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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rock Joint Biwa (Furukotofumi), Japan *** REISSUED ***





4/8/11 update: Will be reissued by Sony Japan on 5/25/2011.

Folks, I just received a detailed letter from Rob, giving me many more details about this release. Turns out Fulukotofumi is not the name of the band - or even the correct name. It's listed this way in Pokora and Cope's books, as well as the back of the LP itself, but we now have new facts. At the bottom of this post, I've included Rob's outstanding research. I will leave the Fulukotofumi name as a label tag, as that's how most folks will search for this album. As well, we have a new album to look for!

Rock Joint Biwa - Kumikyoku: Furukotofumi. 1972 RCA Victor 4-Channel "QuadraDisc" (R4J-7015)

So here's part 2 of our Japanese rare LP journey. And, perhaps unbelievably so, we have another startling winner!

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.

Like yesterday'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.

Priority: 2

The below is Rob'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)
Tamaki Quartet

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."

Wow.

Track list (Thanks Rob):

Side 1:

1 Ame No Iwayado
2 Hayabusawake To Medori No Ohokimi
3 Ashiharashikoo
4 Uruwashito Sanekashisaneteba

Side 2:

1 Kamayamatoiwarehiko
2 Koe No Kawa
3 Ana Ni Yashie O Tome O
4 Watashimi No Irokonomiya
5 Yamatoshiuruhashi

4 comments:

Bill said...

You're spot on about Japan being sort of the last frontier for undiscovered psych gold and while I always hold out hope that some good stuff might be unearthed elsewhere (UK, America, Latin America, Italy, Germany...) its Japan where I believe the odds are best.
Anyway, a nice discovery here... and yesterday!

nnknsh said...

Of the personnel Rob provided,

correct spelling for
Shiro Miyake
should be,
Shiho Miyake

Hirasama Suzuki Trio
should be,
Hiromasa Suzuki Trio

and
Suzuki Takehisa
should be
Takehisa Suzuki
(Suzuki is the family name)

I have no information on who Shiho Miyake is, but the "rock" members are actually session musicians with Jazz back ground (many of them came from Akira Ishikawa's band Count Buffalos).

Tom said...

Thanks Nobuhisa for the corrections and Bill for the comments!

Bacoso said...

Thanks for this mine of information.
These are already sold out at dustygroove and look to be shifting fast on ebay - I ordered the pair from cdjapan.Now waiting in great anticipation for them to arrive.