes - from three different concerts - consider it a HEAVY introduction to the mind-frame of Mizutani's 80's output.
The sound of 80's Rallizes deserves some note as it isn't so much a drastic shift sonically in terms of the band itself but since technology was advancing at such a rapid rate, there is usually a much clearer and spacious sound to the concerts recorded from this time period. The bass and guitars have wider separation usually and the drums tend to have more range in the mix.
That being said, there are also some sonic differences in APPROACH to the songs - a denser, slower monolithic tempo tends to pervade the songs - as if Mizutani after 15 years of screech and blast wanted to give a DEEP CUT treatment to the songs - a HEAVIER approach to the songs psychically and physically - more drawn out single notes solos that explore within themselves.
It appears that Mizutani is with a bassist (probably Doronco) and drummer on the first cut while his is joined on the last two songs by a second guitarist.
Blind Baby has Its Mothers Eyes (aka Flames of Ice) leads the cd off in all its monolithic glory - the bass and drums up front as Mizutani spends extra special time with his tremolo and phase shifters on his guitar - a wavelength sonic cyclone of a guitar sound swooshes in as he intones his words to the echo world. The emphasis on this version is definitely to display the HEAVYNESS of the composition - its fundamental inertia. Towards the middle of this very long version, Mizutani's guitars eclipse everything else with the pure sound of his phase-shifter cycling back and forth before the bass and drums climb their way back up to finish the song. An apocalyptic version (think Chrome's Armageddon) of a mainstay in the Rallizes repertoire.
Coming in through the speakers next is the rare An Awful Eternity, a perfect drone vehicle in the Rallizes cannon. The rhythm guitarist plucks the strings to the minor chords as the drummer meditates over the tom toms in purest Mo Tucker style as Mizutani explodes the cold white light of his distortion. Mizutani is at his softest singing style (another characteristic of the 80's) moan speaking occasionally to remind us of the HUMANITY within their electric web. The song aches along in its mix of droning bass and guitars until blissfully drowning in static until its brief coda is complete. A real winner in the Rallizes catalog - the muscular drone ballad. (It really reminds me of a beautiful drawn out and disoriented Terry Riley/John Cale's The Protege off Church Of Anthrax drinking with Fushitsusha's Vertigo from their Withdrawe . . . live set.)
A slightly more uptempo The Last One finishes off the record in washed out DESTRUCTO style - both guitars wailing in feedback into the bassy cavern. The bass on this version is actually drowned out - which is good since the bassist flubs some notes here and there. With its long length, its a pleasant enough version / nothing too much special in this particular version except for being LOUD up front thanks to the double guitar attack.
Overall this is a great introduction to the HEAVY style that hangs over the '80s recordings and is a simpatico compilation - the first two tracks (especially An Awful Eternity) are really good with an above average The Last One. 7/10 - PD
Monday, June 13, 2011
Theoretically, this is from somewhere in Japan in 1972 consisting of Mizutani, a bassist and a drummer (if you hear another guitar let me know).
A heavily un-documented period of Rallizes, this was described to me as having a heavy Hawkwind vibe when i first got it - dont know about that so much - dont think Mizutani was jamming that inbetween Vincebus Eruption and White Light/White Heat but who really knows.
If i had a economy of words to describe this recording it would be DRUNK - what was the bassist drinking that night (Absinthe?)- i want some. This is a patchy affair that ranks highly for some outrageous raging parts and just turgidly for the turgid parts as would be expected. First and foremost the sound of this audience recorded wonder - BASSFULL - I think this one beats out a lot of Rallizes recording for pure bass levels overtaking everything except the drums, which for once are also up front and center - Les Rallizes Dubnudes anyone? So instead of an onslaught of electric guitar screech, ye have the heavy rhythm version of sounds pounded out into your inner psyche with the guitar fighting to break through the mud walls.
This show stumbles in with reckless abandon out of the gates with Field of Artificial Flowers - a flower in the cap of the Rallizes songbook- and a great disoriented high energy version of it - hard driving rock riffage phase-shifted into the galaxy with flubbed bass notes filling the spatial voids as the drums pound pound pound away. It sounds like a wild pack of dogs assaulting a tree made of steel with Mizutani shouting the charge. Lets say this is after 4 beers for the bassist.
A quick tape flip blurt and we have an even drunker sounding Unknown song (although the bass line is from something - anyone?)- more missed bass notes in this ballad as it rolls turgidly along - a tape flip in the middle eases us into a short feedback blurt to round the song out - sounds like after 8 beers to me.
Another quick tape flip into feedback until White Awakening comes balladering in - drums front and center - a perfectly nice version until the feedbacker guitar shrieks in with some tastefull post-Lou soloing. Minor chord progression stumble along with the bass until he just falls down or something - i mean playing ballads on bass - cmon, keep it together - sounds like 12 beers.
