Sadakazu Tabata & Groovy 6 – Tabata is a drummer who made at least one album with his Groovy 6 band, ‘Smash In The Rock’ [Polydor, 1971]. Despite looking pretty straight on the cover, it’s actually a good album overall, ranging from 12-bar ‘groovy’ jazz [the kind of thing you might expect from an exploitation album of the period] to more freaky fuzz rock jamming. Some of the latter kind of tracks with fuzz bass are in the same general field as Food Brain and Love Live Life + 1 [see above], though not quite as good. Hiro Yanagida [see below] features on keyboards, and composed some of the music, most of the rest being covers, ranging from a radically transformed ‘Love Me Tender’ to Led Zeppelin’s ‘Moby Dick’. Be warned, also, that almost every track on the album features a drum solo! Others in the group are also fairly well-known, such as Masaru Imada [see above], Masaoki Terakawa [played with Dema, Kuni Kawachi & others], and Shigeru Narumo [Strawberry Path, Flied Egg].

 

Taj Mahal Travellers – an experimental group formed in 1969 by Takehisha Kosugi [see above]. They were a large combo playing free-form organic electro-acoustic improvisations, using diverse instrumentation such as electric violin, electric double bass, harmonica, percussion, timpani, vibraphone, castanet, trumpet, bass tuba, electronics, voice and ‘suntool’. All of this was heavily treated with effects during live performances by Kinji Hayashi. They excelled in creating oozing, and sometimes jarring, trippy soundscapes with a deep mystical Japanese feel, a step on from groups such as AMM, Anima, Kluster, Dream Syndicate and perhaps some of the more spacious early Tangerine Dream [circa Zeit & Atem]. They performed anywhere they could, from coffee houses and art galleries to beaches and other outdoor settings, providing electricity was available. Their first official album was the excellent ‘July 15, 1972’ [CBS Japan, 1972], featuring 3 lengthy excerpts from the one performance; it was recorded in Tokyo on a stopover in the midst of a tour of Europe and England. This has been reissued on CD by Showboat. Their second and final album, ‘August 1974’ [CBS Japan, 1975] was a double LP set recorded in the studio, featuring a lengthy track per side. It was less varied and perhaps slightly more jarring in parts than the debut, but still a fine album. It’s been reissued as a 2-CD set by P-Vine. By late 1975 the group had broken up, with Kosugi resuming his solo career. A recording predating their debut, ‘Live Stockholm July 1971’ [Drone Syndicate, 1998], has recently been issued for the first time on CD, and some prefer it over the official releases; reputedly it’s a lot more varied and chaotic. They also have an excellently trippy live side on the double LP ‘Oz Days Live’ [see below under Various artists].

Other info I’ve found suggests that the Taj Mahal Travellers didn’t stay apart for long, and continued playing for a while without Kosugi, but with Kazuo Imai [see East Bionic Symphonia, above] filling his shoes.

Tatsuya Takahashi & Tokyo Union Orchestra – Takahashi is a saxophonist, whose album ‘The Rock Seasons’ [Toshiba-Express, 1972] is reputedly worth checking out for its progressive big band jams.

 

Yuji Takahashi – an avant-garde pianist known for his interpretations of Xenakis pieces. He made an album with Masahiko Satoh [see above], ‘Yuji Takahashi & Masahiko Satoh’ [Columbia, 1974], consisting of avant-garde piano music with electronics; one track is on the compilation ‘Early Dedicated Japan’ [King, 2005]. Takahashi also played on an LP with Takehisa Kosugi and Steve Lacy [see above]. Both of these albums have been reissued on one CD. Takahashi also made a record with Masahiko Togashi, and is on the ‘Space Theatre’ various artists album [see below for both].

 

Nishioka Takashi – formerly of Itsutsu No Akai Fusen and Melting Glass Box [see above], his first solo album, ‘Maninnoki’ [URC, 1973] may be of some interest to readers. Although not quite as good as Melting Glass Box, it offers some nice ethnic psych folk alongside more conventional acoustic-based songs. It’s been reissued on CD by Prime Direction. ‘Kanashii Uta’ (‘Sad Songs’) [Victor, 1975], ‘Soup’ [Victor, 1975] and ‘Kaze Hakushi’ [Victor, 1976] are some others. He’s probably made more albums but I know nothing about them.

