Kumiko Akiyoshi - s/t (1975)

Kumiko Akiyoshi (秋吉久美子) is a Japanese actress and singer, who released one untitled album in 1975. She was 20 years old at the time, and was starring in pinku films by Toshiya Fujita (藤田敏八, he of the 'Lady Snowblood' series) and in Toshio Matsumoto (松本俊夫)'s 'War at the Age of Sixteen' (十六歳の戦争). According to Wikipedia, she did quite a steamy sex scene (for an actress her age) as late as 2004. Her music however seems to be virtually forgotten these days, which is a shame. She is backed by some able musicians here; I read somewhere that her backing band is none less than Japanese prog band 四人囃子 (Yonin Bayashi), who released their popular debut album 一触即発 ('Isshoku Sokuhatsu', sometimes referred to as 'Volatile') one year earlier, but I'm not sure if that is correct. Either way, this is not a prog album, just an experimental pop album with some odd telephone interludes, children's rhymes about Indians, some enka influences and downright bizarre lyrics, like on the beautiful ballad 天才, which on closer inspection turns out to be about some laughing piano player with a donkey's mouth and parsley in his ears. Either that or my Japanese is even worse than I thought. Anyway, here's the tracklist, with some transliterations and translations (my own attempts, with the usual caveats):

1. 赤い靴 (Akai kutsu) (Red Shoes)
2. しゃぼんだま (Shabondama) (Soap Bubble)
3. 星の流れに (Hoshi no nagare ni)
4. 東京ブルース (Tōkyō blues) (Tokyo Blues)
5. エリカの花散るとき (Erika no hana chiru toki) (When Erika's flowers fall)
6. えんがちょ (Engacho) (this is a kids' phrase used while crossing one's fingers to ward off catching 'dirt' from other kids)
7. おそまつさまでした (Osomatsusama deshita) (when someone offers his guests a meal, they will be polite and say ごちそうさまでした, 'gochisōsama deshita': 'that was a real treat!'. The humble host himself however will sometimes utter this phrase, almost apologizing for the grub he has served. Something like 'I know, that was really rather crappy, sorry about that')
8. 10人のインデアン (Jūnin no Indian)* (10 Indians)
9. フロイト (Freud)
10. 天才 (Tensai) (Genius)
11. 未来への想い出 (Mirai e no omoide) (Memories of the Future)

 * actually it says Indean; maybe a typo for インディアン. 



Michael Bullock / James Coleman / David Gross / Steve Roden - Untitled, Or Not Yet. (2008)

This unusual improv quartet was recorded in February 2003, but wasn't released until 5 years later, on the now defunct or dormant (1.8)sec label. What's unusual about it is the presence of Steve Roden, who is not usually an improv musician, rather a composer of sound art and installation pieces. For this once, he has joined some more hands-on performers onstage: alto saxophonist David Gross, double bassist Michael Bullock and James Coleman on the theremin. Of these, Bullock is probably the most 'famous'; he also dabbles with electronics, and can be spotted in the ranks of ensembles such as The BSC, Mawja and Masashi Harada Condanction Ensemble. Coleman did an album on Sedimental in 2001 ('Zuihitsu'), featuring such esteemed guests as Tatsuya Nakatani and Greg Kelley. I don't know anything about Gross (sorry Gross), but apparently he has played with Lê Quan Ninh, Eddie Prévost and the Nmperign guys over the years. Roden himself plays 'voice, objects, electronics' here. His trademark sounds blend nicely with the careful instrumental explorations of the other guys. This was an edition of 350 copies (now sold out), the CD attached to a piece of cardboard wrapped in 1 of 4 different vellum papers. It didn't make much of a splash at the time, but it's a nice (re)discovery. Check it out.
New link!


