Thursday, July 29, 2010

Wha-Ha-Ha / Sakata Orchestra split 7" (Better Days Records, 1981)


Side A
Wha-Ha-Ha - Onna De Yokota

Side B
Sakata Orchestra - Wha-Ha-Ha Ondo

This is one of the more obscure records from the art-pop-prog-jazz nutzoid group Wha-Ha-Ha, here backed with Sakata Orchestra, virtually the same band as far as I can tell. Imagine a Picky Picnic with serious chops and you're almost there.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Amaryllis - Oto-san 7" (Amaryllis Records, 1985)


Side A

Side B
Sensei (Sono No Ichi)
Shinya No Dekigoto

How about that cover, eh? This group was from Kyoto, home to an incredible experimental scene in the 80s. Much of this scene is documented in the "Foam" 2LP comp on Ylem records, produced and curated by Kaoru Sato of EP-4 and R.N.A. Organism. Sato's name on a record causes a giant exclamation mark to appear above my head, and you'll know why after hearing this.

I'll come right out and say that this is one of my favorite 7"s ever. 10 minutes of hallucinatory mania starting with "Oto-san" on the A-side, a driving, post-punky track that goes way overboard in every department. The nuttiness is ratcheted up a notch from the get-go on side B, the first track seeming to perpetually be in a state of trying to decide whether it wants to be 33⅓ or 45rpm, with echo-guitar and plink-plonk synths only adding to the dizziness. B2 throws in out-of-the-blue classical samples and a few abused instruments, punctuating vocalist Alice Sailor's surreal wails. Stupefying.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Voice - self-titled 10" EP (Kitchen Records, 198?)


Side A
Betsudo No Nakano Shiawase (Happiness in Bed at Night)
Kiyanbasu No Hiroin (Heroine of the Canvas)

Side B
Tazogawa No Hamabe (Beach of the Dusk)
Maruseiyu (Marseilles)

This tolerable slice of new-wave is mostly interesting for being on the Kitchen Records label, known to "Indies" collectors and blogophiles as the label that released a Variètè flexi and the (Vanity Records related) MLD 7". Unfortunately, the rest of the Kitchen discography is less inspired. Not to say that you shouldn't check this out - just know that this drifts in to some rather cloying, XTC-sounding territory.

I don't recognize any of the band member's names, but I noticed that Keiichi Ohta was responsible for the art direction. Ohta was a member of Guernica with Jun Togawa, and released a great solo album. He's sure to pop up again on this blog...

EDIT: This one is starting to grow on me...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Picky Picnic - Cynical Hysteria World 2x7" (Panic Records, 1986)


Side A
Fanfare / どんぐり行進曲

Side B
It's a Hysterical Place

Side C

Side D
Go Go Twins
(仮) 放課後

This group is often compared to the Residents, but I find their sonic palette to be idiosyncratically Japanese. The kindergarten-prog thing going on here sets them comfortably beside the avant-naïve stylings of their brethren in Wha-Ha-Ha, yet there's just enough of a punk aesthetic there to attach them to German label-mates Der Plan, Pyrolator, and the rest of the Ata Tak crew.

This double 7" EP (I believe it's their final release) sees the usual duo of Kaoru Todoroki and Yuji Asuka teamed up with famed animator/illustrator Kiriko Kubo, probably known best in the states for doing the album art for John Zorn's Cobra. It's a match made in heaven, really. In fact, a few of Kiriko's works have titles very similar to those of Picky Picnic (Cynical Hysterie Hour, Kuru Kuru Cynical), causing me to wonder just how close their relationship was. Sadly, Picky Picnic would disband shortly after this recording for reasons unknown.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Phew - Finale / Urahara 7" (Pass Records, 1980)


Side A
終曲 (Shuukyoku, trans. "Finale")

Side B
うらはら (Urahara, trans. ???)

1st solo recording by Phew (Hiromi Moritani), formerly of no-wave group Aunt Sally, on the essential Pass Records label (PAS-203). Ryuichi Sakamoto, helming the mix, does brilliant work here, especially on the fractured "Urahara", replete with discordant piano, plink-plonk synthwork (reminiscent of his B-2 Unit LP), and Phew's inimitable deadpan chant. No doubt this is what caught the ear of Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit, who would later join her on her follow-up LP.