 

Masayuki Takayanagi – a free jazz guitarist known for his totally fucked-up deconstructed playing – a Japanese Sonny Sharrock, if you like. He released several albums in the late 50’s and early 60’s, reputedly in a bossa nova jazz style, before finding his monstrous free style in the late 60’s, forming his group New Direction For The Arts/New Direction Unit with bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa [see below] and others. I think his first album from this period was ‘We Now Create’ [Victor, 1969], but I’ve also seen this listed as a Masahiko Togashi album [see below], featuring Takayanagi and others, with a 1968 release date. ‘Independence: Tread on Sure Ground’ [Teichiku, 1969; reissued on Tiliqua with 1 bonus track] was an excellent free jazz album, more artful and restrained than a lot of Takayanagi’s music, and sounding a little influenced by Wolfgang Dauner circa ‘Free Action’. ‘April Is The Cruellest Month’ [April Disk, 1991; reissued on Jinya Disc, 2007] is another recommended album, recorded in 1975 for ESP but not released at the time due to the collapse of the label. ‘Action Direct’ [Kijima Recordings, 1985; reissued on Tiliqua] saw the use of a variety of objects, cassette recorders and electronic treatments to create fascinating, dense masses of moving sound, a little like Taj Mahal Travellers crossed with AMM & Keith Rowe. 

Other albums include ‘Guitar Workshop’ [Teichiku, 1970]; ‘Kaitaiteki Kohan’ [Sound Creators, 1970]; ‘Mass Projection’ [Victor, 1970]; ‘Swing Allstars’ [Philips, 1971]; ‘Free Form Suite’ [Three Blind Mice, 1972]; ‘Jazz Guitar Forms’ [RCA, 1973]; ‘Eclipse’ [Iskra, 1975]; ‘Axis Another Revolvable Thing 1’ [Offbeat, 1975]; ‘Axis Another Revolvable Thing 2’ [Offbeat, 1975]; ‘Cooliojo’ [Three Blind Mice, 1979]; ‘Live at Moers Festival’ (New Direction Unit) [Three Blind Mice, 1980]; ‘Lonely Woman’ [Trio, 1982]; ‘Waltz Step/Up and Down’ [Aketa’s Disk, 1985]; ‘Experimental Performance’ [Moby’s, 1986] was done with John Zorn; ‘Inanimate Nature’ [Jinya Disc, 1990]; ‘Call In Question’ [PSF, 1991], a live recording from 1970, features lengthy noisy improvisations. There are also other live various artists albums featuring Takayanagi amongst others, including ‘Genya Concert’ [see below under Various artists].

 

Toru Takemitsu – a well-known experimental composer who made some of Japan’s first electronic music back in the 50’s. He was also a film and music critic, and as well as composing many film scores [Akira Kurosawa’s ‘Ran’ being a prominent one], he also wrote a detective novel. One of his earlier recordings, the soundtrack to the 1965 ghost-story film ‘Kwaidan’, is also amongst his most intriguing. His soundtrack was integral to the mood and expression of the film, often being the only sound present in lieu of natural ambience. The music is generally sparse and unsettling, making excellent use of biwa, shakuhachi, percussion, electronics and the human voice. As far as I know, the soundtrack was never released on its own. The LP ‘Film Music by Toru Takemitsu 1’ [Victor, 1980] contains 27 minutes of music from the film [I’m not sure if this comprises all of the music, as some parts may have been reused in the film giving the impression that there’s more – the full soundtrack in Takemitsu’s mind would probably have to consist of the sound for the whole film], as well as music from the films ‘Samurai Rebellion [Joiuchi]’ [1967] and ‘Seppuku’ [1962]. There’s a CD version [JVC, 1990] with music from other films as well, but appearing to leave off the ‘Samurai Rebellion’ stuff.

