Saturday, December 15, 2012

SCULLA - s/t EP (1989)


Side A

Side B
In Your Current
Phantom of Coast

Tanaka (vocals)
Hattori (guitars, keyboards)
Furusawa (bass)
Itoh (drums)

Released: 1989
Label: Conneca Record
Catalogue number: CON-30002
Format: 7" EP

Bitrate: 320 kbps
Lenght: 12:00

The concluding part to our series of releases pertaining to the "Process of Evolution" compilations is this EP by goth band SCULLA. This was released in 1989 on the Conneca Label - the female-owned label which put out stuff like the BARDO THÖDOL 12" and the ANTENA flexi posted earlier.

This was the only ever solo release by SCULLA. Otherwise they appeared on a couple of compilations; namely the "Process of Evolution vol. 2" LP, the "Only You Collection" cassette (also on Conneca) and finally on the "Kiss xxxx" CD (a sort of soundtrack CD made for Maki Kusumotos manga of the same name. Maki Kusumoto also drew the cover illustrations for ZI:KILLs "Close Dance" album and GILLES DE RAIS first full-lenght "殺意"). SCULLA also released an incredibly rare split cassette demo with BARDO THÖDOL.

While some of their work (such as "Librate" from "Process of Evolution vol. 2" and their song on "Only You Collection") are centered around a rapid, pulsating sequence of either guitar or synthesizer; the tracks on this EP are of a more menacing and sluggish nature. "Ashamed" on the A-side starts out with a sombre guitar riff and slowly builds on with a rhythm section teeming with lumbering loom, with some piano thrown in for extra dramatic measure. "Ashamed" is crowned by it's lyrics, sung completely in english in vocalist Tanakas trademark ultra-angsty way.

The short, spacy and ominous instrumental interlude "In Your Current" follows on the B-side, and then lets way for the second proper track on this release - "Phantom of Coast". Being sort of reminiscent to "Ashamed" in it's instrumentation and construction; "Phantom of Coast" is somehow both more aggressive and more subtle than it's flipside companion. While none of the songs really do have a clear-cut chorus (another SCULLA trademark), the obtuseness of "Phantom of Coast" may put it in the backseat upon initial contact; but repeated listenings have, at least for me, made it clear that it may be one of SCULLA's finest moments.

Monday, December 10, 2012

SURREALISTIC MEN - Kakuseiki EP (1986)


Side A
"Kakuseiki" ["覚醒期"]

Side B

Documentary Fiction

Yoshiro Iwashima (vocals)
Shōichi Tomomori (guitar, synthesizer)
Masato Takashiba (bass)
Hideki Hasegawa (drums)

Released: 1986
Label: Vital Plant Ltd.
Catalogue number: VPL-10121
Format: 7" EP

Bitrate: 320 kbps
Lenght: 12:31

This is the first of two entries aimed to showcase the talents of some of the few bands featured on the "Process of Evolution" series of compilations that actually released anything apart from their contribution on said compilations.

"'Kakuseiki'" is the first EP of SURREALISTIC MEN and was the third released of the Vital Plant Ltd. imprint - a short-lived subsidiary of Explosion Records which focused on the Japanese goth scene of the time. The rest of their meagre (quantity wise) but interesting output included the GARA 8" and ZOA:s debut 12". Apart from releasing this EP and appearing on the first "Process of Evolution" album, SURREALISTIC MEN also put out a self-titled flexi and also had a track on the "Only You Collection" cassette on Conneca Records, alongside greats such as LIBIDO, BARDO THÖDOL and ARLEQUIN (as well as the BARDO THÖDOL side-project CASE OF CYTHEREA).

Focusing on this EP, "Kakuseiki" stars off with the awesome title track, with it's sharp, rotorblade guitar riff and pulsating rhythm section makes for a really impressive goth/post-punk anthem. No idea why the track title is in quotation marks, but that's the way it appears on the sleeve.

