L - Holy Letters (1992)

L is (was) a project of Hiroyuki Usui (臼井弘行), who in some very distant past used to drum for 不失者 (Fushitsusha), although I don't think there's any recordings with him on it. He was also in some very early incarnations of Ghost, 兇悪のインテンション (Kyōaku no Intention) and Marble Sheep, apparently, but again I can't find any albums featuring Usui. Later he popped up in Landfall (whom I don't know anything about) and Ken'ichi Takeda (竹田賢一)'s political 'anti-pop' group A-Musik. The first tangible trace of his art that I'm aware of is this lost little gem, 'Holy Letters', which was released in 1992 on his own label Holy Castle Records, as an 11-track CD + 7" package. Presumably it didn't do much back then - in fact it wasn't until a decade later, when some copies somehow ended up at Aquarius Records, that this album got noticed, and even got an elegant reissue (with bonus track from the same sessions but without the nice over-sized packaging) on VHF Records (in 2004). New linernotes were provided by Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance), who didn't stop at that but formed a duo with Usui named August Born (their only, untitled CD was released on Drag City in 2005). In 2009 Six Organs released a split-LP with Azul, yet another of Usui's projects (with - among others - Masaaki Motoyama (本山正明), who already played the 'cello on 'Holy Letter') on PSF. Usui also seems to be part of a band called
現代即興 (Gendai Sokkyō, or simply 'contemporary improvisation') these days. So yeah, he seems to know his way around the hip & freaky side of the Japanese underground.
Mention of Fushitsusha, Ghost etc. might have given you the wrong idea though. This is in fact a very relaxed folk album, intimate and moving, featuring gentle bluesy guitar (the opening track is Blind Willie Johnson's 'Cold Was the Ground!'), drones, field recordings, throat singing, didgeridoo... and a surprise guest appearance of Taku Sugimoto (杉本拓) on 'Troll'. An album that I've often returned to over the years, one you can't afford to let slip under your radar. Gorgeous. Buy it without thinking twice, or try it first (and then buy it. Seriously).


  1. I've been wanting to her this - thank you very much!

  2. Hey! Could you re-upload. I really want to check it.

  3. Question: Does your rip include a scan of the reissue liner notes? I have a copy of the Holy Castle CD/7er but would love to read these as well if you could hook me up. Thx...