Monday, August 22, 2011

Les Rallizes Denudes - '67 - '69 Studio Et Live

Smokin' Cigarette Blues  / Otherwise My Conviction / Les Bulles De Savon / Memory is Far / Cry of Bird / Otherwise My Conviction (2nd Version) / The Last One (live) / Untitled

(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:

All the kids know now about them - Les Rallizes Denudes is big business for labels such Phoenix and Univive and Ugnuitas.

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

Les Rallizes Denudes - Laid Down '76 Again

Disc 1: Memory is Far / Improvisation / Dream / Field of Artificial Flowers / Night of The Assassins / Strong Out Deeper Than The Night / Improvisation #2 / The Last One

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:

Improv #1
Improv 2
The Last One)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Les Rallizes Denudes - Live 1973

Disc 1: Field of Artificial Flowers / The Last One / Night Of The Assassins / Fleld of Artificial Flowers (Take 2)

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

Les Rallizes Denudes - Cable Hogue Soundtrack

Disc 1: Night Of The Assassins / Otherwise, Fallin' in Love With . . . / White Awakening / Flames of Ice + The Last One / The Last One

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:

Disc 1:
Night of the Assassins (Version 2)
Otherwsie Fallin in Love With . . . 
Flames of Ice / The Last One (Version 1)

Disc 2:
Feeling High
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

Les Rallizes Denudes - Blind Baby Has Its Mothers Eyes

Blind Baby Has Its Mothers Eyes (aka Flames of Ice)/An Awful Eternity/The Last One

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

Les Rallizes Denudes - Live 1972

Field of Artificial Flowers/Unknown/White Awakening/Fantastique/Flames of Ice/ The Last One

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

Les Rallizes Denudes - Le 12 Mars 1977 A Tachikawa (aka '77 Live)

Disc 1: Enter The Mirror/Night Of The Assassins/Flames Of Ice/ A Memory Is Far

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


This is an attempt to go through and review the massive discography of Les Rallizes Denudes (1968-1996) -  slowly but steadily.

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.

Best, PD