Return of the Japanese Juggernaut

Otomo Yoshihide is a man who can do absolutely no wrong for me. Here’s a startling newie called Multiple Otomo (ASPHODEL ASP 3007), resultant from a project of the same name, comprising one audio CD and one DVD mounted in a luxury foldout pack (which can also be used as a sandwich box during your lunch hour). Note how the title of this one likens Otomo to Multi-Man, my favourite one of the 1966 Hanna-Barbera cartoon crime-fighting troupe The Impossibles (who were also a beat combo). And rightly so. Judging by track titles, this is an exhaustive aural and visual document of the nine types of merry heck which this Jaunty Japanese Juggernaut wreaks when faced with the tempting prospect of an open turntable and a disposable slice of vinyl. Other objects brought into play include guitars, violin bows, needles, coins, temporary styluses (styli), and feedback. Some dissenting listeners doubt that feedback is an ‘object’, but will they ever eat their words when they find out what my main man Otomo can do with it! Slurp! I’m slavering at the prospect of letting these beasts near my requisite playback devices, consequence of which dangerous action might be a simultaneous explosion of both discs and a hail of plastic shards painfully embedded in my “mush”.

Also from Dense distrib in Berlin (who sent the above), the brand-new Nadja release touched (ALIEN8 ALIENCD67). Great! I still continue to rave about their debut CD Truth Becomes Death to anyone who’ll listen, often receiving an affirmative response of ‘It’s already in my iPod!’ from total strangers I greet on the bus. Nadja is a two-person act of which the principal bod Aidan Baker is a poet and visual artist who also plays a lot of guitar and a lot of keyboard. Like the evil twin of Bill Nelson, he overdubs and distorts his sound into a glorious sluggish swamp of poignant tragedy, with tons of low-frequency bottom end. This band have made stoner rock into an art form! Nadja’s heartfelt tribute to the Golem legend reduces grown men to blubbering infants, so I’m expecting similar episodes of intense catharsis in the TSP household when this is spun.

Ghost Storeys (COCOSOLIDCITI CSC014) by David Kristian may prove worthwhile. It’s electronic music produced through co-operation with a Manga animator, Ryosuke Aoike. The release has been rewarded with audiophile treatment (ie it’s in 5.1 Surround format), suggesting Kristian is an accomplished creator of lush studio constructs on a par with, erm…Alan Parsons. Gotta admit that Manga / Anime is one of my cultural blind spots, though.

K K Null releases Fertile (TO:74) on Mike Harding’s Touch label this month, a most apt title for this time of year as we enter the time of renewal. His participation in Number One (an earlier, fascinating Touch project with Chris Watson and Z’EV) delivered extremely rewarding results, despite or perhaps because of the widely divergent interests of those three creative dynamos. Although he enjoys notoriety as a veteran of merciless guitar-grinding noise, Null is also an extremely able sound-art creator when he gets behind the desk and the knobs, particularly imaginative when reworking electronica and beat music in his own warped image. Let’s keep it fertile, Myrtle!

A similarly wide-ranging array of talent has been packed into the corporeal frame of Erdem Helvacioglu from Istanbul, a composer, sound designer, arranger and producer whose Altered Realities (NA131) has recently emerged like fragrant sap from a broken bough on the New Albion Records label. His six-page CV contains an impressive history of appearances and releases, and makes me wonder how he so long managed to elude discovery from the TSP radar. You can sample a sumptuous track from this beaut at the NAR website. I’m guessing that it’s seven tracks of processed solo guitar works in a studio, but filled with a luminescence not encountered since Portuguese guitarist Rafael Toral.

Everyone’s favourite Norwegian Lasse Marhaug is back with another Jazzkammer project, which is him plus fellow countryman John Hegre. For this release, they’re called Jazkamer and the record (whose silly name I am not inclined to repeat here) arrived from the Czech Republic, on Petr Frint’s PURPLESOIL label. Often waved aside (or even welcomed) by lazy journalists as ‘Norwegian Noise’, as if that term explained anything, the work of Marhaug is usually in fact far more richly complex and diverse. Absurdist playful titles like ‘Tentacles of Broken Teeth’ and ‘Blues for Sterling Hayden’ can only strengthen the confidence of any potential purchaser here.

Five mega-groovester CDs of US free folk, neo-gnostic droning paganism and swirling abstractamoid psych-music from the Digitalis Industries label in Tulsa, Oklahoma. That’s my wild guess, at any rate. Of these, softwar (DIG039) features the great Loren Chasse and other luminaries from the so-called ‘Jewelled Antler’ scene of quiet, low-key improv and acoustic thunkery. In the foldout cover, several young people form a makeshift circle and prevent a tent from flying away. It’s an image which somehow implies more than it shows. Other impenetrable CDR-ish items in the envelope were The Holy See by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Jim Reed; CHAOB (FOXGLOVE 148) featuring various youngsters recorded in Portland Oregon; and Time on Wings of Spit by Grey Park. These are wrapped in wallpaper offcuts or colour photocopies, adding somehow to their strange aura. Also there’s a mystical-looking record which reveals that The Stones Know Everything, a metaphysical insight accredited to Fabio Orsi and Gianluca Becuzzi. Many levels of intrigue to investigate here.