Exposé Online banner

J.A. Caesar — Kokkyou Junreika
(Belle Antique 061216, 1972/2006, CD)

Tenjo Sajiki / J.A. Caesar — Shintokomaru
(Belle Antique 061217, 1978/2006, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 1996-08-01

Kokkyou Junreika Cover artShintokomaru Cover art

J.A. Caesar – this is obviously not his real name – has been an enigmatic figure in Japanese rock and avant-garde music dating back to the early 70s. His music is impossible to categorize, each record being a radical departure from the previous, and up until earlier this year his records were impossible to find. These two albums, just reissued by Belle Antique, are very different from each other.

Kokkyou Junreika is clearly a product of the early 70s, the flavor is hard prog-rock mixed with psych, sort of a crude late-60s sort of production, and very unusual vocals. Since no credits are given in English, I can't be sure, but it sounds like we have a basic four-piece of guitar, bass, drums, and organ, with added percussion, along with a number of vocalists (lead male plus two or more female backing). The psychedelic rock basics are combined with a certain amount of role-playing on the part of the vocalists – a combination of near-operatic singing and spoken/shouted parts. The overall effect is powerful, albeit a little unrefined on the production side.

Eight years later, Shintokumaru exhibits far more refinement; that raw underground rock style has given way to a far more serious and theatrical style – in fact one is led to believe (based on booklet photos and overall feel of the music and dialog) that this is the musical score for a theatrical production of some type. Instrumentation involves some traditional Japanese instruments (biwa, shamisen, etc.) as well as rock instruments, and in general is very sparse, sometimes reminding of the first couple albums by Osamu Kitajima. Still a lot of spoken and operatic parts, hooting, shouting, and regular outbursts of great driving rock with searing guitar and violin. The heavy arpeggiated choral parts might even remind the listener of Magma at times. This is certainly an interesting listen, yet unless the listener is Japanese-fluent, one doesn't have a clue as to what's going on. Indeed this is one time when some information in the booklet, in English would have been helpful; still, it's great to finally be able to hear these obscure early Japanese artifacts.


Filed under: Reissues, Issue 10, 2006 releases, 1972 recordings, 1978 recordings

Related artist(s): Terahara Takaaki (J.A. Seazer / J.A. Caeser)

Latest news

2020-03-24
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

2020-03-17
Cruise to the Edge and Seaprog 2020 Festivals Postponed – The worldwide outbreak of the novel coronavirus has started to produce casualties in the music world, and festivals are not immune. We've had word that both the Cruise to the Edge (originally slated for March 27 - April 1) and Seaprog (originally June 5-7) have been postponed to later dates, with those dates to be announced. » Read more

2020-03-06
McCoy Typer RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of one of the most influential pianists in the history of jazz, McCoy Tyner. His tenure with John Coltrane in the early 60s includes some of the most treasured recordings of the era, including My Favorite Things and A Love Supreme. After leaving Coltrane's group, he had a long and successful solo career. He was 81. » Read more

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Garden Wall - Principium – Garden Wall are an Italian neo-prog four-piece who have recently released this, their first album. If the name of the band sounds familiar to you, recall Garden Wall was one of the names Genesis...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues