Monthly Archives: June 2022

Kazuki Tomokawa 3CD Box

Kazuki Tomokawa 3CD Box “1975-1977” Blank Forms

A poet, soothsayer, bicycle race tipster, actor, prolific drinker, self-taught guitarist, and living legend of Japanese sound, Kazuki Tomokawa catapulted into Tokyo’s avant-folk scene in the mid-1970s, forging a sound and sensibility marked by throat-wrenching vocals and searing ennui. Among his musical peers in postwar Japan, Tomokawa distinguished himself  as a pioneer of radical individualism. He had “the personality of a hydrogen bomb”—as the notorious ultraleft band the Brain Police once put it—and a sound to match. Now, Blank Forms Editions gathers Tomokawa’s earliest records for the first time in a deluxe three CD boxed set comprised of Finally, His First Album (Harvest Records, 1975), Straight from the Throat (Harvest Records, 1976), and A String of Paper Cranes Clenched between My Teeth (Harvest Records, 1977).

In each record, Tomokawa shouts, cries, wails, and croons, his folk stylings tinged with psychedelia and swelling into ground-shaking rock. Many tracks are performed in his native Akita dialect, a highly regional vernacular of north Japan rarely heard beyond the prefecture, and even less often used in music. Matching his guttural, all-out vocals are profoundly existential meditations on everyday life and the world around him; this is, as record executive Kiichi Takara dubs it, “I-music.” It looks toward the interior, the quotidian, and the domestic with piercing and ever-honest eyes. 

The accompanying liner notes (here translated for the first time) include introductions by Takara, a round table discussion with Brain Police, and lyrics for all three albums—tracking the rise of Tomokawa as the “screaming philosopher” of Japan. The boxed set will be in conjunction with the release of each record in LP format in 2022, and the musician’s 2015 memoir, Try Saying You’re Alive! (Blank Forms Editions, 2021), the first-ever English translation of his prose; together they provide the definitive introduction to the singular world of Kazuki Tomokawa.

$45

C.I.A Debutante LP

C.I.A Debutante LP Dust – Siltbreeze

Second album on Siltbreeze the CIA Debutante duo – formed by Paul Bonnet (Disposition Matrix) and Nathan Roche (Le Villejuif Underground)

Dust finds our heroes at the top of their game; the captivating je ne sais quoi formed around vocal recitation & percolating electronics has been honed to perfection, moving them beyond whatever references were made in the past into a catagorization where they are known as ‘Themselves’.

$24

Aunt Sally (Phew) CD

Aunt Sally CD Aunt Sally – Mesh Key

4-panel digipak CD edition of Aunt Sally’s studio album. Fully remastered from the original analog tapes for CD release

This seminal, eponymous post-punk album by Japanese group Aunt Sally, fronted by experimental singer Phew, was first released by the iconic Vanity Records label in 1979. Over the past forty-plus years, Phew has forged a singular path through a wide range of styles – from free improvisation to pop – and has collaborated with the likes of Ryuichi Sakamoto, members of Can, DAF, Einstürzende Neubauten, The Raincoats and more. But Aunt Sally is where she got her start and, despite the members’ young ages (still in college at the time), Phew and the band delivered a mature, timeless take on minimalistic punk. 

$18