His first album ‘Toru Takemitsu’ [Philips, 1969] was a French release, and contained performances of his compositions from various times. ‘Eclipse (for biwa and shakuhachi)’, composed in 1966, took up much of the first side and was a meditative piece of ancient-sounding Japanese music; ‘Masque (for 2 flutes)’, composed 1960-61, continued in a similar feel; ‘The Dorian Horizon’, composed 1966, was performed by the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, and was a wonderful piece of moody, dark avant-garde classical music; ‘Cross Talk (for bandoneons and magnetic tape)’ was a strange piece of electroacoustic music neatly bridging between the previous track and ‘Sky, Horse & Death’, a piece of musique concrete he made back in 1954 for a radio play. It’s an excellent record showcasing Takemitsu’s varied musical talents. He has composed pieces for Stomu Yamash’ta [see below], and  later helped Magical Power Mako [see above] get his first record deal. Other Takemitsu albums that I know of – not including collaborations or appearances on compilations – are ‘Coral Island/Water Music/Vocalism Ai’ [RCA Victor, 1969], ‘Corona/Far Away/Piano Distance/Undisturbed Rest’ [Headline, 1972], ‘Miniatur II’ [Deutsche Grammophon, 1974], ‘Miniatur V: Art of Toru Takemitsu’ [Deutsche Grammophon, 1975], ‘Film Music of Toru Takemitsu 6’ [JVC, 1991], ‘Rising Sun’ (OST) [Arista, 1993], ‘The Film Music of Toru Takemitsu’ [Nonesuch, 1997], ‘In an Autumn Garden’ [Deutsche Grammophon, 2002], ‘Piano Music’ [Naxos], ‘Choral Works’, ‘Chamber Music’ [Naxos, 2003], ‘Orchestral Works - A Flock Descends Into The Pentagonal Garden’ [Naxos, 2006]. Takemitsu had a side of music on the 2-LP ‘Orchestral Space Volume 1’ [Victor, 1968], alongside Toshi Ichiyanagi, Joji Yuasa and Yuji Takahashi.

 

H. Tamaki & S.M.T. – Hiroki Tamaki is a violinist who started composing aged 10. He played in the Tokyo Symphony, but later dropped out of the formal classical music world. In 1970, he played electric violin on Hiro Yanagida’s first solo album, ‘Milk Time’ [see below]. At some point Tamaki formed the group S.M.T. [no idea what that stands for] and made an unusual album, ‘Time Paradox’ [Columbia, 1975]. Every track is different, ranging from symphonic/classical progressive rock, Vivaldi-like stuff, trippy eastern mind-melt, funky jazz rock with wacked-out electronics etc. mostly with prominent electric violin and [usually] subtle use of Moog. Some of it is a bit too cheesy for my tastes, but I find a lot of the album very enjoyable, and some of it is just awesome. It was reissued on CD by P-Vine. Other albums followed, though I’m not sure if they came out as by H. Tamaki or H. Tamaki & S.M.T. – ‘Kumoino-Hototogisukoko’ [1979] and ‘Zonzai No Uta’ [1980]. Tamaki has also made a lot of music for films and television.

 

Kiyoshi Tanaka & Super Session – this combo made one faux-live album, ‘British Rock Live in Japan’ [Teichiku, 1972], claimed to be recorded live at a US Army base in Japan, but there’s no hint of any audience being present. The session group included guitarist Kimio Mizutani [see above] and organist Nobuhiko Shibahara [later of Band Aide – see above]. Side 1 is one very long psychedelic rock jam, with different sections dedicated to different groups – Grateful Dead, Deep Purple, Atomic Rooster, Mothers of Invention/Zappa, and Uriah Heep, whilst never sounding much like any of them! Side 2 features a great cover of Pink Floyd’s ‘Echoes’, and ‘Jimi Hendrix Mad Song’, the most primitive jam on the record, with a drum solo and wild guitar rampages (though not to the demented extent I’d expected from the review on the cdreissuewishlist blog). An excellent album, excellently recorded. It was reissued on CD in 2016.

 

Toshio Tanioka/Tom and Jerrys – Tanioka is a violinist, who also played on a couple of tracks on the second Gypsy Blood album. This combo released two albums that I know of, ‘Nippon Minyou In New Country’ [Tam, 1972] and ‘Human Being’ [Tam, 1973], which have been described as country rock. However, I’ve heard one track from the first album and it’s a beautifully executed slice of flowing psych rock ending in a jazz-funk groove, all bringing to mind the Grateful Dead circa 1970 on a good night. Tanioka also plays guitar, harmonica, percussion and taishogoto; Tom & Jerrys also comprised of Kazuo Mizobuchi, Yuchiro Toyama, Iwao Tsujita and Shotaro Tanaka.

 

Tenjo Sajiki aka Tenjousajiki (The Top Floor Gallery) – an underground experimental theatre company that used progressive forms of music in their performances, formed by Shuji Terayama with Yutaka Higashi. In 1968, Higashi parted to form the Tokyo Kid Brothers [see below]. In 1969, J.A. Caesar [see above] became the company’s musical director. In 1970, a soundtrack to one of Terayama’s theatre projects, ‘Throw Away The Books Let’s Go Into the Streets’, was released on their own label, and later re-done in a different form by the Tokyo Kid Brothers for the film version. It featured keyboardist Kuni Kawachi [see above] and Tadatoshi Nagoya as arrangers, and J.A. Caesar performed on one track. Eiichi Sayu, later of Far Out [see above], also featured as a performer. It has some similarity to the Tokyo Kid Brothers version, but is very different overall. The musicianship and quality of recording is a bit sloppy in parts, but it is an entertaining and unique album all the same.

Over the next few years other albums of Tenjo Sajiki productions were released as J.A. Caesar albums [see above]. The only other album that I know of that seems to have been released as solely by Tenjo Sajiki is ‘Aho Bune’ [I’ve also seen it listed as ‘Ahousen’] (‘The Ship Of Fools’) [Columbia, 1976], which was sponsored by the Shah of Iran’s daughter, and premiered at the 10th Persepolis Arts Festival in Shiraz, Iran, in 1976. The ensemble performed alongside other avant garde artists such as Stockhausen and Xenakis. The music is broadly similar to that on J.A. Caesar’s ‘Shintokumaru’, though perhaps a bit more diverse, and is one of the best from the J.A. Caesar/Tenjo Sajiki bunch. This was reissued on CD with a book by P-Vine, now out of print, and there’s a more recent reissue on Showboat in a sturdy mini-LP cardboard gatefold. Shuji Terayama also made at least one solo album [see below].

When Terayama died in 1983, J.A. Caesar took over the reigns of Tenjo Sajiki. You can read an account of an early Tenjo Sajiki extravaganza here: http://www.randomhouse.com/...

 

Takeshi Terauchi & the Blue Jeans – this famous guitarist played in a surf-rock style, inflected with eastern and Mediterranean touches as with The Atlantics. I believe he has made many albums, but a recommended one is ‘Rashomon’ [King, 1972; Telefunken, 1973], containing a feast of inspired, blazing psych-surf with occasional ferocious fuzz. The tunes are based on traditional Japanese songs, but are seamlessly interpreted in a modern style.

 

Shuji Terayama – the leader of Tenjo Sajiki [see above], Terayama put out at least one album just under his own name – ‘Daidogei’ [CBS, 1978]. It is apparently a tapestry of field recordings capturing the vanishing old Japan in sound.

 

IIIC (3C) Magical Space Band – a mini-side project of Hideki Matsutake [see above], with one EP – ‘The Infinite Space Octave’ [CBS Sony, 1978]. The music is apparently an experimental sound painting of some kind. It was reissued on CD together with Matsutake’s ‘007 Digital Moon’ album [Sony, 2003].