John Duncan - Tap Internal (2000)

John Duncan is one of the most extreme people in modern music, and yet he doesn't play in Dark Funeral. What he does do is create unsettling sound art and performances that often deal with the limits of human endurance, with sensory deprivation as well as violence. This is the same guy who shot a blank at a friend's face ('Scare', 1976), showed porno movies to an audience of women and then invited them to enter a back room and abuse him sexually ('For Women Only', 1979), locked himself and 7 other people (one of them an infant) into a dark room, naked and blind, without knowing for how long ('Maze', 1995), and, if rumours are true, had to flee to Japan after having sex with a corpse in Tijuana - and of course making a sound recording of the proceedings ('Blind Date', 1980), all in the name of art. Suddenly Dimmu Borgir don't look so frightening anymore. In recent years he seems to have calmed down a bit, which is probably a good thing.
'Tap Internal', released on Touch but now out of print, is one of his sound-only works, one 46 minute track of cracklings, buzz and rumblings, and somewhere in there, the beating of the human heart (the transparent front cover looks like an X-ray of the chest). More uncomfortable than most, this will probably go down well with people who enjoyed the Courtis & Marhaug album I posted recently.


Flying Edward - Spell Your Name (2004)

When Bogus Blimp broke up in late 2004 ('We died - to live forever'), Norway lost its prime export product in the field of theatrical sci-fi swing noise circus pop. Their first 2 albums (1,5 really), 'Men-Mic' and 'Cords.Wires' are still masterpieces of a genre that no other band in the world ever played, whatever it was (2004's 'Rdtr' had its moments too). While these albums got at least some attention for being on Jester Records and surfing along a bit on Ulver's slipstream, the facts on what the Bogus guys did in later years are clear only to a handful of inner circle people in Oslo, I suppose (does anyone know what happened to their vocalist, Christian Mona?). Ingar Hunskaar went on as a producer under the alias Diktafon. Kyrre Björkås and Hilmar Bergendahl Larsen formed Det är jag som är döden with one Jakob Langvik, and released 'Hey Space!' on Dbut (also 2007), before changing their name to Du (an album entitled 'Risk and Investment' is due next month on Trust Me Records). Det är jag's video for the song '200 hrs' can be seen on YouTube. Kyrre also did that Saralunden.Björkås.Mjös EP (Nexsound, 2007) with vocalist Sara Lundén and Andreas Mjös (Jaga Jazzist, Rotoscope). A bit older, and more obscure even than those albums, though, is the Flying Edward album from 2004. Flying Edward were Hilmar and Jakob, mainly, with a little help from some friends (Aslak Larsen Skalleberg, also ex-Bogus, plays Hammond on 'Pretend', for instance). 'Spell Your Name' is a dark, moody pop album, groovy and narcotic at the same time. It was released in 2004 on Dbut, but is now out of print. The one thing still linking them to Kristoffer Rygg and Ulver, it seems, is a fondness for Kiss: the album features an eerie cover version of 'I Was Made for Lovin' You'.

V/A - Viryavakay - Oh mother, protectress of the forest. Songs and melodies of the Mordva (2001)

The Mordva are the largest Finno-Ugric people in Russia; in other words they are related to Hungarians, Finns and Estonians, not to the Slavic Russians. This compilation on Dutch label Pan Records presents an overview of their traditional music, featuring fiddles, balalaika, accordion and recorder alongside a whole bunch of singing. There are wedding songs, laments, songs about family and history. There is a bunch of information in the booklet, so check out the scans included.
Available once more!


Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson - Ship (2001)

Sigtryggur Berg Sigmarsson is half of the absurdist Icelandic electronica trio (later duo) Stilluppsteypa (a name that apparently refers to 'illegal home butchering', not following the strict regulations the Icelandic government places upon these practices). 'Ship' was his first solo album, a placid masterpiece of minimalist drone. It was released on Bernhard Günter's Trente Oiseaux label, with the following confusing liner notes: 'The Idea for Ship was triggered in Bunker B, which is hidden somewhere in Karlsborg, in the south of Sweden. The red organ was shut down by Leif Elggren and Kent Tankred, to whom this record is dedicated. Hopefully they will find the time to Ship the red organ back to its owner.' Some sources list this as released in 1999, which is weird considering it was recorded and mixed in August-October 2000.
Sigmarsson recorded 3 more solo albums after this one: 'A Long Wait Produced Nothing Further' (ERS, 2001, on vinyl), 'This One Comes Highly Recommended' (FIRE Inc., 2002) and 'A Little Lost' (Bottrop-Boy, 2003).

