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