 

Masahiko Togashi  an avant-garde drummer who, since an accident in 1969, had to play without the use of his legs. He made Japan’s first free jazz album, ‘We Now Create’ [Victor, 1968], with an ensemble also including Motoharu Yoshizawa [see below], Masayuki Takayanagi and Mototeru Takagi, but I’ve also seen this referred to as a 1969 release credited to Takayanagi [see above]. It has been reissued on CD by Bridge. ‘Speed and Space’ [Union, 1975] was recorded in 1969, with Masahiko Satoh [see above] in the group. Both albums are great if you’re into free jazz.

Togashi played on some albums by Toshiyuki Miyama’s New Herd Orchestra [see above], and got to front one of his own, credited to New Herd + M. Togashi – ‘Canto of Aries’ [Columbia, 1971]. The music has been described as “spacious and sinewy soundscapes” by blogger onxidlib; I found it to sound like an earlier attempt at something like the ‘Eternity?/Epos’ album [see Toshiyuki Miyama & New Herd above], but more recognisably born from jazz. ‘Guild For Human Music’ [Denon Nippon Columbia, 1976] is an excellent album blending mind expanding organic ethno-avant-jazz with furious bursts of free jazz. In the mid-70’s Togashi was in Cosmic Pulsation Unity [see above]. ‘Twilight’ [Nippon Columbia, 1977], co-credited to keyboardist Yuji Takahashi, featured one side of free improvisation between piano and percussion, with much overdubbing, and one side of blissfully meditative Indian-vibed cosmic drone, somewhere between La Monte Young’s Dream Syndicate and minimalist Terry Riley. The album also featured Yoshizaburo Toyozumi on percussion, and Ryuichi Sakamoto [see above] on synthesizer. His album co-credited to bassist Isao Suzuki [see above], ‘A Day Of The Sun’ [King, 1979], is also excellent. Other albums include ‘Song For Myself’ [East Wind, 1974], ‘Story of Wind Left Behind’ [Nippon Columbia, 1975], ‘Isolation’ with Mototeru Takagi [Columbia, 1976], ‘Guild For Human Music’ [Denon/Nippon Columbia, 1976], ‘Motion’ [Denon, 1977; as Masahiko Togashi Trio] and ‘Spritual Nature’ [Inner City Records, 1979]. At the start of the 80’s he also was in Togashi-Yamashita Duo (with Yosuke Yamashita).

 

Tokyo Kid Brothers – formed in 1968 by Yutaka Higashi, a founding member of Tenjo Sajiki [see above], as his own splinter underground/experimental theatre troupe [though still sometimes working in association with Tenjo Sajiki]. The earliest recording I know of is a very rare (100 copy) EP with Apryl Fool [see above] as the backing band – ‘Love & Banana’ [private press, 1969]. In 1970 they made an impact abroad with some performances at New York’s La Mama Experimental Theatre Club. Their first album was te double LP ‘Returning Golden Bat’ [King, 1971]. Despite reputedly being one of the best Tokyo Kid Brothers albums, few have heard it, and vinyl rips downloaded from the internet have so far invariably been the inferior late-70’s Golden Bat remake. It was reissued on CD in 2015 [Fuji/King], and although it has its moments, it is nowhere near as good as legend would have it, and is rather similar to ‘Saiyuki’ from a couple of years later [below]. Confusing matters is the next album, ‘Golden Bat’ [Polydor, 1971], the cover of which has been presented on blogs along with the tracks from the 1977 remake. ‘The Story of Eight Dogs’ [King, 1971] came out around the same time. Singer and songwriter Itsuro Shimoda left after this to form Yuigonka [see below].

Their classic album ‘Throw Away The Books Let’s Go Into The Streets’ [Victor, 1971] is different to the earlier Tenjo Sajiki version (being for the film version rather than the original theatre version), but like it, is without many obvious parallels in western music and has a strange uniquely Japanese feel. It features an odd mix of rough & raw psychedelic rock [at times midway between High Tide, Foodbrain & Amon Düül], rousing anthemic bursts, mournful psychedelic funeral marches, theatrical moments, bits that could be from a late-60’s film soundtrack, ballads, and a fair bit of spoken [and angrily shouted] stuff in Japanese. Some parts are reworked versions of themes from the Tenjo Sajiki version. Due to the all-Japanese liner notes of the P-Vine CD reissue, I’ve found it hard to figure out who was on this album, but I’ve read elsewhere that it included guitarist Hideki Ishima from Flower Travellin’ Band, and singer/shouter Kan Mikami [see above], who was with the troupe for a while. It’s pretty likely J.A. Caesar [see above] was involved in this album, as it is quite reminiscent of some of his early 70’s albums. ‘Saiyuki - The Moon Is East The Sun Is West’ [SON, 1972] is from a live performance in Amsterdam and is ok but overall nothing special, which not much in the way of crazed rock. It’s a bit easier to follow some of the story though, as the spoken parts between songs are in broken English.

My knowledge of the rest of the TKB discography is patchy, but there was a 6-CD box set released by P-Vine. As well as the works already mentioned this includes Polydor recordings for a play called ‘The Lost Colour Blue’, King recordings from the productions ‘One and the Same Door’ and ‘Golden Bat Returns’, Victor recordings from a 1977 revived version of ‘Golden Bat’ [not the same as ‘Golden Bat Returns’, I believe], Warner Pioneer recordings for an unreleased 1975 album called ‘October is the Golden Country’, ‘Love & Banana’, and other previously unreleased material. It came with generously-sized liner notes, but they’re all in Japanese. The afore-mentioned description I’ve been going from [from the Forced Exposure website] also hints that Tokyo Kid Brothers were not involved in all of the recordings on ‘Throw Away Your Books…’, and as such only 5 tracks from that album are included. Much of this material is reputedly of very little interest to fans of ‘Throw Away The Books’. Apart from that album, personally I’ve only heard the 1977 version of ‘Golden Bat’, which has some reasonably good moments of progressive jazz rock here and there, but it’s largely a pretty straight affair that sounds like family entertainment theatre to me [except I can’t understand a word they’re saying, so I don’t know how wholesome it really is!].

Tokyo Kid Brothers performed for some 30 years, until Higashi died in 2000.

 

Tomita – a well-known and award-winning synthesizer player and composer, full name Isao Tomita. In the 50’s he was already pursuing his interest in electronic music; in 1956 he composed the theme music for the Japanese Olympic gymnastics team, and also made music for films and television, including the anime ‘Kimba The White Lion’ and live-action show ‘Captain Ultra’. A 2-CD set of his 1967 ‘Captain Ultra’ music has been released [Solid Records/Ultra Vybe, 2007], and has been said to be comparable to Peter Thomas Sound Orchestra. In some ways it is, although without really exploring the proto-electronic rock areas. The music mainly consists of cheesy orchestrated theme music intercut with spacey and spooky electronic sci-fi explorations, with many tracks being slight variations on what has come before; as a result, the second disc is fairly dispensable because it doesn’t offer much that’s new or particularly different, and you get the idea well before the first disc is over. Maybe this is one more for completists and cheese-fiends only, especially given the unreasonably high retail price! Some of his film music is much better, for example the soundtrack he made for ‘Hanzo the Razor 2: The Snare’ [1973], which is full of crazed fuzz bass, electronically treated flute and weird synth sounds.

Tomita composed some strange psychedelic music for Osaka’s Expo ’70 which appeared on a three-track EP, ‘Expo ’70: Multiplex Sounds For “Global Vision” Toshiba-Ihi Pavilion’ [Toshiba, 1970]. The music was performed by a large ensemble, including Akira Ishikawa & his group, the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra, and others. Each track was very different, and the first went through numerous radical changes within the track, some of it admittedly a bit cheesy.

‘Switched on Hit & Rock’ [CBS/Sony, 1972] is one I haven’t heard, but I presume the title gives the contents away; whether it’s any good is another question! The tracks selected for the electronic cover treatment, such as ‘Bridge Over Troubled Water’, ‘Love Me Tender’, ‘Mrs Robinson’ etc., suggest it’s nothing worth going out of your way to find. The record was reissued in the UK in 1974 as ‘Electric Samurai – Switched on Rock’.

