Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Suishou No Fune & Maher Shalal Hash Baz @ Silver Elephant

by craig

I saw Maher Shalal Hash Baz a few months ago play at Koenji High to a tiny crowd. They were playing with Doronco Gumo. C'mon, Doronco was in Les Rallizes Denudes!! Why wasn't anyone there?

Last night MSHB played with another legendary psych band, this time Suishou No Fune, and there were only about 12 people there!! Nevertheless, I still felt I was witnessing something special. Incense was burning, the lights were down low and smoke machines were pumping haze into the Silver Elephant in Kichijoji. Pirako, dressed in a dark cape-like coat and a black beret, and Kageo, in black clothes and sunglasses came on stage, causing no reaction from the serious lone guys who made up the audience. They were joined by a bass player and drummer who added some rhythm to the mainly guitar-and-vocal-only sound I'm used to hearing on their recordings. Pirako and Kageo applied their massive collection of effects pedals to creating a huge guitar wash saturated in delay, feedback, and a perfect control of volume. They played 4 or 5 songs of over 10 minutes each and punctuated by Pirako's high and Kageo's low poetic droning vocals. They've taken the best parts of Japanese psych like Fushitsusha, noise artists like Haino Keiji, elements of psych-folk, improvised music, shamanism and shadows and created a beautiful melancholy sound that could have existed at any time in the last 30 years.

You never know what to expect with Tori Kudo and his band of constantly-changing members known as Maher Shalal Hash Baz. If he's in the right mood and has the right people to do the things he demands them to do, something beautiful can be created. But sometimes it all just falls apart. At that gig a few months back, things weren't working. He attempted a bunch of ridiculously short songs which he gave up on half way through. The band didn't know what he expected of them. Tori often has a concept for each show and scribbles down compositions which he hands to the amateur musicians he has assembled for that show. Where he finds all these musicians is something I've always wondered. Last night he had collected a bassoon player (from Doromco Gumo), an accordionist, a drummer, two guys on trumpet and one on sax and it really worked! Tori had decided to play long psych songs focusing more on the guitar than usual, perhaps because they were playing with Suishou No Fune? He still of course abruptly ended each song when he became tired of it, stumbled (intentionally?) on the guitar and sang in his trademark child-like avant-savant manner, with the other members sounding like a primary school orchestra. You see so many tight, highly-skilled bands of musicians who have burned out all their ideas and cannot offer anything original. Tori knows that surprisingly creative and interesting things happen with people who are not concentrating on skill. That's what punk is supposed to be about, right? MSHB finished their set with an incredible shambolic version of Close To You by the Carpenters!

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Blogger trail said...

Yeah, Suishou are good when they're on their day, Kudo is more of an idea rather than actual music, but the point is that interesting stuff of value doesn't get any love in this city because everything's based on relationships rather than merit, and on how good of an asslicker you can be

The majority of the bands here majorly suck when you get down to it (which is pretty much true everywhere), but at least when a band really lays it down in other countries there are people who are big enough to admit it

12:48 pm, December 10, 2008  

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