The next two tracks are of a somewhat lighter character; much sparser in texture and employing a far more airy and spacy guitar sound. Both tracks are quite good, but "Dark" in particular stands out due to it's clever usage of an instrumental chorus. In addition, the use of delay pedals on these tracks seem to foreshadow the early visual kei movement which was to rear it's head a couple of years down the line. In fact, the guitarist of EX-ANS, Yukino, was actually a bass player for SURREALISTIC MEN for a short while.

In summary; this is a great EP that I think should be of interest to fans of Japanse goth and post-punk as well as folks into the early visual kei scene. Please enjoy and stay tuned for the second installment of complementary posts to the "Process of Evolution" series.


Friday, November 30, 2012

THE STUCK - Not Dark/Glassy 8" flexi (1987)

Side A
Not Dark

Released: 1987
Label: - 
Catalogue number: -
Format: single-sided 8" flexi

Lenght: 9:22
Bitrate: 320 kbps

The first and only release of THE STUCK, an 8" single-sided red flexi disc released by the band themselves. It seems like THE STUCK were active only for a short while during the late 80:s and then faded into obscurity - the fate of many a band and the source of excitement of many an obsessive collectors (under which banner I suppose I fit).

THE STUCK indulges us with two quite excellent tracks, the first one being the actually quite dark "Not Dark". Tinged by a general sinister aura and a kind of slightly draggish quality, "Not Dark" somewhat reminds me of "In Sight" from NUBILE's debut flexi - ever though THE STUCK delivers in a much slicker fashion. Really a great track ...but the best is still to come!

The definitive pinnacle of THE STUCK's admittedly limited output is without a doubt "Glassy" - a brilliant, shadowy slice of driven post-punk both embracing the austere post-punk ambience and at the same time foreshadowing the emerge of the more decadent visual kei movement of the early nineties. I supposer the nasal (almost whiny) vocals may be an acquired taste, but to my ears they add an absolutely essential charm to this genious song.

Apart from this flexi, THE STUCK also released an alternative recording of "Glassy" on the "Neo?" compilation on the Portrait label, as well as appearing with a live rendition of the same track on the obscure VHS omnibus "psycho vision".

Lastly; a few words about the packaging of this record. First off, even though it's kind of nondescript, I'm really fon dof the front sleeve. Looking assembled on an ancient graphic layout program; the obtuse pattern of leaves (or maybe crumpled paper?) with the band logo makes for an air of both tech-savviness and DIY roughness. Other parts of the sleeves design depicts some sort of weird, exotic ritual which gets at least me thinking of the mud people from the sleeve of THE POP GROUP's amazing "Y" album ....a slight nod to the british post-punk pioneers by THE STUCK maybe?

Anyway - this may not be the most original course as far as Japanese 80:s underground music in concerned; but it is certainly a stury meal and in my opinion quite a succulent one as well. This is definitely a great favorite of mine and I do hope all of you out there will enjoy it as well!


Friday, October 12, 2012

BIZET - Face In A Picture Parade LP (1982)


Side A
Feel a Boy
Mrs. Y Takes A Walk In The Park
I'm Using Things Of Micro
Tell Me
I Make...

Side B
A Man Come Down On Jet
La! La!
First Of The End
Boy's Dream In Scream

Released: 1982
Label: Discomate Records
Catalogue number: DSP-3101
Format: LP

Lenght: 37:12
Bitrate: 320 kbps

Holy shit - an update!

With the frequency of new posts here being little to none, I figure I'd better pull out some serious shit as I finally get around to actually updating.

I was saving this record up to be posted as a christmas treat, but have decided to post it up several months in advance to celebrate this phenomenal blogging comeback. BIZET is yet another one of those bands who seem to have released only one record and then promptly disappear into the mist of history.

BIZET's sound lays perched somewhere between new wave and synth, with some of their tracks being guitar-centric and others revolves around a more electronic core. In that sense BIZET kind of reminds me of EXCENTRIQUE NOIZ even though their sound isn't really that very similar. For some reason I'm also getting some light TAKUMI vibes, although the common denominator is maybe rather the pretty surrealistic lyrics utilized by both (please find a scan of the lyric sheet included for your pleasure).

Now, I was quite hesitant in acquiring this not only because I'd then recently been burned on a couple of promising looking but unfortunately shitty private presses , but the inclusion of a Rolling Stones cover didn't bode well. I decided to pull the trigger anyway, although I was sceptical to the very end - I even remember whispering to myself "please don't be crap, please don't be crap" as I waited for the needle to work it's way past into the first grooves. Not only was "Face In A Picture Parade" not crap, but as it turned out  absolutely awesome!

Packing a punch right from the start is funnily/creepily titled "Feel A Boy", a new wave/synth hybrid masterpiece powered by a simple but haunting synth line and driving bass, with sparks & flares of psychedelic guitar. "Feel A Boy" sets both the bar and mood for this record, with regards to both the
 instrumentation and aura of airy, dreamy melancholia.

Other highlight include the fevered and surreal "Mrs. Y Takes A Walk In The Park", the fast paced synth-telephone madness of "I'm Using Things of Micro", the soaring yet ominous "A Man Come Down On Jet" and so on. In fact, I think this whole album is more or less brilliant from start to finish. I mentioned earlier that I was concerned about the inclusion of a Stones cover ("Tell Me"), but BIZET comes through and deftly dresses the song in an updated and quite compelling arrangement.

The only thing even closely resembling a letdown is "La! La!" which just sounds a too dense and turgid to these ears. I do have to admit that the effects on the vocals sound pretty damn cool. It's also the only song on this record that doesn't end in a fade out which sort of gives the impression of waking up from a dream, seeing as the other tracks could potentially go on for all eternity. Hmm, I realize I might be overanalyzing this  just a wee bit ...but still!

BIZET closes the album with the sturm und drang super-downer "Boy's Dream In Scream". Positively reeking of despair and dread, this track (seemingly about an Young Werther style suicide) is a seriously sombre affair with it's razorblade guitars and chilling synthesizers hissing like leaking canisters of liquid nitrogen in the background. Guess BIZET wanted to have their album end like a farewell to a dear friend - forever!


Saturday, May 12, 2012

DALI SOLI - Tinkle Clink Vox For You!? 8" flexi (1985)


? Side
SoLyDa (Tinkle Clink Mix)

! Side
Da (Mix for You)
Ly (Toys Mix)

Released: 1985
Label: Elecuitel Records
Catalogue number: ER-0201
Format: 8" flexi

Lenght: 9:46
Bitrate: 320 kbps

Even with such monsters as DIASTEREOMER, EARTHLING and YUUKYOU NO TOU having been unearthed, the Japanese minimal synth scene of the 80:s still proves to be as fertile a soil for great unknowns as ever. Randomly springing forth out of nowhere is this enchanting and absolutely brilliant 8" flexi by a group called DALI SOLI.

As I wrote ages ago in the SHINOBU post. I usually wait a while (more like aeons) before putting up newly acquired stuff, as to have a chance to get more acquainted with them and hopefully be able to do some research too. But as with the "Ceramic Love" flexi, this thing came in the mail just the other day and I can't resist sharing this little gem ASAP.

The strangely titled "Tinkle Clink Vox For You!?" is centered around the song on the A-side ("SoLyDa"), with various sections from it being broken down and slightly altered to form the two tracks of the B-side. Starting off really minimalistic with a lenghty section of sombre synth pads coupled with fey vocals and an odd drum machine rhythm, "SoLyDa" goes through a transformation via a somewhat unsettling middle part and emerges on the other side as warmly throbbing synth goodness. This flexi sort of reminds me of the PALE COCOON 7" - not that they're especially alike in sound, but rather that they share the same dreamlike atmosphere. 

And as if the music wasn't enough, the (mildly put) elaborate packaging of this record really pushes this into full-on brainmelt territories. I mean, just how many record sleeves come with little mesh bowties?

Starting off the excessive design is the printed (silkscreened?) outer bag.

The actual sleeve. 
Guess these guys took the term "record jacket" pretty literally.

On the flipside, we find our pals "Golmo"...

...and "Sinandij" on this little spinning wheel thingamajig.

The inner sleeve...

...and the whole shebang. I wonder how many of these were 
made, seeing as they must've been a pain in the ass to assemble.

There's some background noise on this that I just couldn't get rid off, but I hope you'll all find it enjoyable anyhow.

Friday, April 13, 2012

HYONE [ヒョソエ] - Pokbar 1 Chojeon [폭발1초전 ] CD (199?)


1. 심오야
2. 울릉도트위스트
3. 키다리미스터김
4. 목석같은사나이
5. 노란 샤쓰의 사나이
6. 닐리리 맘보
7. 올산큰애기
8. 빗속의여인
9. 커피한잔
10. 날보러와
11. 아! 대한민
12. 윌남에서 돌아온 김상사
13. 님은 믄곳에
14. 오솔길을 따라사
15. 나는 너를
16. 싫
17. 아름다운강산
18. 비에젖은비둘기
19. 그대여변치마오
20. 노럐하는곳에
21. 잘있어요
22. 충북찬가

Released: 199?
Label: TGR (distributed by P-Vine)
Catalogue number(s): CMCD-1004 / PCD-3452
Format: CD

Bitrate: 320 kbps

Even though the main focus of this blog lies on obscure Japanese underground vinyl releases of the 80:s, we will make an exception for this exceptional CD. Probably released sometime during the mid-90:s and then later slightly repackaged and distributed for a Japanese market of music fiends and freaks – I myself and my friend and colleague Loser Knife (the man behind the wonderful A Softly Sleeping Rose blog) are cautiously proud to bring to you, dear readers, the Korean monstrosity that is HYONE (written either in katakana as ヒョソエ or in hangul as 현아. Forthis review, we’ve chosen the katakana way of writing the name as to avoid confusing this chugging chaos with a certain popular K-pop star).

Loser Knife = bold text
nattliga_toner = italics

폭발1초전 is, for lack of a better word, quite a trip. It's complete disregard for all things conventional is something that is at once arresting and off putting. The grand scale of the album is one of the major factors that make this album a daunting piece of music; the tempo for almost every single song is exactly the same. I find myself constantly checking my music player to make sure I haven't lost track of which song I've just finished and which song I have just begun. What's worse is that it often is nearly impossible to tell when a song has ended; there is no chorus/verse/chorus theme going on here, and the beginnings and endings are almost meaningless, as if HYONE/ ヒョソエ was completely unaware of those sorts of norms when he/she was recording it. In fact, it's almost comical to me to include any separation of tracks; to me it seems like HYONE/ ヒョソエ simply clipped the song up later on, and then randomly assigned titles.

It's like strange little jingles floating into each other - sometimes (but not always) separated by strange synthethic percussion and HYONE's excited yelps and grunts. The sheer massiveness and relentlessness of the whole thing is quite mind-boggling.

So, the album is certainly not something to just sit down with and go "okay, I'm in the mood for this song right now . . . "; the whole thing should be heard as a whole. While I have indeed sat down with this document on the deeper crevices of madness and rainbow colored depravity quite a few times, I would perhaps warn any new listeners against that, if only to protect their sanity.

This thing is like an inverted take on the 2001 monolith - a gargantuan slab of brainscrambling madness which grants whoever that comes into contact with it the gift of STUPID! To top it off; seeing as most of the songs blend into each other so seamlessly, I get the impression that at least large chunks of this were recorded in one take. Which is surely as bizarre a feat as they come.

