Hiromasa Suzuki - Rock Joint Biwa (Kumikyoku Fulukotofumi). 1972 Japan
I maintain that Japan is hiding the most buried treasure when talking underground rock from the 1970s. I'm still hearing about dozens of albums that almost no one has any data on. Whether or not they are truly what is purported remains to be seen and heard. I recall a similar experience when going on a deep sea expedition (in the early 1990s) through the Yugoslavian 70s scene, only to find a true few that really matched what was advertised.
Similar to T. Yokota's Primitive Community album, we are at the meeting place of rock and jazz. Except the all-instrumental Furukotofumi has a completely different sound than Yokota's bunch. Definitely not a mystical experience as Primitive Community is, yet there are some fascinating Japanese indigenous moments to behold - primarily used as interludes between songs. I'd say the scales are more tipped towards the jazz side here, but make no mistake, this clearly is psychedelic rock influenced throughout. Some fantastic electric guitar work, including at least one blazing acid solo (and mixed with a biwa no less) amongst other excellent amped up shredders. A definite early fusion vibe permeates as well, no doubt informed by the UK groups like Nucleus or Soft Machine. Rhodes, piano, violin and organ also get their turn in the solo spotlight. Even a little Bacharach-ian lounger, with some wonderful horn and string charts, soap opera organ and a nice toned down guitar rip. The highlight is the pounding drum, biwa and psychedelic wah wah guitar piece followed by the groovy horn charts, sax solo - and get this - all phased out ala Dieter Dirks in the Kosmische Kourier studio. There's a lot here to digest.
The below is my friend The AC's research. Fascinating stuff.
"Shiro Miyake (biwa)
Akira Ishikawa (wadaiko)
Hirasama Suzuki Trio
Kiyoshi Sugimoto (guitar)
Suzuki Takehisa (trumpet)
Takeru Muraoka (tenor sax)
Tadataka Nakazawa - (trumpet)
As you can see from the back cover, this "Fulukotofumi" name came from a mis-romanization on the LP itself. There is no "l" sound in Japanese, it's always a hard/trilled "r". They sound the same to the Japanese ear, so they often make that mistake when translating things. Whoever got the LP and submitted it to Pokora obviously could only read that bit of text on the jacket, so Pokora printed it like that in one of his books and the incorrect name spread around. The actual name as I printed it above means "Suite: Furukotofumi". The Furukotofumi is also known as the Kojiki, or the "record of ancient matters". It's the oldest known book in Japan (from around 600 or 700 AD) and is full of creation myths, poems and songs, etc. This album has the concept of fusing the spirit of Japanese mythology (primarily through the use of biwa as lead instrument) with jazz and "new rock" (as they liked to call it in Japan back then), so that's why the Kojiki is used as source material. It was released as one of those Victor 4-channel discs that were popular in Japan for a brief period, and was actually supposed to be the first of a series of these concept albums. Unfortunately, only one more was released. It came out in 1973 and is called "Rock Joint Sitar - Kumikyoku Silk Road". As you might guess, this one has the concept of fusing new music with ancient Indian and central Asian sounds, with sitar replacing the biwa. It features many of the same musicians as the first LP."
CD: 2011 Sony
A super rare album, that my buddy Heavyrock turned up in 2010. We made quite a splash about it in the CDRWL (which is now in the verbiage above), and not long after, here comes a CD reissue. From Sony no less!
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