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Better known as Kei Ishikawa, this bass player contributed to Hiro Yanagida’s 1970 solo LP MILK TIME and played with ex-Dynamites guitarist Fujio Yamauguchi before quitting just before they became Murahatchibu. Thereafter, he joined Far Out.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Led by Takashi Nishioka, the man responsible for the legendary ‘Melting Glass Box’ LPs.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Yoshio Hayakawa – vocals, rhythm guitar
Haruo Mizuhashi – lead guitar, vocals
Hitoshi Tanino – Fender bass, upright bass
Takasuke Kida – drums, flute, vibraphone

The Jacks were at the forefront of the Japanese folk rock boom, in 1968 scoring a huge hit with their nihilistic single 'Marianne', a demented and atonal 6/8 sub-'Signed DC' that sounded like the Velvet Undergound played by free jazzers. But their refusal to be interviewed, emphasis on poetry and the extremely long hair of singer Yoshio Hayakawa created an underground cult that would later influence Takashi Mizutani of Les Rallizes Denudes. The Jacks began in 1966 as a folk trio called Nightingale. But it was the arrival of jazz drummer Takasuke Kida that forged the sound of the Jacks. Their debut album, VACANT WORLD (featuring the epic 'Marianne'), is at number 42 in the Japrocksampler Top 50.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
(see full story in Book One, Chapter Two)

Although Toshi Ichiyanagi is currently best know to the wider world as Yoko Ono’s first husband, he will surely be regarded in the future as Japan’s great herald of the John Cage school of chance and non-intentioned music. Born in the port city of Kobe, in 1933, Ichiyanagi studied composition under Cage while studying at New York’s Juilliard Conservatory between 1954 and 1960. During that period, he also studied piano with Barnhard Weiser, Beveridge Webster and Chieko Hara, and won the prestigious Elizabeth A. Coolidge Prize. While still a Juilliard student, Ichiyanagi made his debut public performance, in December 1954, with ‘Sonata’, a piano and violin duet on which he was joined by violinist/composer Kenji Kobayashi. Here is my attempt at a brief repository of his works, though I cannot ensure that it is entirely complete:

In 1960, Ichiyanagi composed a fifteen minute piece employing electric metronomes ‘in addition to other sound-making objects and instruments’. However, ‘Music For Metronomes’ was not recorded until 1998, when a performance by the quintet Ensemble Nomad was finally captured, at the Kimitsu Shimin Bunka Hall, at Chiba, Japan. ‘Music for Piano No. 3’ was written in 1960. A solo piano piece of 9.21 duration, it was first recorded in 1980 for the Denon Records LP TRANSFORMATION OF PIANO. The duet ‘Music For Piano No. 4’ was written in 1960. However, it was not recorded until 1998, when the piece was performed by the composer and pianist Yuji Takahashi at the Kimitsu Shimin Bunka Hall, in Chiba. At the same session, Takahashi also tackled the 1961 composition ‘Music For Piano No. 6’, making its debut on to record. ‘For Strings’ was composed in 1961, but this almost eight minute piece was not recorded until September 1998, when it was performed by violinist Kenji Kobayashi at the Kimitsu Shimin Bunka Hall, in the Japanese town of Chibu. These last three compositions were written also to be performed simultaneously. ‘Duet’ was composed in 1961 for violin and piano. However, the piece was not recorded until September 1998, when violinist Kenji Kobayashi and pianist Yuji Takahashi performed it at Kimitsu Shimin Bunka Hall, in Chiba. ‘Parallel Music’ was a nine minute long electronic piece written in 1962. It was premiered as a radio broadcast by NHK, in October ’62. ‘String Quartet No. 1’ was written in 1964, and is of flexible length. Its first performance took place in Tokyo, in May 1966, performed by the New Direction Quartet.
‘Music For Living Space’ was a ten minute long electronic piece composed for EXPO ’70, in 1970. The piece had its premiere at the Osaka Theme Pavilion. ‘Music For Piano No. 6’ was a piano solo written in 1961, and performed that same year in New York by Ichiyanagi himself. ‘Life Music’ was written in 1964, for orchestra and tape recorder. This 16.45 piece was released in 1968 on the Victor Records LP ORCHESTRAL SPACE VOLUME 1.
‘Extended Voices’ was written in 1967 for voice and synthesizer-computer. It has never been recorded. ‘Up To Date Applause’ was composed in 1968 for orchestra, Japanese nokan and tape recorder. ‘Tokyo 1969’ was a 15 minute long electronic piece composed in 1969, at the behest of NHK Electronic Studio. It was broadcast in January 1969. ‘Theater Music’ was a six-minute electronic piece composed in 1969.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Haruo Chikada - vocals
Eiichi Takagi
Katsumi Kobayashi
Yoshimi Tsuneda - drums

