Up-Tight & Makoto Kawabata – S/T
Battlefield smoke, exploding galaxies, high speed jet chases, madmen being dragged into their own minds, various shaman dancing upon high mountains; all these images and more can be conjured up when hearing this genius collaboration between Japan’s own guerilla sonic attackers, Up-Tight, and the lead juggernaut guitar-god from the legendary Acid Mothers Temple (also from Japan).
Up-Tight and Acid Mothers Temple are both heavyweights in the still bubbling Japanese psychedelic scene and to combine these two forces onto one record is like having a hurricane and earthquake focus their energy onto one town. Who knows what could happen, apart from thunderous destruction? Each group play mainly intense fiery thick walls of cataclysmic clatter in long free-form jams that seem to pull influence from the hardest edge of acid rock. Although very unique in their own right, one might be able to detect hints of Hawkwind, The Pink Faeries, Blue Cheer, and other such tab- taking eardrum-piercers. As one might expect, this release is loud, and oh, is it ever loud.
Straight from the start of the album, a fuzzy atmosphere of feedback and distressed guitar shrieks set the mood by coating one’s ears like wet smoke. A slow, thumping bass drum and some reverb-rich vocals bring the listener deep into some sort of haunting, primal setting. After several minutes of this, one feels that they’re listening in on some deep jungle tribal ceremony and at any minute, General Kurtz might emerge from the foliage and toss a severed head at you, laughing. The title of this little number is “Rainy Day Woman #12 & 35”, making it one number, or one Rainy Day Woman, less than Dylan’s song. One might then assume that Up-Tight & Makoto are not only saying “everybody must get stoned” but everyone must go mad. Following this track, and in a smooth but also terrifying transition, is “The S.C.R.E.A.M (Walks with Munck)”. Which may be what one would hear if the famous Scream painting produced sound, from each blended, and morose color. If Edvard Munch heard this grinding, wailing and utterly mind shattering, bad trip of a song, he would probably agree.
The following track groans through like a front-end loader on shrooms. The bass is so heavy that most speakers can’t seem to handle it and respond by crackling incessantly. Towards the end, things start to calm down and continue in this trend into track four, “Where Does She Go?” Then the ghostly vocals return and the song builds and builds in throbbing, bass heavy, echo-drenched sonic fury as the beat speeds up and the song jumps into one of the two highlights of the record, a track called “Born to Fly”. The group kicks it into a mightily high gear and produce a real classic mind-warping acid rocker with gloriously blazing guitar solos, intense drumming and enough bone-shattering riffs to paralyze any within earshot. This track is worthy to be held up alongside any of the best work by either artist, as well as other timeless acid jams such as “Interstellar Overdrive”, “Brainstorm”, or “Phallus Dei”. This song clicks straight into the magnificent climax and ending track, “Collapsing”. This is the second highlight due to featuring some of the most powerful crashing and roaring guitar drones that may have ever been recorded, which sounds not unlike what one would expect reentry into the Earth’s atmosphere might sound if fed through a crispy tube-amp. After a few minutes of this baptism by fire, the song speeds up in an impressive blast of energy and the ears are treated to yet another victorious acid-washed freak-out jam. This song climbs and climbs in speed until it grinds into a halt during a mountainous peak, yet it refuses to die here. The guitars slow down some but still screech and flail while the drums crash all around behind them. If the record didn’t suddenly fade out at the point that it does, the track would have possibly continued its path of carnage until the instruments either broke or the studio ran out of tape, whatever would come first.
This entire record is a flood of sound, with trance-inducing drumming, atmospheric drones and entire skyscrapers of feedback produced by Up-Tight while Makoto cuts through this stew of sound with the sharp details of his intricate, non-forgiving incandescent anything-goes guitar playing. Both artists combine their sounds without changing or giving up any of their natural traits. Up-Tight maintain their sludgy primordial astral wanderings while Makoto, as usual, makes his guitar come alive and scream bloody murder, moan with lust, sob with confusion, and attack with cold, venomous needle-like teeth. This riverbed of various sounds at their maximum volumes could easily wash each other out and become nothing but static-saturated white noise, however, Makoto produced a brilliantly clear and swirling atmospheric mix that allows for all of the instruments to be heard and appreciated.
All of this, plus the artwork that references the back cover of the first Velvet Underground record leave the listener feeling like they’ve discovered some sort of lost artifact from some sort of alternate universe, where super-humans have mastered alchemy and telepathy through the use of music. This record truly demands to be experienced from start to finish. Give in.