This album absolutely gives the crazed warbling of the likes of 人生 or Picky Picnic a run for their money. Actually . . . I'm inclined to say that this album tops any albums by those bands simply because I don't believe the lunatic that recorded this album INTENDED to make it insane. I'm sure he/she wanted it to be at least a little weird but there does still seem to be some sort of debased sincerity present here.

I'm not even sure he wanted it to be weird at all. If I were to use any word or phrase to describe HYONE's music, apart from "insane" and "endurance test", I would say "heartfelt". To my ears, the music presented is 100% blood and tears genuine heartfelt emotion - albeit presented in a truly odd way.

I used to frequent this thai restaurant which apart from such charms as cheap beer, excellent food and (at times) wonderfully atonal karaoke, were also haunted by this utterly bizarre huge (both in regards to height and width) dude who prior to intaking a meal would pour huge quantities of soy sauce over the free shrimp chips served out of a wicker basket as a starter. With the soy spilling out of the basket onto the table and floor he'd relish these outlandish snacks while waiting for his main course. I'm not really sure what I'm getting at with this little story, but the weirdness experienced is about on par with the aural outlandishness provided by HYONE.

HYONE/ヒョソエ almost sounds like he/she's performing over a karaoke machine, due to the unchanging beat of the drum machine, and the very slight changes in the keyboard rhythms. The echo of his/her voice certainly guarantees that he/she was working with very low quality equipment here. I imagine this was recorded in a basement somewhere in South Korea, with very minimal and very cheep recording instruments (perhaps a solitary tape recorder, positioned close by his keyboard and mic). I see him/her dancing and working up a sweat, wearing baggy shorts and a brightly colored undershirt while he/she puts all of his/her soul into what would become this album.

The weirdness isn't even constrained to the music either, but also bleeds out into the packaging as well. The phenomenally unexceptional cover art aside, we're also faced with such quaint irregularities such as double catalogue numbers and a non-existant 22:nd track listed on the back. This also came with an obi in Japanese rather than Korean - I'm pretty sure this is because a Japanese label (a rumour suggests P-Vine) imported original copies of the Korean CD and repackaged them (ie. added an obi) for a domestic audience.

While I most certainly can't point out a favorite song, I could point out a favorite section on this album. That would have to be from track eight to track fifteen (where he/she begins to use the deeper sounding keys on his/her keyboard, giving the songs a much thicker and deeper sound).

In my opinion the two final tracks are the ones worthy of special notice. Clearly recorded separately from the rest of the album, it is here that the otherwordly strangeness of HYONE truly reveals itself. Even though they follow the same basic formula as the rest of the CD, HYONE's excited vibrato turns into a weird distorted warble, pushing this even further out into the Twilight Zone. Truly alien music.

I've been told that the music of HYONE belongs to a Korean genre called pon-chack. An inherently quite peculiar genre, pon-chack supposedly got it's start when cheap keyboards went publicly availiable in Korea sometime during the early nineties. In a sense I guess it's akin to the impact the WASP synthesizer had on UK post-punk, synth and power electronics in the eighties, except we're talking about dinky casio setups here rather than relatively sophisticated synthesizers. From what samples of it I've heard, pon-chack (sometimes called techno-trot, if I'm not mistaken) is a pretty freaky genre all of it's own, but I still think that HYONE ekes out a truly singular detour all of his/her's own.

To summarize, I find myself enthralled, disturbed, awed, and most of all confused by this album. To quote the great film critic Roger Ebert (in his review of Dusan Makavejev opus, Sweet Movie . . . actually, if I was to make a comparison between this album and a film I would most certainly choose Sweet Movie to compare it to; both are sickly saccharine and yet so grossly bizarre that they defy proper understandings of art): "And if you find this review unsatisfactory, so do I: the [album] defies criticism even while it seems to demand it, and I keep on thinking about it even while I know I'm not getting anywhere."

