Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Tokyo Flashback: P.S.F. Psychedelic Speed Freaks" & The Legacy of Hideo Ikeezumi | Keiji Haino's "Watashi Dake?" & Fushitsusha North American Tour: Jul 19 - 22

With the passing of Hideo Ikeezumi and the conclusion of his legendary P.S.F. label there have been many remembrances of "Psychedelic Speed Freak: The Blistering Experimentalism of Hideo Ikeezumi". In the wake of the loss of this notable cultural figure and his institution, a series of corresponding events have been seen around the globe. Most notably a memorial concert in Japan and the collaborative release between Disk Union and DIW "Tokyo Flashback: P.S.F. ~Psychedelic Speed Freaks~". Next month will also see an exceedingly rare North American tour from the stalwart and defining band of the label, Fushitsusha, with a limited set of dates in New York and Los Angeles. Before his death, Ikeezumi entrusted the legacy of P.S.F. to Peter Kolovos and Steve Lowenthal, who will be reissuing selections from the vast and influential catalog on their Los Angeles based, Black Editions label. The first of which will be Fushitsusha frontman and plumber of the depths of musical and aesthetic darkness, Keiji Haino's first solo recording, "Watashi Dake?". In a rare translated-to-english interview, the guitarist spoke this year with Takeshi Goda on his formative years and first forays with the band Lost Aaraaff into early psychedelia, “Like an Antithetical Keiji Haino: A Conversation with Haino on His Early Years and 'Watashi Dake?'". Essential reading can also be found in Alan Cummings piece for Forced Exposure on the origins of Haino, and his influential role in the deep Japanese underground of the 1970s, "Pitch-Black Convulsions: Watashi Dake? in the Context of Underground Japan".

Cummings details the context from which Keiji Haino's first band of note arose, a scene born of dissolution with the 1970's Jazz Kissa, central to which was a venue called Minor in the western Tokyo suburb of Kichijoji. The venue's owner Takafumi Sato slowly transformed the space from a conventional jazz coffeehouse of the time, to a stark, bare-walled live venue where anything went. Minor situated itself in the interzone between the late-hippy 70's underground rock scene populated by groups like Les Rallizes Denudes, Takehisa Kosugi's Taj Mahal Travellers, and Zuno Keisatsu, with the newly generated punk sound heard in the Tokyo prefectures of Shinjuku and Roppongi. A sound practiced by the fledgling body of bands that included Friction, Mirrors, and Lizard, in their numbers. It would be at Minor that Haino would hone his darker-than-dark style of guitar and vocal performances, often in extended late night sessions lasting until the AM hours. This venue, depicted as ground zero in Cummings' "The Origins of the Tokyo Underground Sound" for The Wire, would also be the cultural coalescing space from which Haino's best known and longest lasting group, Fushitsusha would first emerge. In a quickly modernizing and densely populated city like Tokyo, with few opportunities outside of the Jazz Kissa and coffeehouse scenes, rare venues of this kind provided a foothold for the deep rock underground and outsider creativity. Named after his heavy rock band at the time, "Gaseneta Wasteland" is Toshiharu Osato's memoir of Tokyo's late seventies rock underground. In which Osato describes the history of Minor as a "mad, destructive race to total ruin," a space inhabited by "troublesome howling boors... goblins, monsters and ghosts." It is no wonder then that the blackest, black-clad specter in all of modern of Japanese rock would find such a space his creative incubator.