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

2018-10-17
Eurock Documentary Seeks Funding – We've been fans and fellow travelers with Archie Patterson and his Eurock project on the journey to discover great music. After many years of promoting and trying to spread the word,a new phase is beginning: a documentary film. Things like this don't just happen, and money does not magically appear to make it happen, so it's up to the fans to get it done. » Read more

2018-09-29
Marty Balin RIP – One of the architects of the 60s psychedelic sound of San Francisco has died at the age of 76. Marty Balin was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was one of the founders of Jefferson Airplane. After the split of the original Airplane, Balin went on to form the highly successful Jefferson Starship. » Read more

2018-09-25
Help the Psychic Equalizer Avoid Extinction – Last year we reviewed the debut album by Psychic Equalizer, a musical project of Hugo Selles. He's now working on the ambitious follow-up to that release, and is seeking funding from listeners around the world. » Read more

2018-09-05
Krautrock Documentary Seeks Funding – The next installment of the Progressive Warriors documentary series will focus on the vast body of music that falls under the banner of "krautrock." As most of our readers will know, previous films have tackled RIO and the Canterbury scene, as well as what we might call "mainstream" prog rock. » Read more

2018-07-31
Tomasz Stańko RIP – Tomasz Stańko, one of the greats of Eastern European jazz, has died at the age of 76. Stańko's career started in Krzysztof Komeda's quintet, where he contributed trumpet from 1963-1967, when he formed his own group. He worked extensively with Edward Vesala, Don Cherry, Zbigniew Seifert, Chico Freeman, Howard Johnson, Cecil Taylor, and many others. Many of his recordings have been released by ECM, an association that began in the mid-70s. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Hidria Spacefolk - Symbiosis – I’m not going to compare Hidria Spacefolk to Ozric Tentacles – I’d rather listen to Symbiosis again (well, so much for that plan). Anyway, I’m happy to report that Space Rock is alive and...  (2003) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues