Jordan Mamone emailed me the news of the passing at age 50 of Masashi Kitamura recently, a major visionary in Japan's underground music scene from the 1970's to present. Kitamura was founder of the great band YBO2 ("Ibo Ibo") which served as a home to various members of well known later groups like Zeni Geva, Ruins, and Ghost. He was also the publisher of Fool's Mate magazine, which connected the dots between prog and punk and was massively influential in the late 1970's and early 80's, and also ran several influential labels like SSE, Eastern Works/Chaos Records, and Trans Records which were all instrumental in the first releases by the Boredoms, Merzbow, and Ruins. His presence in the scene will be missed greatly, and I hope someone takes up the slack and focuses on getting a good YBO2 catalog retrospective happening stateside. They are long overdue. In some ways, YBO2 were a mirror of sorts to what was going on in early 1980's NYC with Swans, Sonic Youth etc., but bringing in some bent prog elements to their punk noise that NYC probably was hoping to forget at the time. Needless to say, KK Null helped mutate those ingredients beyond belief with his way-ahead-of-its-time guitar pyrotechnics. Here's some real Audio of "Dogla Magala II" from the Dead Tech compilation LP. You Tube video of the same song as well!
In other Japan-related (though not necessarily Kitamura-related),You Tube is really starting to deliver the goods from the Land of the Rising Sun. There's Gedou, the somewhat glammed predecessors to the King Brothers kicking out the jams (thanks to Tom Lax and the unknown listener who both sent this link to me), plus absolute legends Les Rallizes Denudes live in 1976 and also 1967 spraying shards of Sister Ray feedback everywhere. Also snagged a few choice MP3s, the first from Murahachibu's Live Mitasai record from 1972 (MP3), a chunky blast of amped-up Stones-meets MC5/Stooge action. Plus, Mark Morgan hepped me to a 1971 live track from Datetenyru (translated: "cool flying dragon"); they were a Kansai prog-psych outfit whose studio records haven't done much for me, but totally slayed live it seems (MP3). Cities On Flame With Rock and Roll blog has the whole LP here too. Finally, on a quieter side, I was going to save this one for a post on some Japanese 70's folk MP3s, but it's too good to wait. Sachiko Kanenobu's folk stylings were very much based in West Coast USA foundation while incorporating all kinds of global vibes in a totally pure way. Her 1972 debut Misora (produced by and featuring a young Haruomi Hosono of Yellow Magic Orchestra) was a very different kind of approach for a female singer-songwriter in Japan, and just as it looked like she was hopping the fame train, she left to live stateside with her American husband and left the music scene behind. Of all people, it was author Philip K. Dick who encouraged her to get back into music in the 1980's (he was even slated to produce her album before he died!), and now Australia's Chapter Music has reissed the classic Misora. Check out "Leave It To Time" (MP3), gorgeous stuff.