Although formed in the militant days of Kyoto protest during 1971, Haruophone-Biburasuton did not make their name or release an LP until 1976. They are, however, of more than passing interest because of leader Haruo Chikada’s links to the underground. In 1971, Chikada recorded the RCA collaboration FRIENDS with future Faces and Free bassist Tetsu Yamauchi, and appeared on stage with Les Rallizes Denudes at the behest of temporary front man and future Murahatchibu star Chahbo. Thereafter, Haruophone-Biburasuton was formed with former Murahatchibu drummer Yoshimi Tsuneda, Eiichi Takagi, and future Yonin Bayashi member Katsumi Kobayashi. They released the three LPs mentioned below, before Chikada split to form The Vibra-Tones in the ‘80s. In the ‘90s, Chikada embraced the coming dance trends with his new outfit President BPM.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
As the brainchild of former Launchers guitarist Osamu Kitajima, the Justin Heathcliff project was a successful attempt to cop the kind of English post-REVOLVER psychedelia that such London bands as The Syn, Mike Stuart Span and The Flies were recording in 1967-8. As such, the project was highly successful, especially considering it was recorded in London by a former GS guitarist with a fixation for traditional Japanese instruments. It was not, however, Kitajima’s fastidious attention to achieving sonic geographical accuracy that made the finished result a bit special, but the simple fact that love anything English of that periode, even if it’s been faked. The Justin Heathcliff LP is ultimately a cleverly executed but rather pointless exercise in genre re-creating, something that Acid Mother’s Temple attempted with a good deal more humour on their LP of fake ‘Occitanian folk music’ LA NOVIA.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Junio Nakahara – lead vocalist and slide guitar
Gene Shoji – lead guitar
Charles Che - bass
Eiichi Tsukasa – drums

The career of the Helpful Soul was a real case of wrong place, wrong time - for they hit their blues stride just as heavy blues was becoming hard rock, and graduated to heavy rock too late to capitalise on even that brief fad. However, they recorded one outstanding track, the ten-minutes-plus of "Peace For Fools", which appeared on their otherwise bog-standard blues dirge debut LP. This track in itself separates them from all Japanese blues bands for it is a Kim Fowleyan masterpiece of Jim Morrison mystical doggerel/truly possessed nihilist genius. Unfortunately, leader Junio Nakahara was so inspired by witnessing a performance by Blues Creation, when his band supported them at the Too Much Festival, that he was soon after driven to change his own name to Tstomu Ogawa while his band became known as ... Too Much.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Though I've never heard their music, Hill Andon were said to be a psychedelic folk group. However, knowing the dross that leaves Japan under that 'psychedelic' title via ebay, I'd be wary of buying before hearing their records.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
The sometimes hilarious and sometimes dangerous escapades of Hi-Red Center occupy a central place in Japrocksampler. Their story is told in Book One, Chapter Two 'Experimental Japan'.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007
Long considered a jazz legend and Japan’s foremost trumpeter, Terumasa Hino has played with almost all the jazz heavyweights throughout the past half century, from Gil Evans and Elvin Jones to Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Born in Tokyo in 1942, Hino made hgis professional debut at the tender age of thirteen, drawing his main inspiration from Freddie Hubbard and Miles Davis. For the first few years of his career, Hino was something of an opportunist, even jumping open Japan’s early ‘60s eleki bandwagon with the cash-in LP TRUMPET IN BLUEJEANS. However, his fiery temperament and ‘large brilliant tone’, as The Grove Dictionary of Jazz termed it saw Hino’s late ‘60s work increase both in output and quality, and his 1969 Columbia LP HI-NOLOGY was extremely successful commercially. Hino celebrated the new decade with the LP JOURNEY TO AIR, a hugely inventive disc taken up by the single title track, itself split into two sections ‘Part 1 – Gongen’; and ‘Part 2 – Peace & Love’. JOURNEY TO AIR also introduced future Miles Davis sax player Dave Liebman, while the LP’s European success enabled Hino to play at the Berliner Jazztage in 1971. Thereafter, he released the LPs VIBRATIONS and LOVE NATURE in rapid succession, whilst working concurrently as an editor of Miles Davis transcriptions. In June 1973, The Terumasa Hino Quintet released two amazing live LPs recorded on different continents. The LP LIVE! was recorded in Tokyo on June 2nd and released on the hip Three Blind Mice label, whilst TARO’S MOOD was captured in Munich, at The Domicile Jazzclub, and released on Germany’s Enja label. Both records were hugely raw and intoxicating by virtue of their long drawn out tracks, extreme percussive overload - supplied on both occasions by drummer Motohiko Hino and master percussionist Yuji Imamura – and Hino’s ability to stretch out from straight ahead melody to charging elephant cacophony. Indeed, the 25-minutes of ‘Predawn’ (which takes up all of side two of TARO’S MOOD) and the 28-and-a-half minutes of ‘Be And Know’ (which takes up the whole of side two of LIVE!) are two of my all time favourite pieces of Japanese music. Hino thereafter dropped the quintet, returning to the recoprding studio, in January 1975, for the epic sound of SPEAK TO LONELINESS. Again opting for one side long track and two slightly shorter affairs, the LP introduced a bigger, more brass orientated sound. Later in ’75, Hino moved to New York, where he worked with arranger Gil Evans Elvin Jones and Dave Liebman. His 1977 LP MAY DANCE was released on the Japanese Flying Disk label, and featured ex-Miles Davis stars Ron Carter on bass and Tony Williams on drums, plus legendary guitarist John Scofield. The music became a little typical of his New York environment until 1981’s Columbia LP DOUBLE RAINBOW, which appeared to be a a very successful homage to Miles’ lost 1975 funkathon period. Indeed, the fifteen minute opener, Masabumi Kikuchi’s ‘Merry-Go-Round’ opts for an AGARTHA-type atonal funk vibe, Kikuchi’s own organ intro highly reminiscent of Miles’ claw-handed voodoo take on Sly Stone’s sould keyboards. Moreover, Kiyoshi Itoh’s mixing style also apes many of the mix ideas that Teo Macero introduced to Miles Davis LPs. Thereafter, Hino returned to Japan to live and work throughout the ‘80s, which is outside the scope of this book.
Posted by Julian Cope, Sep 01, 2007