V/A - Re: Martin Arnold 'Alone, Life Wastes Andy Hardy' (2001)

Martin Arnold is an Austrian film artist working with found footage. His short film 'Alone: Life Wastes Andy Hardy' (1998) consists of scenes from the Andy Hardy film series, a series of films released between 1937-1958 (from 'A Family Affair' to the failed revival attempt 'Andy Hardy Comes Home') and starring Mickey Rooney as the title character. By stretching and looping carefully selected fragments that originally lasted mere seconds, Arnold is trying to highlight hidden Freudian elements in these sentimental, slightly silly works. 'Alone' can be viewed here.
In 2001, the New York-based Apestaartje label (run by the people behind Mountains, Aero and Anderegg, but now defunct) curated a compilation album based on this short film; participating artists were to create tracks with material sourced from its soundtrack. The packaging contains an actual fragment of film (see scans). The tracklist is as follows:
1. Fennesz - Green
2. Anderegg - Fewer Than Six
3. Akira Rabelais - Quyat (whoosht)
4. N/A - Prop Elh Er Con Struct
5. A Silent Partner - Vluv
6. Pimmon - Moment Under the Moment
7. Steve Roden - Maa.lwah
I'm not sure whehter N/A is an actual band/project's name here, or just stands for 'non applicable' - I think the former, since the name also appears on another Apestaartje compilation (with a similarly mutilated track title). Probably, just like A Silent Partner, yet another pseudonym for one of the people behind the label. The rest of the artists featured probably need no introduction.


Anla Courtis & Lasse Marhaug - North and South Neutrino (2004)

The first collaboration between Norwegian noisemaker Lasse Marhaug (of Jazzkammer, etc.) and Argentinian Anla Courtis (of Reynols, as well as the hilariously named L'Autopsie A Révélé Que La Mort Était Due À L'Autopsie) was started as early as 1997, but wasn't finished until 2003. I don't know how intensely they have worked on it in the years between, but this is one finely crafted jewel of noisy musique concrète. Slowly developing extreme frequencies are joined by deep drones and blistering feedback: not a surprising fusion of elements, but when it's done as well as this, and builds so beautifully to its climax, there's no point in arguing.
'North and South Neutrino' was released in January 2004 on a great little Greek label called Antifrost, in a limited edition of 500 copies. The nice artwork is by Leif Elggren, by the way. This duo later did a tape release entitled 'Jordslev Hojaldre' (Quasi Pop, 2007), which I haven't heard yet. They have also released hundreds (probably) of other things, each, in all sorts of combinations, but of what I have heard of the rest of their respective output, nothing comes close to this.

Tha Blue Herb - Mirai wa oira no te ni naka (2003)

Today, a self-released single-CD by an experimental hip hop crew from Sapporo, Japan. 未来は俺等の手の中 is the title; it means: 'The Future Is In Our Hands' (for transliteration, check the title of this blog post). One track, two versions (vocal & instrumental). I don't actually know if this was on any of their full albums. I don't know much about the genre at all, frankly. Just know that this is pretty enjoyable. So check it out.
Scan of the lyric sheet (Japanese/English) included.

Tim Barnes / David Daniell / Jeph Jerman / Sean Meehan - Live 7 22 04 Soundlab, Buffalo NY (2009)

A very delicate, very quiet improv quartet can be heard on this cardboard CD-R release, one of about 10,000 (rough estimate) that Jeph Jerman released himself in the last couple of years. An interesting line-up here, with percussionist Tim Barnes (who has worked with everyone from Mattin to Sonic Youth), guitarist David Daniell (of ambient rock ensemble San Agustin, and a couple of nice solo albums) and Sean Meehan (another percussionist, who has recorded some great albums with Sachiko M and Toshimaru Nakamura, among others). Who's doing what here is anyone's guess (Jerman himself can play anything from stones to wood to electronics to pine cones, depending on the context), but its organic, barely-there fragility certainly has its charms.
Now here (new link).


Junko Ueda - L'épopée des Heike (1990)

Today I would like you to hear a wonderful album of traditional Japanese music. Junko Ueda (上田純子) studied the Satsuma biwa (薩摩琵琶) under Kinshi Tsuruta (鶴田錦史, whose albums on Ocora and King are also highly recommended). She is now herself one of the big names in the genre, and doesn't shy away from more contemporary fare either, as performances of works by John Cage, Toshi Ichiyanagi (一柳慧) and Jean-Claude Éloy confirm. On this French CD release ('The Epic of the Heike'), she sings and strums her way through three chapters of the Heike Monogatari (平家物語), written around 1200. They are:
1. 敦盛 (Atsumori)
2. 那須与一 (Nasu no Yoichi)
3. 大原御幸 (Ōhara-Gokō)
Chilling stuff, this ain't no parsley sage rosemary & thyme. Scans of the English half of the booklet can be found here (sorry for the separate download). Files have been tagged in Japanese.

Eliane Radigue - Jouet Électronique / Elemental I (2010)

After decades of obscurity, Eliane Radigue's pioneering role in drone music has been generally acknowledged for some years now, leading to a number of archival releases. The last two in the row have unfortunately been vinyl-only releases (one of my many pet hates); there was one four-way split 2-LP on Important Records in November (with one piece each by Radigue, Pauline Oliveros, Yoshi Wada and Sun Circle), that contained her 'Biogenesis' (1973) piece, that was released earlier on 3" CD in Metamkine's 'Cinéma pour l'oreille' series (in 1996, to be precise). More interesting is this LP on Alga Marghen, with two short works that have never been released before. The A-side is 'Jouet Électronique' (which translates to 'electronic toy'), the B-side contains 'Elemental I', a first attempt at a piece in four parts, based on the basic elements of air, fire, earth and water. Only in 2001 did she return to this idea with the composition of 'Elemental II', with double bass player Kasper T. Toeplitz (released on ROSA in 2005). These works, made in the late 1960s, aren't her best or most important works, more a collection of juvenilia, mainly of interest to people already familiar with her oeuvre. This LP was limited to 300 copies only; if you hurry you may be able to pick up a copy at some distro.


David Peel / Kan Mikami - Jirokichi Live at Koenji (2004)

This is probably one of the most obscure Kan Mikami albums, and - let's face it - deservedly so. A split album with some guy named David Peel, who, Wikipedia tells me, is an early performer of punk rock music while at the same time appealing mostly to hippies because of his lyrics about marijuana and "bad cops". Apparently they shared a stage at some point (3 December 2003 to be exact) and thought the recordings deserved a CD release. Somehow I think there have been about a 1000 other and better Mikami concerts throughout the decades that went unrecorded or at least unreleased, but such is life. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the Mikami half per se (though there isn't much we haven't heard in a better version elsewhere either), but the Peel half sounds completely retarded to me. I can't figure out what drew these two together. Not essential by any means, but hard to find and probably of interest to Mikami fans, so there you go.
The Mikami tracks are:
1. インバ (Inba)
2. 五百子先生と山羊 (Yuriko-sensei to yagi)
3. 大きい羊は面白い (Ōkii hitsuji wa omoshiroi)
4. ここまで引かれた線 (Koko made hikareta sen)
5. 枝分かれ (Eda wakare)
6. 端雲~楢山節 (Zuiun / Narayama-bushi)
7. 虎をペットにしてる尼 (Tora o petto ni shiteru ama)
8. 黒く,飛ぶ人 (Kuroku, tobu hito)
9. 美術館 (Bijutsukan)

1 to 6 are from 1979 (2003), 7 and 8 are from レスボス ('Lesbos', 2002 PSF), and 9 is from アラシ・雨・アラシ ('Arashi Ame Arashi', 1998), all on PSF. Except for the last track, live versions of all of these can also be found on 異議ナシ!('Igi Nashi', 2005 Open) - maybe something for another blog post here, some day.

The titles of the Peel tracks (10-15) are too idiotic to be mentioned here - check the scans I added (including the lyrics). This was released on Captain Trip Records in 2004.

