TIP OF THE TONGUE 06 FEBRUARY 2011
Music Of Group Ongaku
Seer Sound Archive 001
OUT OF STOCK!
Stunning vinyl edition of what may well be the Rosetta Stone of the Japanese underground, Group Ongaku’s incredible 1960/61 (!) recording, Music Of Group Ongaku. Ongaku was a pre-Taj Mahal Travellers/East Bionic Symphonia/Marginal Consort avant garde/free improvising unit that featured Takehisa Kosugi of Taj Mahal Travellers on violin, saxophone and tape, Yasunao Tone on saxophone and tape, Chieko Shiomi on piano, Mikio Tojima on cello, Genichi Tsuge on guitar and Shukou Mizuno on cello, drums and tape. Putting these recordings in some kind of historical context is nigh on impossible – there isn’t any! This is pre-Beatles, pre-Rock, pre-Free Jazz and yet it sounds as if it could have been recorded this year. Forming in 1958, Ongaku were primarily influenced by the avant garde strategies of Cage, Stockhausen and the Fluxus movement but they quickly extrapolated those thinkers’ aleatoric approaches and concrete strategies into a form of instant, communal composition that pretty much set the seeds for much of what was to come in their wake. There are two sessions featured on the album, which was originally available in an elusive CD edition back in the day. The first side features recordings made at Mizuno’s house in May 1960 while the flip features two pieces recorded live in concert at Sogetsu Kaikan Hall in Tokyo in September of 1961. The sound combines aspects of jarring tape work with free saxophone blurt, long passages of nocturnal drone, Industrial percussion, strange vortices of strings, psych/noise guitar and a dosed/peaking atmosphere that is deeply psychedelic. In these grooves you can hear the first of echoes of what would become the whole Alchemy/PSF aesthetic while joining the dots between all of your favourite Nurse With Wound listees. Indeed it has been described as “sounding like the COMPLETE Nurse With Wound List playing at once... and when you realize that said posse includes Airway, Cromagnon, Don Bradshaw Leather & Throbbing Gristle among its formidable ranks, then one must understand that what is passing between their ears is an aural Excalibur of avant/experimental freakdom that almost no one knew existed.” A massively potent unearthing of some of the most historically confounding avant/drone/tapework ever to escape the prodigious gravity of the Japanese underground and a vital addition to any shelf. Hard to imagine any reissue topping this one all year. Edition of 300 copies. Highest possible recommendation!