10 obscure but brilliant Japanese psych rock bands – including the original Ghost

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As krautrock took hold of the traditionally bound German music scene in the late 1960s and early 1990s, a similar psychedelic revolution was taking place in Japan – diverse but complementary, utopian in spirit, but finding this feeling of wonder in legendary pastoral pasts as well as legendary futures. This urge to explore has continued to this day, making Japan one of the richest sources of psychedelic rock in the world.

Taking inspiration from this scene, as well as compatriots such as Motorpsycho, Norwegian Kanaan marks his next kaleidoscopic album, Tied to the earth, as well as just released a new single, Pink riff, by commissioning bassist Eskild Myrvoll to choose the best and weirdest psych rock bands that have brandished their prisms in the land of the Rising Sun.

Eskild says, “Choosing just 10 groups for this feature has been a struggle, but I have defined ‘psych’ in the broadest sense of the word to be able to include some of the groups that have inspired me the most and had the more influence on Kanaan in terms of musical audacity and pure sonic exploration. My interest in Japanese music started with my love for noise music many years ago, but across all genres the Japanese music scene is a constant source of excitement and discovery for me. I dare say that stuff like this has been very important to our band over the last few years as well, both in our compositions and in the mindset we have approached recording and improvising with, and certainly in the sound we had in mind when recording our new single. , Pink riff. “

Stronger line break

1. Temple of the Acid Mothers

One of the definitive Japanese psychedelic rock bands of all time, which over the past 25 years and under the command of guitar magician Kawabata Makoto have released a multitude of recordings under several different aliases and with a range Almost endless of collaborators, ranging from the legendary Gong and Soft Machine founder Daevid Allen to adoring Philadelphia psychedelic rockers Bardo Pond. For me, their extensive song-based improvisations and heavy references to Western and Japanese rock culture were a portal to a whole new world of psychedelic music and new inspiration for playing and recording psychedelic rock. For Kanaan, they have a strong influence in how they’ve managed to cover so much musical ground while still staying true to the nature of the AMT project, something we’ve always aspired to do – to be stylistically diverse, but still maintain l spirit of Kanaan.


2. The Naked Rallizes

Not a psych band in the truest sense of the word, more like “the craziest psychedelic noise rock band with doo-wop basslines you’ll ever hear”. For a band whose only material available is live bootlegs and whose leader has not been seen since the 90s, they have acquired an extremely solid international audience, and rightly so. Once I understood the beauty of the Rallizes and learned to appreciate the weight of their lo-fi sonic attack, I was destined never to return to the normal world again. For the ultimate hearing overload, listen The night of the assassins of the well-titled Heavier than a death in the family.


3. Flower Travellin ‘Band

Julian Cope’s striking cover photo Japrocksampler book (and theirs All over debut album), where the band is seen riding naked on motorcycles along a Japanese highway caught the eye for me and immediately interested me in the band’s music, which didn’t disappoint . Heavy psychedelic rock, with a very strong English inspiration at the start (the aforementioned album contains covers of Black Sabbath and King Crimson), before they manage to appropriate the style over a much more adventurous and diverse style. Satori album.


4. Great height

Appropriately named Psychedelic Speed ​​Freaks before they changed the band’s name to High Rise at first, their first name is probably the best description you can get of the music contained here. Crazy psychedelic garage rock, delivered with relentless energy and overwhelming volume, if their extremely lo-fi ’80s recordings give the right impression of what it was like to live a show with this power trio. It’s one of the best musical discoveries I’ve made across the psychological spectrum and it fills me with joy every time Munehiro Narita embarks on another creepy guitar solo. The energy of these recordings was definitely an inspiration for our song. Pink riff, even if we were aiming for a bit more hi-fi sound for our recordings!


5. Kikagaku Moyo

A more recent addition to this list, but this group has probably drawn more people to Japanese and Asian music over the past five years than any other group here. A coherent discography which mixes with great taste influences from psych, jazz, krautrock and traditional Japanese music, and a great live band which has been an inspiration for us too. Kikagaku Moyo also runs a label called Guruguru Brain, which offers quality psyche from a diverse roster of Asian bands. We were supposed to share a scene with them in Norway this summer, and it’s easily one of the shows we’ve been most disappointed with to have been canceled throughout the pandemic.


6, Taj Mahal travelers

In the truest sense of the word “psychedelic,” Taj Mahal Travelers might be the most psychedelic band on this list because it really could be music to take you to another dimension. Improvised drone music that has a few ambient qualities, but the musicians know all about how to pull the performance into a darker, more unsettling place as well. This loosely united group of musicians toured the world playing in art galleries and performing outdoors in the early 1970s, with some of the instruments including trumpet, double bass, synth and branches. tree (!). Finding out that one of their most acclaimed live recordings was from a concert in Sweden also brought me a little closer to the Japanese psychedelic scene.


7. Far Eastern Family Band

One of the most amazing discoveries I made in Japanese music was the 1976 Far East Family Band album. Parallel world, produced by none other than krautrock godfather and synthesizer guru Klaus Schulze. Their albums from the early ’70s are pretty good as well, but on this album they really turned their music into an immersive and trippy listening experience in the best possible way. Ambient sections, progressive breaks, spellbinding drum grooves – this band has it all! As I usually do synth overdubs on Kanaan albums, the calm and grace of the synth work on this album (courtesy of Kitaro, who went on to make an international career in new age music) as well. been an influence to add that feel to parts of our own studio work.


8. Ghost

Not to be confused with the self-conscious Swedish rockers of the same name, this psychedelic folk group led by Masaki Batoh has produced a number of quality releases since their eponymous debut in 1991. From acoustic jams to full-fledged fuzz freaks -outs and sometimes reminiscent of krautrock pioneers Amon Düül II, this group has something for anyone interested in the psyche. Their song I stole from the eponymous album is simply one of the most beautiful songs I have ever known – a sweet gem of a psych folk song, as good as I have ever heard anyone do.


9. Fushitsusha

Hearing this band for the first time a few years ago opened my eyes. The shifting line-up is primarily noise rock legend Keiji Haino’s vehicle for creating raw, unbridled noise rock from the ’80s and until today. Improvised, devastating and somehow still rock’n’roll in the most extreme sense of the word. Kaiji Haino is definitely an inspiration in how he has such a strongly defined musical character that shines through in all the projects he’s involved in.


10. OOOOO

Another group following the classic “Create a mock band for a photoshoot and end up as an extremely diverse group that delves into psychedelic rock, tribal jams, vocals and abstract sound painting”. Led by Yoshimi P-We, best known as the oldest drummer in Boredoms, a very exciting group who always seem to keep a keen eye out for new musical experiences.

Kanaan’s album Earthbound is released on November 12 via Jansen Records. Pre-order it on the Kanaan Music Camp Page. Pink Riff’s single is out now.


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