The First of two albums from Junzo this year (the other is 'Portrait of Madeleine Elster', the original 'Sings' album was a live album a couple of years ago). As this one is subtitled on the cover as 'sings ballads of contemporary sadness, point of views and general love and depression'. you probably guessed that this is the song based album (the other one promises to be more universe-crushing guitar action). Like Jandek, Charalambides and Zaimph. Junzo not only follow the set traditions of folk, roots and blues but also engages in energised rule breaking of the conventions.
he starts off with some flittering guitar picking and throaty vocals on 'In The Eyes Of Naze' but then goes to the straight up beautiful lament of 'Midsummer's End'. Kawabata Makoto lends some distinctiviely wild guitar soloing to complement Junzo's emotional rhythm playing on 'Eclipse IV'.
Seasoned drummer Ikuro Takahashi manages to be as subtle and intricate as Junzo's guitar on 'Crying Out Double Suicide Blues'. Junzo sings barely above a whisper and the listener has to give it 100% to appreciate this one properly.'Lament for the Man Without A Map' would also be quite a mellow ballad were it not for the second guitar riffing wildly all over it. it could have been a bit of a crush but Junzo seems to know exactly what he can get away with and does not go any further.
'Dr Yt's hesitation' is a very brief interlude of ominous cosmic chug and then 'The End of Horizon' kicks off at quite a punkish pace with Ikuro Takahashi joining in to rock this out. It's a shock change of pace but it works perfectly and somehow flows with the album. Even at his most varied, Junzo knows how to construct and intelligent and thoughtful tracklist for this album. They exist as whole entries and the listener finds themselves compelled to listen to them that way.
'A Tree of Night' switches back to Junzo on his own crooming acoustically Auntumnal Lament. 'Shadows of Light' is then its electric guitar brother. 'Chi No Mure' sees Junzo conjuring empty city streets with his guitar, a bleak kind of beauty. It lasts a powerful twelve minutes. When the epic howls ends, 'The Man With The Golden Arm' comes comnclude things gently with Junzo using Silence almost as second instruments, like a Pinteresque touch where the pause says so much.
With Junzo's Music having two distinct sides to it, it's exciting to see them both being fully explored with a whole album devoted to each, i have yet to hear his extreme noise guitar album but I am delighted to report the song album is a real classic.
(Ned Netherwood from Was ist Das Co.uk)
Another record I found out about today. Suzuki Junzos record falls out of time and i find it really hard to describe. it's a strange mixture of fingerpicking folk, noisy guitar waves and psychedelic passages all with a japanese influence. the only artist that comes in my mind is Aritomo . There are so many records released every day and it's so rare to find something unique with a new approach. I don't think, that this is for everyone, but if you're open for something new you should give it a try. As soon as i find a preview, I'll add it to this post here.
(Ralph Etter on Sly Vinyl)
Guitarist of Miminokoto & sometime member of Overhang Party. He makes black metal growls over acoustic guitar, sings wrecked ballads over distorted electric leads. Guy is a darn good rock songwriter & easily builds tension until it boils over in a powerful cathartic release. Fans of Miminokoto, or generally of that Japanese underground thing where things are either fragile or superheavy will be extremely pleased. Only slip up is the drums, which're tiny & sad, but they're only on one track. Kawabata Makoto guests.
Unlike the mystery surrounding solo albums by drummers or bassists, there can only be one outcome when a guitarist releases a solo album: you know you're in for some top quality guitar work. In this instance, Suzuki Junzo (best known perhaps for his work with Overhang Party and Miminokoto) has upped the stakes a further notch by asking legendary Acid Mothers Temple guitarist Kawabata Makoto guests on a couple of tracks, including the outstanding ‘Eclipse IV' with glorious shards of electric feedback piercing the melancholic air. Several songs fall into the acid-folk bag, with tinkling cascades of crystalline guitars hovering over plaintive, echoing vocals, of which a personal favourite is the suitably hesitant ‘Midsummer's End'; ‘Crying Out Double Suicide Blues' however introduces the addition of drums and percussion, and the trio take off into VU territory with ‘End of Horizon'. Most of side 2 is taken up by the epic ‘Chi No Mure' which finds all of Suzuki Juno's fine muse gelling into a melancholy chant backed with (his own) splendid electric guitar work. I like this a lot.
