Gaseneta – a noisy acid punk band consisting of Toshiharu Ohsato [guitar], Jun Hamano [bass], Harumi Yamazaki [vocals] and an unidentified drummer. Recordings from 1978 surfaced much later as ‘Sooner Or Later’ [PSF, 1991].

 

Gaulois Asterix a very obscure group led by guitarist Hiroshi Kato. They made one album, ‘Inochi’ [Tengu/URC, 1970]. I’m yet to hear more than a short excerpt, but a description of the music on an LP auction list (at tiliqua-records.com) said that each side is one long track, the first with orgiastic moaning and sighing set to percussion and guitar freakouts, with the second side being more varied but no less wild. Certainly, this is a record desperately in need of a reissue!

 

Gedo (also seen spelled as Gedou) – a trio formed in 1972, including the charismatically androgynous guitarist/vocalist Hideto Kanoh, previously of the group The M [see below]. Bassist Masayuki Aoki was ex-Too Much [see below], and the trio was completed by drummer Ryoichi Nakano. Gedo had a big biker following and were a popular band at rock festivals. Their first album was ‘Gedo’ [Trio/Showboat, 1973 or 1974 – even one of the CD reissues gives both dates without saying which is correct!], and sets the tone for Gedo as a festival band, being live with plenty of audience participation. A few tracks are old-school rock & roll and softer balladry, but mostly the music is hard acid-fried greasy rock that has most in common with the Pink Fairies and quite a bit with Murahachibu [though not as sloppy and with more variety]. The debut has been reissued on CD by P-Vine and Showboat, but both are out of print. Recently a new version came out [Erebus, 2008] featuring liner notes taken uncredited from Julian Cope’s ‘Japrocksampler’. I’ve seen mention of an album from 1973 called ‘Nippon Sanka’, but I don’t know if this was actually the first album, or a later release of pre-debut recordings.

Gedo played lots of interesting gigs, including the ‘One Step Music Festival’ in ’74 with Yoko Ono, and the ‘Sunshine Festival’ in a crater in Hawaii for the ‘74/’75 New Year. Their second album was ‘In Sounds Of Hawaii Studios’ [Trio/Showboat, 1975], presumably recorded in Hawaii, followed by ‘Just Gedo’ [Trio/Showboat, 1975], after which they played at the ‘World Rock Festival’ with Jeff Beck, as well as jamming with the New York Dolls and Felix Pappalardi. Their last album for the time being was ‘Jyuttoku Live’ [Showboat, 1976], the band breaking up a year later. They reputedly got a bit poppier in these later years. Between 1978 and 1980 Kanoh released three solo albums, with his session group The East Junkie Family, before Gedo re-formed in 1981 and released the album ‘Power Cut’ [Columbia, 1981], followed by ‘Mooning’ [Columbia, 1982], ‘Live’ [Meldac, 1991] and ‘Die For You’ [Polydor, 1993] [as Hideto Kanoh with Gedo]. In 2001 Gedo re-formed again, Kanoh having kept himself busy with solo projects, soundtracks and guest appearances in the mean time. Hagakure also released some previously unissued live albums, ‘1975 Mihappyo Live’[Hagakure, 2002] and ‘Gedo Live: Kaisan Concert 1976.10.16’ [Hagakure, 2001]. In 2003, to commemorate the band’s 30th anniversary, some live gigs from the mid-70’s were released on CD. ‘Kyonetsu no Machida Police ‘74’ [Sony, 2003; 2-CD] featured two gigs from ’74, and one live track from ’73 as a bonus. The first disc gets off to a slow start, with over 8 minutes of Japanese dialogue and joking with the audience, followed by half a set of quiet acoustic material. The acoustic stuff isn’t bad, but if you’re hungry for some rock and don’t know what’s going on it could be frustrating. The rest of the set is electric and rockin’, though often a bit lethargic. When they go off though, it’s a killer guitar burn! The second disc is more consistent and rocks out most of the way through. ‘1975 Yaonkyo no Aloha’ [Sony, 2003; 2-CD] is another solid collection of two good live shows, similar to the second disc of the ’74 set. Both 2-CD sets have some occasional censorship bleeping of some sung lyrics and spoken words, so perhaps they were  recorded for radio broadcast originally. There are also some sudden stoppages to the music in mid-flight, suggesting power cuts or tape running out, but without being able to read the Japanese liner notes or understand the stage announcements I can’t say for sure Also released were ‘1976 Sayonara Nippon’ [Sony, 2003] and ‘Saigo no Mandala Yaneura Densetsu ‘76’ [Sony, 2003]. There was another Sony release at the time with another 2-CD 1975 live set but I’ve only seen the title in Japanese characters. One release also came with a DVD. There have been other Gedo releases and compilations, but it all starts to get a bit confusing regarding what is what if you can’t read Japanese.

 

Geinoh Yamashirogumi (Yamashiro Art Group) – originally an experimental/avant garde musical collective formed in the mid-1950’s, intending to ‘destroy accepted values in the world of choral music’. In 1966 Shoji Yamashiro took over as composer, arranger, producer and ‘sound architect’ of the collective. In 1974 they changed their name to Geino Yamashirogumi, though I don’t know what they were called before; by this time they had absorbed many diverse vocal influences, such as from Bali and Bulgaria. The group consists of hundreds of people ‘from all walks of life’, many of them professionals in fields of science. Most of these people work in the vocal performances. They have become known for their ‘skilful fusion of traditional music with high technology’. The collective is also home to 2 organisations, Festival Arts Research Institute and Civilization Sciences Research Institute.

The first album has come to be regarded as a bit of a classic – ‘Osorezan/Do No Kenbai’ [Invitation/RCA Victor, 1976]. It contains only 2 lengthy tracks of weird experimental music with creative mixing, exotic instrumentation and strange ritual vocals. The first track ‘Osorezan’ (‘Mt. Fear’) is utterly weird, beginning with an anguished scream and moving through various shorter sections from there. Some of it is really eerie and full-on, like a bad trip, other parts feature soft synthesizer tones and tripped-out guitars, some parts hint slightly at New Age world fusion but weird-ass, and there’s even some relaxed and funky jazz-fusion backing in one place. The sounds here and there remind us that we are nearing the 80’s, but it never gets cheesy. This is perhaps one of the most intense pieces of music I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard a lot of intense stuff of all styles. The second track is group vocal work with a ritual/shamanic feel and nice reverb dynamics, incorporating the well-known traditional ‘monkey chant’; the back art work [of the CD; not sure about the LP] shows them sitting in a circle with arms raised in the air, wearing only pants and headbands – I presume this is how they look when performing something like this.

‘Chi no Habiki Higashu Yu-Roppu Wo Utau’ aka ‘Reverberation of Earth’ [Invitation/RCA Victor, 1976], was, as far as I can gather, interpretations of traditional old European folk songs and is worlds away from the first album, though still pleasant in its own right. Numerous other albums followed which I know little or nothing about, such as ‘Yamato Gensho’ [Invitation/RCA Victor, 1977], ‘Ohgonrin Sanyoh’ [Invitation/RCA Victor, 1978], ‘Live Hirakareta Gasho’ [Invitation/RCA Victor, 1979], ‘Shonentachi Eno Chikyu Sanka’ [Invitation/RCA Victor, 1979] and ‘Africa Gensho’ [Invitation/RCA Victor, 1982]. ‘Rinne Kohkyogaku’ (Reincarnated Orchestra) [Invitation, 1986] is a concept piece about the eternal cycles of birth, death and rebirth; I’m pretty sure this is the same as the CD released as ‘Ecophony Rinne’. The music is excellent and is comparable to the styles on the Akira soundtrack, but not getting as weird. ‘Ecophony Gaia’ [Invitation, 1990] is a 70-minute ‘macrosymphony homage to the Earth’s ecosystem’; I haven’t heard it, though it’s been said to dilute the style of ‘Ecophony Rinne’ with New Age blandness. In 1988, Geinoh Yamashirogumi made the great music for the soundtrack to the popular anime film, ‘Akira’, one of the few soundtracks that stands up well on its own as an album. There is a regular soundtrack version, including some dialogue and sound effects from the film, and the ‘Akira Symphonic Suite’ version, which is longer and features only the full, original versions of the music from the soundtrack. As with the best Geinoh Yamashirogumi music it is a unique landmark, blending ancient and modern sounds in a deep, psychedelic stew with pristine sound quality. All of these albums have been reissued on CD by Victor.

 

Genya-Sai – see below under Various artists.

 

Ginbae – a very obscure heavy rock group, who made one album that I know of, ‘Ginbae’ [Sea Side, 1976]. It’s pretty good!

 

Godiego – these guys are basically only known outside of Japan for their soundtrack music to the TV series ‘Monkey’ [‘Saiyuki’ in Japan]. They’ve been around since the mid-70’s and released many albums, which I presume are firmly in the pop arena. The LP ‘Monkey Magic’ [Columbia, 1978] featured more songs rather than the great instrumental breaks, such as from many of the action scenes, though beyond the predominant soul-funk-fusion-pop stylings there are a few worthy moments, such as the broiling synths of opener ‘The Birth of the Odyssey’, and some Genesis-like prog in ‘We’re Heading Out West To India’.

Tadashi Goino Group – I know nothing about this group except the existence of an album, ‘Messenger From the Seventh Dimension’ Philips, 1979] which has a great cosmic cover. A brief snippet I’ve heard is excellent cosmic prog.

 

Golden Cups – an unruly solvent-sniffing garage psych band which at one point contained future Foodbrain and Speed, Glue & Shinki members Shinki Chen & Masayoshi Kabe [then calling himself ‘Louis Louis Kabe’], though I believe Chen left before they released any albums, joining Powerhouse in the interim [see below]. Their debut was ‘Album’ [Capitol, 1968], which featured a great deal of cover versions. This was followed by ‘Album No. 2’ [Capitol, 1968], ‘Album No. 3 - Blues Message’ [Capitol, 1969] and ‘Recital – Recorded Live at Shibuya Concert Hall 1969’ [Capitol, 1969]. ‘Super Live Session’ [Capitol, 1969] was mostly hard garage r&b with an obvious Cream influence and a loose jazziness that is actually pretty sloppy, but compensates in producing a subtle psychedelic haze over the proceedings; it’s reasonably good, with extended jamming, but nothing really original or different. Most tracks are covers, except ‘Zen Blues’ which is basically a derivative slow blues. It’s been reissued on CD by EMI/Capitol Japan. Over the last few albums - ‘All About’ [Capitol, 1970], ‘Live Album – Recorded Live at Hibiya [sic.] Concert Hall’ [Capitol, 1971] and ‘Return of the Golden Cups Volume 8’ [Capitol, 1971] – the band got a little more progressive and psychedelic. This last live album is pretty good jammy heavy rock, though it does consist largely of covers (including a good version of Mountain’s ‘Nantucket Sleighride’, and a long closing jam on the Blues Image’s ‘Ain’t No Rules in California’). ‘Return of’ is a little more commercial, though this doesn’t matter as the whole album holds together really well, blending a Beatles-like pop sensibility with a slightly proggy, west coast US psych approach.

 

Group Ongaku – an experimental group formed in 1958 by the Fluxus-influenced Takehisa Kosugi [see below], with Shukou Mizuno and some members of Tokyo University’s Musicology Programme. Their name means simply ‘Music Group’. They recorded three pieces in 1960 and 1961 that became their sole album, ‘Music of Group Ongaku’. I don’t think it was ever released at the time, but it has been available on CD [Hear Sound Art, 2000]. The 1960 pieces are noisy and chaotic musique concrete and tape-manipulated acoustic ramblings, and the 1961 piece is more sedate overall. Julian Cope has called it “The Faust Tapes thirteen years ahead of its time”, but there’s no experimental rock, or any other sign of melody, to break it up. Rather than sounding anything like Faust, I’m reminded of any number of musique concrete pieces and numerous avant garde free-improv groups that cropped up in the 60’s and 70’s, in Europe in particular, many of which are mentioned in the Nurse With Wound influences list. In fact, it is in a similar vein to the first Nurse With Wound and AMM albums.

Kinoko Gumo – he made at least one album of psych-folk, ‘Kokoro O Utau’ [King Records Custom, 1972]. The one track I’ve heard is great and mystical!

 

Gypsy Blood – They released two albums that I know of, ‘Blue Roses For the Gypsy – in Wishbone’ [Private pressing, 1971] and ‘Rokko Oroshi’ (also seen listed as ‘Rokkourishi’) [Vertigo, 1971]. I’ve only heard the second, which is mostly US West Coast-styled ‘rural rock’ and country rock. I’m not a fan of country music, but it’s not bad. Occasionally they touch on slight West Coast psych vibes, and sometimes they sound a bit like early Humble Pie, though not as good and without anything approaching Steve Marriot’s distinctive vocal style. The latter album was reissued on CD by P-Vine in 1998, with 4 bonus tracks, but is now out of print; it’s been reissued again as a mid-price CD [Naked Line/Universal, 2007].