In 1973 he formed an electronic music group, Plasma Music, with Kinji Kitashoji and Mitsuo Miyamoto. The bulk of his work, with which he has been quite successful, consists of all-synthesiser adaptations of classical works. The best I’ve heard is one of his earliest albums [perhaps his first], ‘Snowflakes Are Dancing’ [RCA, 1974], which features Debussy adaptations and is really quite beautiful listening if you enjoy both electronic music and classical music. It’s certainly no Moog-meets-Bach type cheesiness! When I listen to parts of this I can practically see snowflakes falling outside on a dark, clear night. Lovely! Apparently this was also released in a different cover as a Plasma Music release, and also as ‘Clair de Lune’ by Tomita. Tomita went on to release many other albums, many reinterpreting classical works, including ‘Pictures at an Exhibition’ [RCA, 1975], ‘Firebird’ [RCA, 1975], ‘The Planets’ [RCA, 1977], ‘Cosmos’ [RCA, 1978; included the Star Wars theme!], ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ [RCA, 1978], ‘Daphnis et Chloe’ [RCA, 1979], ‘Grand Canyon Suite’ [RCA, 1982], ‘Dawn Chorus’ [RCA, 1984] and ‘Storm From the East’ [RCA, 1992]. I haven’t heard many of these, but ‘Firebird’ is pretty enjoyable and progressive, and ‘The Bermuda Triangle’ contains plenty of excellent trippy cosmic electronics [as well as great artwork].

 

Kazuki Tomokawa – coming from a similar position as Kan Mikami [see above], this singer/poet/actor etc. started with didn’t get an album out until 1975, a self-titled record ‘Finally the First One’ [Harvest, 1975], followed by ‘Nikusei’ [Harvest, 1976]. Next was Senbazuru Wo Kuchini Kuwaeta Hibi (In My Mouth Day After Day)’ [Harvest, 1977], a great album of angsty folk-prog with some dark psychedelic touches. He continued to release albums, with ‘Sakura No Kuni No Chiru Naka O’ (‘Within the Country of Falling Cherry Blossoms’) [King, 1980], arranged by J.A. Caesar [see above], being a highlight (and with a great cover!). It has been described by Alan Cummings as ‘intense prog-folk’ with “the final track a 15 minute masterpiece that explodes from a wind-blown beginning into a maelstrom of chanting choirs, full-on guitar and Tomokawa’s deranged howling”! That’s a bit of an exaggeration, but the general description of the album is in the right ball-park. It has been reissued on CD but is out of print. Also recommended is ‘Hitori Bodonori’ (‘A Solo Dance of the Dead’ a.k.a. ‘Dance a Bonodori Alone’) [PSF, 1995], especially for the weird title-track, a Siloah-like acoustic mantra that is slowly flooded with brilliantly applied electronic sounds. Other tracks are not as tripped out, ranging from cello explorations to sub-Bob Dylan folk, though the whole album is still quite good, seemingly hovering a few inches off the ground while simultaneously being firmly rooted to the earth. The backing band apparently includes famed bassist Motoharu Yoshizawa [see below], but I can’t hear much of him.

 

Yasunao Tone – originally a saxophonist, he had been involved in Group Ongaku [see above] in the early 60’s. In 1961 his composition ‘Anagram For Strings’ was recorded by Takehisa Kosugi [see above], and later showed up on one side of an LP, ‘Yasunao Tone’ [Slowscan Editions, 2005], with a 1979 Tone composition ‘Geography & Music’ featuring Kosugi, John Cage, David Tudor and Martin Kalve on the other side. Tone and Kosugi sometimes played as a duo, as well as performing with Group Ongaku. Tone was also involved in the radical performance-art troupe Hi-Red Center. In 1966 he made history by putting on the world’s first computer arts festival, which included performance from his computer music group Team Random.

 

Too Much – an obscure group formed in 1970 by guitarist/vocalist Tstomu Ogawa [ex-Helpful Soul, as Junio Nakahara], inspired by Blues Creation [see above]. They made only one album I’m aware of, ‘Too Much’ [Atlantic, 1971]. It’s nothing very original, containing a fairly generic mix of Black Sabbathy-heavy rock, slow blues [one song sounds like a thinly-disguised re-make of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’!], dodgy ballads and soft progressive rock. I find a bit over half the album is fairly good, and the opening track is a great heavy riff monster. Nothing to write home about overall, though. Bassist Masayuki Aoki went on to Gedo [see above]. The album has been reissued as a bootleg CD by Black Rose. Too Much also appear on the various artists ‘Rock Age Concert’ [see below].

Tranzam – a good funky fusion band that included a fair amount of progressive rock influence on their first album, ‘Funky Steps’ [Columbia, 1974], but they went the mainstream route therafter.

Yasutaka Tsutsui, Kohsuke Ichihara & Masahiko Satoh – this trio collaborated to produce the album ‘Dema’ (‘Rumour’) [CBS/Sony, 1973], which is not also the name of the group as was thought by myself and many others. It was referred to on the inside cover and label as number 2 in the Sound Display Series – no idea what else was in that series. The album was adapted from an original story by Tsutsui, and the liner notes credit Yoshio Gyoda for “commentary”, but as it is an entirely instrumental album I have no idea what this actually means. Satoh [who arranged and composed the music; see above for his own entry] and Ichihara each led a separate group who combined to create the music. These were Kohsuke Ichihara All Stars, consisting of Ichihara on wind instruments, Takao Naoi and Kimio Mizutani [see below] on electric guitar, Masaoki Terakawa on electric bass, Hideo Ichikawa on electric piano and Akira Ishikawa [see above] on drums; and Masahiko Satoh & Garan-Doh, consisting of Satoh on piano and synth, Keiki Midorikawa on wood bass and Hozumi Tanaka on drums and percussion. The music is interesting avant-garde jazz rock that is mostly pretty spaced-out and occasionally enters free jazz territory. Most of the album consists of a length piece broken over two sides, with a shorter piece at each end. The gatefold cover features memorable artwork with a baby floating in space, overlaid with a lattice of geometric diagrams. It’s also quadrophonic, by the way! I didn’t think it was available on CD, but apparently there is a reissue on Fuji Discs [2007].

 

Yasutaka Tsutsui & Yosuke Yamashita – this duo made a very obscure and very wonderful album, ‘IE’ [Frasco, 1976], with assistance from a host of others. Tsutsui wrote the lyrics – which are presented in occasional narration, monologues or dialogues as with J.A. Caesar – and Yamashita composed most of the music [with the remainder by Masayuki Ise] and played a large array of keyboards and percussion instruments. The rest of the music was made by over 30 others, including Akira Sakata [see below] on sax. The album appears to be a kind of audio play on record, although the spoken bits don’t dominate. The music is an excellent blend of classical, electronic and progressive rock with lots of variety in style and mood, and imaginative blendings, touching on Mike Oldfield [one bit is copied straight from ‘Tubular Bells’, but the riff is only played once before moving on], David Bedford, David Axelrod [minus the funky drums], Phillip Glass, Maschine Nr 9, Battiato, and early Stomu Yamash’ta.

 

Yuya Uchida – see [Yuya Uchida &] the Flowers above.

 

Kazuo Uehara – an experimental/electronic musician. ‘Obscure Tape Music of Japan Vol. 15: Event ‘73’ [Edition Omega Point, 2012] features a live performance on synth (incorporating some pre-recorded sounds) in New York at the end of Uehara’s visit there. ‘Obscure Tape Music of Japan Vol. 16: Early Works’ [Edition Omega Point, 2012] contains music made in the 1980’s.

 

Uganda – see Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalos [above].

 

U.P.O. – Unidentified Pulsating (Pulsing?) Object –  an extremely obscure group who released only one album that I know of, ‘Mugen Uchu No Tabi – Infinite Cosmos Travel’ [CBS/Sony, 1978]. The music consists of long, minimal cosmic electronic explorations that are mostly very quiet, with occasional eruptions; there’s lots of quiet noodling, little melody and no rhythmic content, but great stuff to drift away to.

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