Thursday, February 9, 2012

LIGHT AND SHADE - Trial Product CD (1991)

01. S·M·D
02. Hyper
03. Life
04. Plastic
05. Heaven

Hara / Tohru Hara (vocals)
Funaba / Shigeru Funaba (guitar)
Die-Go / Daigo Mikami (bass)
Yuki / Katsuyuki Akai (drums)

Released: 1991
Label: Zazzle Records
Catalogue number: UKZZ-1028
Format: CD

Lenght: 27:27
Bitrate: 320 kbps

As an astute friend and old-time reader pointed out - there's been a hella lack of visual kei material posted since the restart of of this blog. When I first started HABIT OF SEX back in 2007 (holy!), oldschool visual kei was the prime focus, but as my taste either progressed or regressed as time went by, so did the contents of this blog. And considering some of the later posts, god only knows where we're heading towards in the future:

But for now, it's time to remedy the VK situation and to do so I bring you the sole release by a band called LIGHT & SHADE and their "Trial Product" mini-album released in 1991 on Zazzle Records. The band also appeared on the Zazzle compilation "Operation Z" together with VISION 99 (which you might recognize from the "Tokyo Dead Line" LP) as well as labelmates THE OTHERSIDE and the great VELVET ENDROIT. In addition, LIGHT & SHADE's singer Tohru Hara was the first vocalist of none other than EX-ANS. An unverified rumour has it that there exists a bootleg EX-ANS cassette with tracks being sung by Hara rather than later vocalist Koji Suzuki (a.k.a. RAY).

As for the label, Zazzle Records was, as far as I've understood, the VK and VK-ish metal subdivision of the rather large independent label (and distributor?) UK Project. In my mind, Zazzle carved out a small little niche of their own in the budding VK genre, infusing a certain something in the bands they released that put them slightly apart from the rest of the early 90:s VK scene. Exactly what constitutes this something is kind of hard to define, but nevertheless I think it is aptly displayed by just LIGHT & SHADE (as well as their sort of kindred spirits VELVET ENDROIT).

For those of you familiar with VELVET ENDROIT's awesome "Dogmatism" CD, you'll notice that there are some striking similarities between it and "Trial Product". Both albums start out with a shorter song featuring electronic drums ...not to mention that both tracks have very similar titles (ENDROIT's "S·A·D" and "S·M·D" by LIGHT & SHADE). A faster, more straightforward song follows on both albums ("No Life" and "Hyper", respectively) and both groups round off their releases with a lengthier tune with psychedelic overtones. Homage or plagiarism? Who knows ...and who cares!? Not only does the two bands and their respective records rock - both of the groups manages to carve out an identity of their own, despite the similarities.

I'm not sure I have very much more to expound on in regards to "Trial Product"; the music on it has plenty to say all on it's own. Suffice to say it's a great little (by the way, is it just me or isn't mini-albums the best format by far for VK releases?) slice of new wave-tinged visual kei. All tracks are good, but were I to choose favorites, I'd nominate "Hyper" and "Heaven" - the first for its hard, driving pace and tense verses loosening up into a paradoxically subtle yet orgiastic refrain, and the second for it's feather light air of blissful melancholy. Fuck yeah I'mma kiss you in heaven!

Even though I'm still a big fan of the (early) visual kei genre, I fear that this blog will continue to veer rather in the direction of even more 80:s stuff in the new wave/synth/post-punk vein well as other horrors. Nevertheless, VK posts will still pop up occasionally. In the meantime, I'll be contributing stuff to the eminent Evil~en~Lucifer blog - THE go-to place for ALL your VK needs. Check it out if you haven't already.

Finally, a belated welcome to 2012 to all my readers. I hope you'll stick around as I believe I have some truly ridiculous awesome stuff for you in store.

Divshare / Mediafire

Best dressed in VK 1991.

PS. The correct name for this band is of course "LIGHT & SHADE" rather than "LIGHT AND SHADE". For some reason Blogspot wouldn't allow me to use the & sign in the title field. My apologies for any confusion.