 

Keiji Haino – a seemingly permanently black-clad guitarist/vocalist/harmonica player who was in a late-60’s Doors covers group before forming Lost Aaraaff [see below]. Around this time he befriended the similarly black-clad Mizutani Takashi of Les Rallizes Denudes [see below]. He released an early solo album, ‘Ama No Gawa’ (‘Milky Way’) [1973], reputedly containing droney electronic music which Alan Cummings described as “an enduring favourite for its evocative, spiritually charged atmosphere”. It’s been reissued on CD by Mom’N’Dad in 1993 (though I’m a bit confused about whether this is actually the first release). Haino went on to form Fushitsusha [see below] and release numerous other solo albums in various styles – too much to go into here, and there is much written about him elsewhere.

 

Mio Hani & Osamu Kitajima – Mio Hani was at the time a 7-year old girl, and she made an album about her cats, ‘Mio To Juuippiki no Neko’ [Warner Pioneer, 1972]. The reason this is of interest is the musical coordination by Osamu Kitajima [see below], backed with other members of Far Out [see above]. Reputedly the music only occasionally becomes interesting and is largely a children’s folk novelty album (in Japanese of course!).

Happenings Four – a pretty light and commercial dual keyboard-led psych-pop group, who released their debut ‘Touemi Ningen’ [Capitol, 1968], which has been compared to early Procol Harum. The next was obviously Beatles-influenced – ‘Magical Happenings Tour’ [Capitol, 1968]. Some say this is the debut; I’m not sure of the correct order of release. The cover had a slightly amusing picture of the be-costumed band, with hair up in erect top-knots, laid into a ¥10,000 bill. I’ve only heard a couple of tracks from it, which are far inferior to, and quite unlike, the Beatles [and for the record, I’m not much of a Beatles fan]. ‘Classical Elegance – Baroque ‘N’ Roll’ [Capitol, 1969] looks like a cheesy record your grandparents would own – perhaps a contractual obligation? 

‘Outsider No Sekai’ [Capitol, 1970] was loaded with very straight and dated orchestrated pop music, but often [not always, unfortunately] a subtle weirdness permeates the tracks, and a few tracks are just odd on their own. This juxtaposition of the very straight and the rather weird reminds me Sound of Feeling’s album ‘Spleen’ in approach, but not nearly as out-there, avant-garde or as interesting overall. You could also say that some tracks are a bit like the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band but without the comedy [though one strange track with a squeaky ‘Chipmunks’ voice raises a smile, and musically could practically be a Raymond Scott creation], and there’s also a bit of mid- and far-eastern folk. As Happenings Four + 1 they released another album, ‘The Long Trip’ [Capitol, 1971], which is reputedly much more on the early progressive side of things, with the band in this period compared by Julian Cope to Procol Harum and Greenslade. ‘Tohmeiningen’ [Toshiba EMI, 1973] is an album I know nothing about. Keyboardist Kuni Kawachi would also work with Tenjo Sajiki, J.A. Caesar and Flower Travellin’ Band [see above & below].

Happy End – formed in 1969, this band featured Shigeru Suzuki, Takashi Matsumoto and Haruomi Hosono, all ex-Apryl Fool [see above], as well as singer Nobuyasu Okabayashi, who was known as ‘the Japanese Bob Dylan’ and similarly was disliked by some for joining an electric band. They have been described as a Japanese Buffalo Springfield, and reputedly blended US west coast psychedelic rock styles with modern Japanese folk and soft progressive rock. They released a few albums that I know of, the debut being ‘Happy End’ (a.k.a. Yudemen) [URC, 1970]. This is often considered to be their best, and it is quite good in a low-key way, though I failed to notice much that reminded me of Buffalo Springfield, Japanese folk or actual progressive rock. ‘Kaze Machi Roman’ (‘Windy Roman City’) [1971] was another good album, but a little patchy, with a fair bit of dull country pop, though the great funky psychedelic rock makes up for it. ‘Happy End’ [King, 1973] was different to the self-titled debut, just to avoid any confusion. It was produced by Van Dyke Parks, and presuming the copy I heard was complete, it’s more of an EP than a full album. By now the style of the music was much more commercial, though still with a few good moments. ‘Live Happy End’ [1974, but rec. 1972] may have been a posthumous release, as I think the band had broken up by this point. There have also been numerous compilations, and stuff from an 80’s reformation. Hosono went on to a solo career of sorts, and Yellow Magic Orchestra [see below].