Hamlet Gonashvili - Hamlet (1995)

Hamlet Gonashvili (ჰამლეტ გონაშვილი, 1928-1985) was a Georgian singer of traditional music. He was often called 'the Voice of Georgia', and is something of a legend in his own country. Giya Kancheli's Third Symphony was inspired by Gonashvili's singing, and he himself sang on its first recording in 1979. He died in 1985, at the height of his fame, as the result of a fall from an apple tree. This is a collection of his best songs, released in 1995 on Jaro. They sound amazingly beautiful and sad. Here is a tracklist with some notes, as taken from the booklet (except the titles in Georgian alphabet of course, but let's not start another rant about 'world music' and xenophobia):

1. სატრფიალო / Satrpialo (highland, love song)
A mountaineer's song performed in Eastern Georgia to the accompaniment of the panduri.
2. ოროველა / Orovela (Kartalino-Kakhetian, work song)
Sung during the ploughing. Probably an ancient song, since the plough is an implement in use since time immemorial. "The song may have been a prayer to an agrarian deity or one of the elemental forces". (Sh. Aslanishvili)
3. კახური ნანა / Kakhuri Nana (Kakhetian, lullaby)
In pre-Christian Georgia "Nana" was the name of the sun goddess. Later this meaning was forgotten.
4. გაფრინდი შავო მერცხალო / Gaprindi Shavo Mertskhalo (Kartalino-Kakhetian, lyric song)
Expresses a family's anxiety and grief over the fate of relatives who have gone off to the wars.
5. ჩელა / Chela (Megrelian, carter's song)
A carter's lyrical song, accompanying some job that is not repetitive. The song speaks of the carter's lot, Chela being the name of his ox.
6. წინწყარო / Tsintskaro (Kartalino-Kakhetian, lyric song)
An outstanding example of Kartalino-Kakhetian lyrics voicing a young man's poetical mood.
7. შავი შაშვი / Shavi Shashvi (Gurian, hunter's song)
A comic hunting song marked by harmonic wealth and contrastive polyphony.
8. იმერული ნანა / Imeruli Nana (Imeretian, lullaby)
9. ჭონა / Chona (Kartalino-Kakhetian, ritual song)
A congratulatory ritual song performed by a group of singers on Easter Night.
10. ზარი / Zari (Gurian, lament)
11. კალოსპირული / Kalospiruli (Kartalino-Kakhetian, work song)
Sung during the threshing.
12. ბერიკაცი ვარ / Berikatsi Var (Kartalino-Kakhetian, epic song)
13. შენ ბიჭო ანაგურელო / Shen, Bicho, Anagurelo (Kakhetian, lyric song)
A song dedicated to the hard-working young singer.
14. დაიგვიანეს / Daigvianes (Kartalino-Kakhetian, lyric song)
An elegiac song to lyrics by A. Tsereteli.

Files have been tagged in Georgian.


Joe Colley - Disasters of Self (2010)

Experimental sound artist and noisemaker Joe Colley dropped this bomb last year (on Crippled Intellect Productions) to the unanimous praise of those who were lucky enough to hear it. A massive 3-LP box set, what you get here is even more special, as it includes the extra material that was only present in the "Artist Edition": 2 endless loop tapes that are meant to be played simultaneously, and a CD called 'Untitled EgoMix'. The only thing not included here is the DVD, but you're not missing out on much there. There are a number of very short tracks here; these are locked grooves (2 seconds each), just hit repeat to hear them as intended. What you get here is one huge and impressive set of, as phrased in the press release "fractured electronics, rich multi-level drones, digital bite, the sounds of decaying technology, analog twists and turns, and recording experiments and documents - plus some other aural surprises that I leave to the listener's discretion as to whether they can be classified as "pleasant" or "otherwise.""
The regular edition can still be purchased at a very decent price from the label, so if you have a decent turntable and a taste for intelligent noise, go for it. Check it out at this new link.

Kommando Raumschiff Zitrone - First Time Ever I Saw Your Face (2006)

More 'eai' that deserves your attention. Kommando Raumschiff Zitrone ('Commando Spaceship Lemon', an unusually quirky name for this genre) is one of those one-off projects again. Apart from one more track ('Roger') on the 'Improvised Music from Japan Extra 2006' compilation, there's only this one album. And seeing how it was the one and only release on Quincunx Sound Recordings, this is yet another of those records that have all but vanished from the collective memory.
The artists who make up this Kommando aren't exactly nobodies though. German clarinetist Kai Fagaschinski is known to connoisseurs for his involvement in The International Nothing, Los Glissandinos, Rebecca and No Furniture, as well as other projects with the likes of Chris Abrahams, Burkhard Stangl, Bernhard Gál, etc. He is also a member of the highly original and highly great eai-meets-popsongs-project The Magic I.D. (check out their album 'Till My Breath Gives Out', Erstwhile 2008), as is Vienna-born Christof Kurzmann (currently living in Buenos Aires), who also plays the clarinet (only on track 4 here), as well as manning the computer and playing 'devices'. He also plays in Schnee (with Burkhard Stangl) and Hammeriver, and appears on some fine duo recordings with Ami Yoshida and John Butcher.
As it flirts with traditional songforms (Roberta Flack's beautiful song that inspired the album title pops up a few times), 'First Time Ever I Saw Your Face' (recorded in March 2004) seems to anticipate The Magic I.D., but for the time being they make do without any non-sampled vocals, and at heart this still quite hardcore eai, which is to say: drones, crackles, extended techniques on the reeds, no hooks, no beats, no traditional song structures. The label seems to be gone, but this can still be found at a few distributors, such as Erstwhile. Investigate!


Mark Wastell & Graham Halliwell - Faktura (2003)

Absurd releases stubbornly remain under the radar, appearing without any commotion and quickly disappearing without a trace. A shame, because there are a lot of great experimental recordings to be found on this tiny Greek label. Take 'Faktura' for example, released in 199 copies in 2003. The artists in question are no strangers to anyone interested in electro-acoustic improvisation, lowercase music, reductionism, taomud ('the area of music under discussion'), new (London) silence or whatever you wish to call it (somehow this marginal but extremely interesting and creative branch of experimental music has resisted labeling, although eai seems to be the closest thing to an agreed upon cover-all monicker these days. Mark Wastell especially has been involved in all kinds of ways from the very beginning, witness his contributions on cello, amplified textures and bowed gongs in countless ad-hoc improv groupings over the years, and a few more stable ones such as Assumed Possibilities, The Sealed Knot, IST, Quator Accorde, Broken Consort and +minus - this list is not exhaustive! Another one is +minus, his trio with Bernhard Günter and Graham Halliwell, saxophone feedback sculptor (word to the wise: this has nothing do to with jazz whatsoever). Slightly earlier than the first album of that particular ensemble, Halliwell joined Wastell for a duo session, recorded in October 2002. This is very delicate music, fragile and nuanced. No-one has yet come up with an adequate new vocabulary for this kind of music, so I'm certainly not going to give it a shot. Just listen.


Kassel Jaeger - ee[nd] (2007)

Kassel Jaeger is the pseudonym of a Parisian composer and member of GRM, or so he or she claims. His identity remains a mystery. This CD-R, released in 2007 on the Belgian Mystery Sea label, is a typical example of the kind of stuff they release: ambient, droney, processed field recordings, musique concrète, limited to 100 copies. In 2010 two new CD releases followed, 'Lignes d'erre & randons' (Unfathomless, the new Mystery Sea sister label) and 'Aerae' on Senufo, these too both very limited editions. Get this one first.
New link!


John Butcher / Phil Durrant / John Russell - Concert Moves (1995)

'Concert Moves' is a classic recording of 'European free improvisation' (the kind that was hip for decades but has lost some fans to 'electroacoustic improv (eai)' in the last couple of years), but has been out of print for ages - as has anything on defunct Munich-based label Random Acoustics. All 3 players have appeared on countless albums since then (these recordings date from 1991-1992), with Durrant even switching to electronics in recent years, but this one still stands as a solid document of the scene at the time, with Butcher's inquiries into breathing techniques and tonal variations weaving through Russell's Derek Bailey-like guitar and Durrant's bowed cymbals. The same trio can also be heard on 'Conceits' (1987 Acta, on vinyl) and 'The Scenic Route' (1999 Emanem).
John Butcher: tenor or soprano saxophone
Phil Durrant: violin
John Russell: acoustic guitar

Ensorcelor - Urarctica Begins (2010)

I'm just going to go with the press release on this one, because I haven't quite mastered the art of ecstatic black metal hyperbole yet:
"Ensorcelor plays battle-torn slow metal enshrouded in ethereal drone-fog. The wretched, scraping sounds of desperation being dragged behind the reluctant battle drums of despair. A blackened deluge of twisted guitars and hideous, tormented vocals entwines with ugly squalls of feedback and noise; the horror gives way only briefly to an atmospheric piano and hauntingly beautiful operatic singing before rising up again to crush you utterly beneath head-sundering riffage and distortion.
3 bleak elegies to eradication. All will be destroyed. Total death to everything."

