Friday, November 4, 2011

V/A - Process of Evolution vol. 2 LP (198?)

Side A

ECCE HOMO - Bara no Kouzui [薔薇の洪水]
in dutch - (Untitled)
PHANTASMA - 7th Month
SCULLA - Librate
KAWAI, MAL DUO [KAWAI, MAL デュオ] - "Hanashi" ["話"]
THESE [テーゼ] - International Frustration [インターナショナル · フラストレーション]

Side B

THE LOCKS - Powerless Firmness
NACHI - (Untitled)
KORA! [コラ!] - "Nekame Sake" ["ねかめ酒"]
NOIZY-ONE - Love Call
HI, BRITS - Beat Panic
CHEROBEKKU WAIRUDO - Natsu no Mori [の森]

Released: 198?
Label: POE Record
Catalogue number: POE 28198802
Format: LP

Lenght: 45:25
Bitrate: 320 kbps

All right, here we have the elusive second volume of the "Process of Evolution" series.
Seldom heard or seen for sale, the mere existene of this LP caught at least me off guard since I always believed that the first "Process of Evolution" record belonged to the ambitious ranks of projects like "Hiromi's Party" and "Secret Chaos" whose sequels sadly failed to materialize.

Up to par with the rarity of the record is the obscurity of the bands contained within. Honestly - how many of these groups have you ever even heard of before? Yeah, me neither. I was kinda sorta vaguely familar with two of 'em before I got this record about a year ago. These days, after diligent (ha!) research, I'm kinda sorta vaguely familiar with two more. As far as I'm aware, most of these bands (the exceptions being ECCE HOMO, SCULLA, THESE, NACHI ...maybe THE LOCKS?) didn't have any releases of their own and weren't featured elsewhere than on this compilation. With most of them also being ungoogleable (that's about as diligent as I am in my research), information is even scarcer than usual for this post.

One outfit I'd particularly love to learn more (or anything!) about is PICTURES OF MIRROR. Not only due to their cool name, but also because the track they submitted to this release happens to be the best shit ever. "Lasting Brain" is to me Japanese goth perfection - evocative, borderline theatrical vocals, cold as ice guitar moves and more than a hint of DIY-ness. Wow! A word also has to said about the clever composition - PICTURES OF MIRROR shuns the usual riff-verse-refrain structure and instead goes ahead for a lenghty buildup leading to a magnificent crescendo. Dem doubled vocals!

CLUB VALENTINE's contribution is also in the darker vein, but with a more aggressive approach than PICTURE OF MIRROR's desolate doomsday vibes. Their untitled track presented here is nice enough with it's processed guitars and slightly distorted vocals, but frankly I find it a bit unremarkable compared to the songs it's sandwiched inbetween.

Slightly less mysterious than the above two is ECCE HOMO, whose main claim to fame is being featured not only on this omnibus but also on another one! The "Blue Turns to Grey" LP on Sakura Records to be more precise. Their tracks on that record are in a more brooding and sombre spirit, while they produce a more ethereal and serene effort for this album. Very nice stuff - the surprising compositional quirks coupled with operatic vocals, glistening guitars and an overall lofty atmosphere gives the song an almost dreamlike quality. I'd think this would certainly appeal to fans of groups like STILL or SPIN.

Following ECCE HOMO is in dutch - a noisy trio presenting us with a lumbering, instrument-bashing improvisation. Pretty nice, but I'd regard it as mostly a transitional track giving way to "7th Month" by PHANTASMA - a wonderfully buoyant whisk of airy powerpop. Absolutely fantastic stuff!

Now, as impressive as ECCE HOMO's feat of actually appearing elsewhere than on "Process of Evolution vol. 2" is ...believe it or not - the next group has them beat! Without a doubt the most prolific band of the bunch, SCULLA were driven enough to not only be featured on at least three other compilations, but they also released a record of their very own - a self-titled 7" on Conneca Records (the same label who put out the ANTENA flexi).

Next up is another more or less transitional track - a drum and sax improvisation by a probably equally improvised duo consisting of our pal MAL and a drummer called KAWAI. Kinda standard avant-garde stuff, but with some exciting parts for sure (mainly stemming from MAL's saxophone) ...the brunt of the tune is barely audible though. Arty-farty pretentiousness or a welcome breather? Still on the fence myself.

Breaking the almost-silence is "International Frustration" by THESE - a radical left-wing band who self-released a couple of flexis during the late 80:s/early 90:s and collaborated with none other than Keiji Haino on a quite sought-after cassette release. I bought their debut flexi a while ago and was let down by the flaccid post-Zuno Keisatsu moves contained therein. On this record, THESE absolutely shreds though. Punk-ish and catchy, with a certain new wave edge, the best thing about "International Frustration" may nevertheless be something that we're not exactly spoiled with here over at HABIT OF SEX - a killer organ solo!

Well then, after a perhaps somewhat uneven A-side we turn with trembling hands to the B-side to see what kinds of treasures may lie therein...

"MAL, I am dissappoint."

The two sides of "Process of Evolution vol. 2" are subdivided into an "In"-side and an "Out"-side. The former is referring to the material reviewed above, which I can only equate to catering to some sort of an "In"-crowd (i.e. retarded music nerd shut-ins, like you and me) while the latter is of a more outgoing character - music to possibly be enjoyed live in the squalor of a smoky, run down bar with a substantial amount of alcohol in ones system. That said, I've listened to "Process of Evolution vol. 2" several times both sober and runk and have had a real hard time extracting much enjoyment out of the B-side regardless.

Yes, unfortunately the flipside of this compilation is more or less a straightaway trip to assburn city, at least for this very humble reviewer. While some tracks may be deemed passable though some incidental effect (the nice delay on the guitars of THE LOCKS, the freaky saxophone solo of KORA!), most of the B-side is comprised on tear-inducing tepidness. I just cannot deal with stuff like the emotionless, formulaic hard rock of NOIZY-ONE or the embarassingly sentimental kiss-off track by CHEROBEKKU WAIRUDO. HI, BRITS neatly named "Beat Panic" is just ridiculous - is it just me or is dude actually singing "derp di derp" at ~00:40? As if that unintentional tribute to South Park isn't enough, the refrain is evocative enough of a certain performance by Krusty the Clown...

The one gem floating around in this languid slush of Rock 'n' Roll sludge is the untitled contribution by NACHI. Known (?) from her collaboration with BLACK TANZ on their debut EP, NACHI's take here is reminiscent of AMARYLLIS experimental classic "Oto-san" in it's fractured composition, with it's disembodied stabs of synthesized bass and generally unsettling splintered feel.

Frustratingly uneven compilation as it may be, with it's dizzying highs and terrifying lows, I'd say "Process of Evolution vol. 2" is nevertheless a worthwhile listen, if perhaps not utterly essential. Save for the cuts by PICTURES OF MIRROR, ECCE HOMO and PHANTASMA - those are fucking essential!

Anyway, I hope you'll enjoy!

Re-uploaded 06/11/2011


Anonymous said...

I keep getting an "unavailable" error message from Megaupload for some reason...

nattliga_toner said...

Hm, that's weird. It worked a while ago but now I'm getting the same error message.

If it hasn't cleared up by tomorrow, I'll reupload.

RickK said...

I got that message too. But I got it now. thank you gor these 2 rarities

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