A minor guitar tuning and tape flip and WAZAAM - apparently some amphetamine was available and just lookout - that bassist is all of a sudden the nastiest, most malevolent high energy bassist on earth - launching into Fantastique which is some rama lama cross between Black To Comm and Smoking Cigarette Blues, bass notes throbbing with the drums reaching maximum velocity (beating the crap out of them like he MEANS it) as the guitar leaves the earthly realm coated in white noise and phased distortion - the kind of freak out track that rarely escapes from Mizutani and company - the multiple tape garbles only show us the fastest rate to which their throb accelerated during the improvisation. It builds and builds and builds and builds until all matter had been used up - which prompts a blurting false start of . . .
Flames of Ice which then descends, slowing down even more to a Parson Sound like pace for the HEAVIEST version of this song - seriously heavier than a bag of buildings. Its all Sabbath dub bass with a guitar trying to pierce its veil from 400 yards away - an evil raga slower than molasses. Mizutani is even singing in tune to please the ancestors he is breaking the earth open to communicate to. Definitely a top version of this song from all of Rallizes recordings - tape cuts and all.
Another blurt squirt tape flip cuts the song straight into a lively The Last One - that fat heavy bass is still there but the whole thing turgidly poops out towards the end - a great industrial stone turns into playdoh as bass notes are missed perpetually (guess it was time for 10 more beers) and then right in the middle it cuts out. Zip - done. 30 Min. of Rallizes vintage 1972 destruction.
Overall its a fun listen with all the tape glitches/flips/blurts making it like a mixtape of the best moments of raging hormone side of the group and their apparent drunken turgidity (for balance, y'know) - It would be nice if some enterprising fellows would release some other earlier period work for context, but really when its as good as that Fantastique and version of Flames of Ice, i dont need too much more evidence - 6/10 - PD
Disc 2: Strong Out Deeper Than The Night / The Night Collectors / The Last One
Here we begin with the alpha and omega of the Rallizes Universe - my (and probably your) first introduction to the band - rightly considered their white hot masterpiece of synapse exploding destructo-rock - recorded almost 10 years into their anti-career.
This 2-cd album is a bootleg of their original '77 live 2cd set that was self-released in 1991. The band on this release is Takeshi Mizutani - Lead Guitar/Vocals, Nakamura Takeshi - Rhythm Guitar, Hiroshi Nar - Bass, and Mimaki Toshirou - Drums.
Here their career template of Velvety-chord junk ballads paired with the screaming onslaught of pure white noise rockers and dirges is laid out and what a magnificent combo platter it is - the passion with the violence as Brotzmann would say - the heated blown out rock leads following monolithic bass lines as a yelping ancestor moans from beyond the feedback, reminding the drummer down the hall that time needs to still be kept in this vortex.
The sonics of this record define the band as much as the playing does - hissing, white hot treble in a reverberated world of echo and icy cool bassline bottoms with drums keeping a simple beat. Amplifier hum is a not-so-secret band member playing at 11 in the background at all times. The bass in every song is left as a whale-sized hooked anchor within the composition, driving the racecar in the rockers, tapping the mainline for the ballads, providing the monolithic repetition that carries us under into their IN THE RED domain.
Songs performed by Rallizes are performed in a very singular way - they almost have more to do with jazz composition sometimes due to their open ended interpretation for improvisation within the song - really any Rallizes song can go for 4 min to 400 minutes if needed - there is an overall sense of LOOOSENESS that surrounds them, which speaks not to their talents as players, but as an ideological viewpoint of letting the song be a repository of energy for that particular performance. As they had a bad allergy to studios for some reason, its a incredible that they were able to have such variety performance-wise to express something different each time while working within a somewhat small palette.
(It is important to remember that Rallizes are a sonic OVERLOAD of a band - there energy is a lot to deal with sometimes - although they never play incredibly fast the sheer DENSITY of their sound can be energizing or taxing depending on your mood - just a heads up)
Enter the Mirror starts this off, wake and baking itself in Velvets chords until Mizutani's guitar becomes functional enough to join the ballad (a smacked out Heroin Being Your Mirror), following the sparse rhythm work with his lyrical leads, weaving lines between singing until the tension builds to a truly explosive end solo that hundreds of guitarists wish they had the psychic stamina to produce - hearing it for the first time burned an indelible mark and perhaps defines in my addled brain THE sound of his guitar playing for all future comparisons.