This Canadian horde's grim hymn to wastelands of frost (oh look, I'm getting the hang of it) was released in June 2010 (on tape and on CD, 100 copies each) on Media Tree (the guitarist's own label). There may be one or two copies left of the CD, so rush over there if you like this. Meanwhile, a new release (a double LP no less) is in the works.


Aihiyō - Aihiyō (1998)

Aihiyō (哀秘謡) is one of Keiji Haino's more obscure groups. There were only 2 albums, a studio recording (this one here, released in June 1998 on Tokuma) and a live one (June 2000, PSF). Both were 'cover' albums, though you'll have to take that term very loosely here. The song covered are mostly '60s and '70s pop hits. Haino released no less than 8 albums on Tokuma in 1997-1998, and they are all quite collectible nowadays. What's more important, quite a few of them are really good. There is for instance Haino's solo album 息をしているまま ('Iki o shite iru mama', or 'Keeping on Breathing') and 完結されもしない死 ('Kanketsu sare mo shinai shi', or 'A Death Never to Be Complete') by Fushitsusha (不失者), both of which I suggest you pick up next time they turn up at your local yard sale or flea market. This Aihiyō isn't half bad either, though fans of the original songs will not automatically dig these interpretations. Bear in mind that when Haino covers a song, what you end up with is 5% original song and 95% vintage Haino. Or in other words, Haino fans need not fear any bubblegum singalongs; just a slightly more accessible, melodic sound. Let's have a look at the tracklist.
What you'll find below are the Japanese titles, followed by romaji transliterations and the English titles (as given on Discogs - note that these are not always literal, and that they do not appear anywhere on the original CD). Furthermore, the original artist is given (note: the artist who first performed the song - not necessarily the songwriter), occasionally the year of original publication or some other info, and finally YouTube links to the original songs.

1. いとしのマックス ('Itoshi no Makkusu' - 'My Darling Max')
by 荒木一郎 (Ichirō Araki), from 1967; [YT]
2. 八月の濡れた砂 ('Hachigatsu no nureta suna' - 'Wet Sand in August')
by 石川 セリ (Seri Ishikawa), from the soundtrack of the 1971 film of the same title, directed by 藤田敏八 (Toshiya Fujita), who is best known for the 修羅雪姫 ('Shurayukihime' - 'Lady Snowblood') films; [YT]
3. 悲しき願い ('Kanashiki negai' - 'Melancholy Wish')
by 尾藤イサオ (Isao Bitō), from 1965; [YT]
4. 赤い靴 ('Akai kutsu' - 'Red Shoes')
by 秋吉久美子 (Kumiko Akiyoshi) on her great untitled album (1975); [YT]
5. 何故に二人はここに ('Naze ni futari wa koko ni' - 'Why the Two of Us Here')
by Kとブルンネン (K & Burunnen); [YT]
6. 骨まで愛して ('Hone made ai shite' - 'I Love You to Your Bones')
by 城卓矢 (Takuya Jō), from 1966; [YT]
7. 好きさ 好きさ 好きさ ('Sukisa sukisa sukisa' - 'I Love You')
by The Zombies (1965), but more famous as covered by Californian rock band People! (their one hit single, in 1968); [YT] / [YT]
8. 世界は二人のために ('Sekai wa futari no tame ni' - 'The World Is Ours')
by 佐良直美 (Naomi Sagara), her debut single in 1967; [YT]
9. 夜と朝のあいだに ('Yoru to asa no aida ni' - 'Between Night and Morning')
by ピーター (Peter, stage name for 池畑慎之介 (Shinnosuke Ikehata), who also acted, notably in 乱 / 'Ran' (by 黒澤明 (Akira Kurosawa)) and 薔薇の葬列 / 'Funeral Parade of Roses' (by 松本俊夫 (Toshio Matsumoto)); a single from 1969) [YT].

