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