(Note: Mizutani is a unique psychic warrior guitarist - using only his hands (nope, no picks) to project an unruly beauty of ascension and destruction at the same time within the heat of the electricity. A man with truly superhuman spinal fluid unleashing his leads without care of the fabrics of time he is melting - succeeding as the true apprentice to Lou Reed's unholy I HEARD HER CALL MY NAME solos married with a lyrical "somehow hit the right note" ability of young Neal Young - but with a TIMING all his own - heard once, you'll know what i mean.)
Night Of The Assassins gently follows in its mid-tempo march (Little Peggy March that is). This is a key song in Rallizes repertoire, a bouncy rocker that gets played at various tempos throughout their career at almost every set. I wouldnt call it their theme song per say- but its a definitely a "beginners taste" within their songbook - can you take the catchy 50's pop bass bounce (with a massive hook to boot) with the hot noise breakdowns? Ill always say "more please". This is perhaps my favorite (mid-tempo) version with Mizutani giving it a particularly great phase shifted stun solo treatment - its so loud it garbles the tape at some point about 2/3rds through (a reoccurring value within the set)- and ends in a great clipping wall of noise (kinda like John Cale's LOOP flexi from the VU era).
Quick tape flip/smash/blurt and the monolithic mound of Flames Of Ice sets the speakers into a pulsing white haze - here is one version of how Rallizes "rocks" - up tempo circular repeat-o bass iceberg set on fire with atonal gasoline guitar blare with (finally) audible caveman drum pounce that Mizutani only vocally interjects occasionally to deliver his words of reckoning into the echo vision circling your ears. A truly SWIRLING head space in this one - instruments fighting each other within the mix until everything implodes in screeching feedback.
Blurt/tape splice and we begin the climbing beauty of A Memory is Far (aka Distant Memories) - Nar's beautiful climbing bass pattern following perhaps Mizutani's best ballad singing in the set (certainly his loudest for some reason in the mix - Mizutani's vocals are perhaps the point of argument most of the time in regards to listenability for some people, although i have no problem with his austere off kilter dead pan paeans, I can see their difficulty to some ears - power through it folks, itll hit you right eventually). Mizutani takes some beautiful leads within the song, but this is mainly a vehicle for his poetry (although i have no idea what he is saying) - you can just hear the LONGING in his voice. Every instrument at this point has maxed out of reverb for some reason lending it a special WASHED quality as the ballad drifts off into the island ether.
Switch the cd's - take a 5 minute breather for the next set or don't ( am i wrong to assume this is two sets from that night? - at least in my head it is considering the length of this record - thats one hell of a long single set considering 1977).
Sexy slinky Strong Out Deeper Than the Night begins and builds in creepy crawly intensity to its vocal hooks and guitar meltdowns - the bass diligently walking in psychic sound circles only to get sucker-punched and have to immediately recover. There is a real sense of BOTH guitars letting loose during the solos into a molten feedbacker glory that finally appears on this particular jam - almost cutting out the recording completely at certain points until it melts out indefinitely.
Building drums pound out the intro to The Night Collectors - a relatively rare straight up rocker in the Rallizes canon (and a rarely performed one at that), an almost 4/4 rock out with drums leading the charge for once (kind of like a really disoriented Hawkwind caught in a feedback tunnel) as Mizutani lets the echo guitar go into atonal flight until a nasty bass jam brings it up to White Light/White Heat-like coda frenzy freak out of electronic malevolence (think Sharrock jamming with Mo Tucker) until energy is imploded - (a personal fave song i wished they jammed more at concerts).
Duh duh duh - duh duh, DUH, da de dum- The Last One - THAT riff - a dirge to swallow New Orleans whole - sonic absolution. The traditional set closer in the Rallizes songbook for some reason. One descending guitar/bass unison riff decayed until the out of tune guitars consume the entire recording around you in the white light of electricity caught in the smoke of melted speaker wires. Mizutani extols through you his words until he decides to just say it with the currents in his fingers. The tape loses volume and garbles at various points in the song which makes you think that the air was temporarily imploded in Tachikawa that night - the jam falls into static half way through as the amplifier hum takes a mighty solo before beckoning the feedback to feast on itself and reverberate into silence.
The overload, the energy, the beauty, passion, longing and violence. Les Rallizes Denudes taped a particularly amazing live show and released it 14 years later to little fanfare and many years after that it stands as a true visionary example of heavy central nervous system energy music.
Go buy it at a local record shop or Forced Exposure - 10/10 - PD
Sunday, June 12, 2011
The reviews will be in no chronological order but cover their entire output that I have listened to.
By no means will this be definitive, but at least its an attempt to cover the sounds/songs/jams/mystic that defines the band.
If you have reviews for the records covered, please email them to
rallizes (dot) reviews (at) gmail (dot) com - I will post them within the blog posts for added opinions/viewpoints.