 

Masataka Hara – this guy made at least one album, the obscure ‘Ratsakunishira Sumeamikoto’ or ‘Hatsukunishira Sumemikoto’ [Vertigo, 1974], which contains one lengthy track of great psychedelic folk, with shorter tracks that are reputedy pretty ordinary.

Harimau – a heavy progressive band who have been compared to Uriah Heep. They made two albums, ‘Moko’ [Liberty, 1974] and ‘Ichika Bachika’ [Liberty, 1975].

Harumi – Harumi was a Japanese guy living in the US, where he recorded his double album ‘Harumi’ [Verve Forecast, 1968]. The first LP contains psych pop, with shorter tracks. It’s of variable interest but some tracks are really good, and perhaps reminiscent of Beatles circa ‘Sergeant Pepper’s’. The second LP contains only a lengthy track per side. One is a huge psychedelic rock jam, with great use of horns and trippy mixing, with Harumi’s parents and sister talking about him in Japanese; and the other is a two-way mystical dialogue over an exotic, introverted bed of trippy music with sitars and lots of beautiful sounds and sound effects. However the ‘dialogue’ isn’t really connected much – you have Harumi coming out with reminiscences of his childhood in Japan, and an American guy who then picks up with his own barely-related contributions of fuzzy wisdom – but it’s almost like Harumi is feeling hard-pressed to come up with anything insightful to say, whilst the other guy is trying too hard to sound like an all-knowing benevolent godhead and coming across as though he’s not really even listening to what Harumi has to say, but waiting for any break in Harumi’s reminiscences to just go back to his own benign airy monologue rather than actually sharing a discussion. Good music, though! The album is recommended even if only for these long tracks, and has beautiful cover artwork. It’s been reissued on CD by Fallout.

Toru Hatano – this multi-instrumentalist had earlier played with Brush on their sole album. In 1976-77 he made a soundtrack album for the experimental film ‘Yoko’, without having seen it, and playing everything himself. The resulting album [Mu Land, 1977], besides a poor opening track, is excellent psychedelic/electronic/prog in the vein of Far East Family Band, Tangerine Dream and Klaus Schulze. He also made ‘Space Adventure’ [Mu Land, 1978] which I haven’t heard. In the 80’s he changed his name to Toya Hatano.

Justin Heathcliff – see Osamu Kitajima.

The Helpful Soul – a blues-influenced acid rock band led by guitarist/vocalist Junio Nakahara, with Gene Shoji on lead guitar, Charles Chei on bass and Eiichi Tsukasa on drums. Their first recordings were for part of the soundtrack to the adult Osamu Tezuka animated film, ‘A Thousand & One Nights’ aka ‘Senya Ichiya Monogatari’; the rest of the soundtrack was composed by Isao Tomita [see below]. It was released on LP [Victor, 1969] and the only CD reissue so far is a 2009 bootleg of poor quality. The soundtrack album goes for a little over 30 minutes; the Tomita-composed tracks are orchestral and the kind of thing you’d expect in a big studio fantasy film of the late 60’s, whereas the Helpful Soul tracks are generally simple riffs over which the lead guitar wails away, sometimes building in a savage fuzz freakout. Their first and only full album, the aptly-titled ‘First Album’ [Victor, 1969], contained pretty good heavy psychedelic blues rock, with lots of raw jamming, though mostly pretty derivative. Even the best track, the long ‘Peace For Fools’, sees the bassist resorting to ripping of the riff to ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’. Three of the tracks are Hendrix covers, and one is a cover of Cream’s take on ‘Crossroads’; ‘Alladin’s Theme’ from the soundtrack is also repeated here [sounds like the same recording as from the soundtrack]. The album has been reissued on CD as a bootleg by Black Rose. Not long after, the group disbanded whilst Junio Nakahara changed his name to Tstomu Ogawa and formed Too Much [see below].