For some lyric translations, go here.

The line-up on both Aihiyō albums is:
Keiji Haino (灰野敬二): guitar, voice
Ikurō Takahashi (高橋幾郎): drums
Masami Kawaguchi (川口雅巳): bass

Regarding the band name, it's a word coined by Haino himself, consisting of 3 kanji characters: 哀 (ai) means sorrow; 秘 (hi) means secret; and 謡 (yō) means chant (often specifically noh chanting). What more fitting name for a '60s pop cover band?
Here [2012 reupload!].

Angizia - Das Schachbrett des Trommelbuben Zacharias (1999)

This will definitely not appeal to everybody, but I can't help but enjoy it. Angizia started out as a metal band in the fertile Austrian scene that spawned Abigor and Summoning. The project was founded by Michael Haas, who calls himself Engelke. From the start they were quite unique, with lots of piano and some very theatrical vocals (off-putting to some people). Having shared a split CD with countrymates Amestigon in 1996, and their debut proper 'Die Kemenaten Scharlachroter Lichter' (something like 'The Scarlet Lights of the Room with the Fireplace') the next year, they embarked on a trilogy of full-length albums characterized by a thematic focus on Russia and a gradual drifting away from their metallic roots and into - something harder to describe, but think cabaret, think 1920s Berlin (including the Jewish neighborhoods), operetta, rock 'n' roll piano, a smidgen of jazz, a bit of waltz, a dash of schmaltz... These albums are conceived as musical theatre pieces. The vocals are remarkable, performed by no less than 4 different voices (3 male, 1 female); often several voices sing in unison, and there's generally a real sing-along feel to things. One of the singers is Chrisof Niederwieser of that other weird Austrian metal band, Korova (later KorovaKill, but it's mainly their first album 'A Kiss in the Charnel Fields' you need to check out); his vocals are admittedly an acquired taste. There's some enjoyable piano work and a weepy Eastern European violin. Really nothing similar springs to mind.
'Das Schachbrett des Trommelbuben Zacharias' ('The Chessboard of Drummer Boy Zacharia(s)') is the second part of the trilogy (released on short-lived Austrian label Black Rose Productions) and shows an intermediate stage where there is still some metal present, but quite a bit less than on its predecessor 'Das Tagebuch der Hannah Anikin' ('The Diary of Hannah Anikin'; also 1997, also on Napalm), which was also graced by some of the most passionate black metal shrieks I have had the pleasure to encounter. On the closing chapter, '39 Jahre für den Leierkastenmann' ('39 Years for the Barrel Organ Player'), the metallic roots had largely been dispensed with, and the klezmer-ish streak already noticeable on 'Zacharias' occupied a more central role. The fact that all 3 albums were on different labels, each one more obscure than the last, may be some indication as to how few people were prepared to follow this band on their musical voyage. There was one more, self-released album in 2004 ('Ein Toter fährt gern Ringelspiel': 'A Dead Man Likes to Ride the Carousel'), a more jazzy, very eclectic hodgepodge. Apparently after years of silence a sixth album is on the way, entitled 'Kokon: Ein schaurig-schönes Schachtelstück' ('Cocoon: A Gruesomely Beautiful... -', sorry I'm not sure what Schachtelstück means here. Maybe the body of a string instrument?).

Track titles and translations:
1. Pique Dame und Rachmaninow, 1904 (The Queen of Spades and Rachmaninov, 1904)
2. Ich bin ein Bewoner des S/W-Diagramms (I Am an Inhabitant of the B&W Diagram*)
3. Der Kinderzar (The Child Czar)
4. Schlittenfahrt mit einer Lodenpuppe (Sleigh Ride with Loden Mannequin)
5. Ungeliebter Kammerfrieden (Unbeloved Chamber Peace)
6. Der Essayist (The Essayist)
7. 2 Millionen Rubel (2 Million Ruble)
8. Das Bauernendspiel (The Pawn's Endgame (or: King and Pawn versus King Endgame, it's a chess term))


*at least I assume S/W stands for Schwarz-Weiß.
Note: all translations are mine, don't accept them as gospel. German is not my first language (nor my second, or third!).