Black Stage — Black Stage
(Maboroshi MABO-005, 1996, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1999-01-01
This is a project featuring Keiji Haino (electric guitar, flute, harp, voice), Natsuki Kido (acoustic guitar), and Yuji Katsui (violin) that – despite its release date – was recorded live in September 1994. The latter two names should be recognized by Exposé readers from the then and current lineup of Bondage Fruit, while Keiji Haino has stellar credentials including a long string of live and studio solo albums as well as albums with his bands Fushitsusha and Vajra, and numerous collaborations – a primary mover in the Japanese new music scene. This disc is basically three long improvisations, the first two well over twenty minutes each, all fairly avant-garde workouts, with elements of jazz (mostly via Kido's Coryell-esque acoustic guitar) and chamber (Katsui's violin contribution) surfacing, and showing regular flashes of brilliance amid the stop, sputter, and go of each of these pieces. They seem to have some trouble keeping their flights airborne for any extended period of time, which becomes tiresome, though sometimes listening to the three musicians search furiously for some kind of common thread gives a rare insight into the improvisational process. Vocals on the second piece are a bit stark, tortured, and pretentious sounding, though one who understands Japanese may get more out of them than this reviewer did. The third and final track is the most together of the three, with several spirited instrumental exchanges condensed into its ten minute running time. Overall, though this tends to be pretty disjointed, difficult listening.
Phil May of The Pretty Things RIP – We were saddened to learn that Phil May, lead singer and founding member of The Pretty Things, has died at the age of 75. The band's 1968 album S.F. Sorrow is one of the enduring classics of the psychedelic era, and the group existed in various forms until finally retiring in 2018. » Read more
Jorge Santana RIP – Jorge Santana, noted guitarist, leader of the band Malo and brother to Carlos Santan, died on May 14 at the age of 68. Jorge and Carlos worked together on a number of occasions, though Jorge's career was centered around Malo, solo work, and with Fania All-Stars. » Read more
Shindig Festival Goes Lock-Down – Here's what they're saying: It's A Happening Thing! The Shindig! Magazine Lockdown Festival. In our days of no large gatherings of people, maybe it's still possible to have a music festival. Shindig! Magazine is giving it a go with a multi-artist streaming extravaganza on Saturday April 25. » Read more
Bill Rieflin RIP – The sad news reaches us today of Bill Rieflin's death. Rieflin was best known as a drummer in bands ranging from post-punk to industrial to indie-rock to progressive rock, including work with The Blackouts, Ministry, Nine Inch Nails, Swans, Land, and King Crimson. Rieflin had been battling cancer for several years, and succumbed to it on March 24. He was 59. » Read more