Hikashu – an avant-garde pop group formed in the late 70’s as an experimental improvisation unit by vocalist and song-writer Koichi Makigami [ex-Tokyo Kid Brothers – see below]. There are two archive releases as Pre Hikashu which feature music from this original formation, recorded in 1977 and 1978 – ‘Pre Hikashu’ [Transonic, 1998] and ‘Spring 1978: Live Part 2’ [Transonic, 1998].  I lack info for their debut recording, ‘Hikashu’ [1978 or 1980], but I believe ‘Natsu’ [1980] is their second album. I haven’t heard their first album ‘Hikashu’ [Eastworld, 1980]; their second, ‘Natsu’ [‘Summer’] [Eastworld, 1980] is an odd, jerky collection of avant-pop songs with some forays into electro-pop and post-punk, a little like Wha-Ha-Ha [see below] but not as whacked out. Their third album, ‘Uwasa No Jinrui’ [‘The Human Being’] [1981], was a bit more interesting and took their style more into the edges of RIO. Both of these have been reissued on CD. Synth players Makoto Inoue and Yasushi Yamashita left shortly after this and formed Inoyamaland [see below]; Hikashu continued [sometimes as Hikasu] and have released many other albums I know nothing about except that they explore many different styles.

Hill Andon – an obscure group who made at least one album, ‘Page One’ [Fish, 1975]. The music is mostly laid-back mellow rock with a melancholic edge and a mild country/folk rock feel, with great fuzz guitar leads; one track is a long heavier rock piece. Quite a bit of this album sounds like it has a Neil Young & Crazy Horse influence.

Terumasa Hino – a jazz trumpeter influenced by Miles Davis. Curiously, he did a little-known single with Flower Travellin’ Band, ‘Crash’ [Columbia, 1970]. His albums include ‘Alone, Alone and Alone’ [1967]; ‘Alone Together’ [1970]; ‘Into the Heaven’ [Columbia, 1970]; ‘Journey to Air’ [Teichiku, 1970]; ‘Love Nature: Terumasa Hino Quartet in New York’ [1971]; ‘Fuji’ [Polydor, 1972]; ‘Taro’s Mood: Recorded Live at the Domicile’ [Enja, 1973]; ‘Hi-Nology’ [1974] was apparently recorded in 1969; ‘Into Eternity’ [CBS/Sony, 1974]; ‘Journey Into My Mind’ [CBS, 1974]; ‘Wheel Stone: Live in Nemuro’ [1975]; ‘Speak to Loneliness’ [East Wind, 1975]; ‘Live in Concert’ [East Wind, 1975]; ‘Mas Que Nada’ [RCA, 1975]; ‘Hogiuta’ [East Wind, 1976], a wonderful avant garde blending of Afro-Asian ‘ethnic music’ and modern jazz; ‘May Dance’ [Victor, 1977] featured Tony Williams and John Scofield; ‘Hip Seagull’ [Flying Disk, 1978] also featured Scofield, and percussionist M’tume (from Miles’ band); ‘City Connection’ [Victor, 1979]; ‘Daydream’ [Victor, 1980]; ‘Double Rainbow’ [CBS/Sony, 1981]; ‘Trans-Blue’ [CBS/Sony, 1985], and more up to the present day. ‘Double Rainbow’ was very successful at the time, and although it owes an obvious debt to 70’s electric Miles Davis, it features an extra creativity that makes it more than just an imitation. At times it sounds like a blend of Miles, Hermeto Pascoal and German group Ibliss.

Yu Hirano – presumably an electronic musician. I’m only aware of one release, which was credited in Japanese to what translates as Plain Driver Male according to translate.google.com; discogs.com lists this as a pseudonym for Yu Hirano. That album was ‘Shougeki No UFO (Shocking UFO)’ [Victor, 1978], apparently a soundtrack from a television documentary on UFOs. It was accompanied by an in-depth liner note booklet. Although sonically it has a strange vibe, unfortunately the album is mostly speaking in Japanese (sometimes electronically affected), with occasional moments where strange, minimal electronic music seeps in and takes over. It was reissued on CD [Transonic, 1998] but is now out of print. There’s also a remix version featuring a host of modern DJs, on the same label.

Hiroshi and Claudia – this duo made one album, recorded in both Japan and Australia, but only released in Australia – ‘Six to Six’ [Atom, 1979]. Hiroshi (Yasukawa) played guitar and Claudia (Eribez) sang – the other musicians are onlt identified by first names. Musically there are four long tracks, with two being great, the other two less interesting unless you like smooth soul with reggae tinges. Of the prime tracks, one is in an early 70s Miles Davis funk jazz groove vein, the other a spacious plod that’s harder for me to categorize. The album was reissued on vinyl in 2017 [Northside/The Roundtable].

George/Joji Hirota – a talented percussionist, who in the early 70’s was involved in Stomu Yamash’ta’s Red Buddha Theatre [see below], being the musical director as well as playing. In 1977 he fulfilled the same duties with the Lindsay Kemp Dance Company. His first solo album, ‘Sahasurara’ [King, 1976], was released as by George Hirota. His next, ‘The Wheel of Fortune’ [Inner City, 1981], is the only one I’ve heard, and consists of a variety of styles, from complex fusion, ethnic/electronic quasi-New Age mellowness, and experimental percussion workouts – as well as a little bit of cheese. Other albums are ‘Rainforest Dream’ [Saydisc, 1990]; ‘Red Ribbon’ [Riverboat, 1994] [Guo Yue & Joji Hirota]; ‘The Gate’ [Real World, 1999]; ‘The Gate’ (Japanese edition – different tracks) [Toshiba EMI, 2002]; ‘Japanese Taiko’ [Arc Music, 2004] [with the Taiko Drummers]; ‘Taiko to Tabla’ [Arc Music, 2004] [with Pete Lockett]. In the early 90’s he formed the group Trisan with Guo Yue and Pol Brennan.

Haruomi Hosono – starting out as bassist for Apryl Fool, then Happy End [see above], Hosono later helped form Yellow Magic Orchestra [see below] and became well known as a successful and innovative electronic musician and producer. His first solo album was ‘Hosono House’ [King, 1973], but it reputedly contains commercial vocal r&b. He was one of the musicians on famous singer Izumi Yukimura’s album ‘Super Generation’ [1974]. He formed a group, Tin Pan Alley, with whom he released a few albums of ‘tropical’ music – ‘Caramel Mama’ [Panam, 1975], ‘2’ [Panam, 1977] and ‘Norio Maeda and Tin Pan Alley – Soul Samba Holding in Brazil’ [Panam, 1977]. During the same period he made another commercial solo album in a similar vein to the Tin Pan Alley stuff – ‘Tropical Dandy’ [Panam/Crown, 1975]. This was followed by ‘Taian Yoko’ [Panam/Crown, 1976], as Bon Voyage Co., and ‘Paraiso’ [Alfa, 1978], as Harry Hosono and the Yellow Magic Band. The latter features soon-to-be Yellow Magic Orchestra members on one track, and finally introduces some synth, but reputedly doesn’t sound much like YMO.

‘Pacific’ [CBS, 1978] came out as by Haruomi Hosono, Shigeru Suzuki and Tatsuro Yamashita, all of whom had been in Tin Pan Alley. The music is ‘exotica’ with each musician doing their own tracks, and with YMO’s Ryuichi Sakamoto [see below] on synths as a session muso. Hosono’s first masterpiece is often considered to be ‘Cochin Moon’ [King, 1978], which came out as by Hosono & Yokoo. In actuality, [Tadanori] Yokoo [see Toshi Ichiyanagi below] only did the cover art, and does not contribute to the music. Sakamoto, Hideki Matsutake [YMO, Logic System] and Shuka Nishihara also play on the album. It’s a very inventive and exotic electronic work that is highly regarded, and for good reason! As tripped-out synth albums go, this is a glittering jewel. Some parts are a kind of proto-trance-techno [in a good way – I don’t normally like that kind of stuff but this really pushes my buttons!], others hint at Bruce Haack and Kraftwerk with their playful cheesiness, and it’s thoroughly enjoyable throughout. It was reissued on CD by King but is now more or less unobtainable.

‘The Aegean Sea’ [CBS, 1979] came out as by Hosono, Takahiko Ishikawa and Masataka Matsutohya; it was similar to ‘Pacific’ conceptually, but sounding a bit different again. By this point Hosono was playing with YMO; it was a few years until he released another solo album, ‘Philharmony’ [Alfa/Yen, 1982]. It reputedly contains electronic ambient music and ‘quirky’ songs. Hosono went on to release many albums, also making music for anime, TV, movies, video games etc. He also started a funky ‘technopop’/hip-hop group, Friends of Earth a.k.a. F.O.E.#1.

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