(Phil Mcmullen of Terrascope.Co.Uk)
Junzo Suzuki's Voice winces and whimpers, splintered chords twang from acoustic guitars; and out of that expressive tangle a low-key song coalesces. "In the Eyes of Naze" sets the tone for this collection, subtitled Ballads Of Contemporary Sadness, Point of Views and General love and Depression. Suzuki is known as a guitarist and singer in the Japanese noise and psychedelic rock underground, performing with overhangparty and Miminokoto. But He grew up listening to Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and Skip James, and drew deep inspiration from droning lamentation and bittersweet voices of the blues. Although he doesn't remotely attempt to mimic their style himself, one track here is momorably entitled " Crying out double suicide blues" It's a Broading evocation of crepuscular Weltscmerz, reminiscent of loren Connors casting a blank stare into endlessly lonesome space.
The Strength of Sings II is that it was recorded over the course of seven years, so although Suzuki's mood doesn't really lighten, it's far from monotone. Doggedly solitary and desolate, he is nonthelesshelped out on some tracks by a variety of supportive guests, including former High Rise and Fushitsusha drummer Ikuro Takahashi and Acid mothers Temple Guitarist Makoto Kawabata. "The End of Horizon" oozes gritty resolve and punk brashness. the sombre and slow-burning "Chi no Mure" is swatched in Gothic gloom. "Lament for the Man Without the Map", on the other hand, quivers with a stylished vulnerablity. a hint of enka crooning among weeping guitars. (The Wire, Juilan Cowley)
Sings II , from Japanese psych guitarist Suzuki Junzo - Overhang Party, Miminokoto, 20 Guilders - on Nod and Smile Records , is an lp that I pull from my top shelf daily. Lustrous in the light as it revolves on the platter, once the needle drops the harvest instantly commences. Upon listening to it for the first time, Sings II emitted a beautiful, poignant and multifaceted vibe. It infused my room with an intriguing amalgamation of folk, blues, drone, american primitivism, and some fuzzed out shredding. This latest album from Junzo - not to be confused with the more guitar-centric album concurrently released on Utech , Portrait of Madeleine Elster - is song based; Junzo is joined on Sings II by Acid Mothers Temple guitarist, Kawabata Makoto; and LSD March/Kousokuya and ex Fushitsusha drummer, Takahashi Ikuro. Returning to the aforementioned harvest, Junzo bestows an array of tasty nugs to the listener's waiting head. There are myriad moments suffused on this lp that will please admirers of Robbie Basho, Jandek, Charalambides and Jim O'Rourke among others.
Side A begins with 'In the Eyes of Naze', which features rasping vocals and acoustic guitar that flickers. One of my favorites immediately follows, 'Midsummer's End', in which passages of crystalline finger-picked acoustic guitar and bluesy electric guitar are coupled with Junzo's affecting singing. One of the most attractive attributes of the record concerns Junzo's singing style, which is varied throughout. One feels the earth's plates shift upon Kawabata Makoto's fuzz guitar erupting in the next track, 'Eclipse IV'. Junzo's bleary, ringing guitar and captivating, soaring voice provide an apt companion to Makoto's blazing guitar. Languid blues covered in reverb are fleshed out by percussion and drums in the penultimate track on side A, 'Crying Out Double Suicide Blues'. Junzo's breathy vocals fit congruently to the hazy droning guitar.
Initially, it almost felt tangential, but the punk rock vibe and change of pace in side B opener 'The End of Horizon' exhibits the proficiency of the artist. For me, Sings II is analogous to the rotating earth. As Sings II rotates, the sun illuminates a particular area and something new and beautiful manifests, yet never departs from the album's aura. Directly following, 'A Tree of Night' sees Junzo return to gentle finger-picked guitar and restrained vocals. The longest track on the flipside, 'Chi No Mure', thrives on the lovely juxtaposition of sustained guitar and calm vocals. The guitar in the beginning has a dreamy, almost listless quality. Progressively the sound becomes more intense, sporadically joined by vocal growls. Before too long, the track ascends as a droning wall of sound abuts composed vocals - the quality of the vocals next to the blown out sound is one of my favorite things here. The energy of this track is such that one may perceive that it resonates in the body. Admirers of Steven R. Smith will enjoy this one. Lastly, 'The Man With The Golden Arm' is more minimal than that which precedes it. Breathy, soft vocals and sparse guitar notes emit intimate energy that extends faithfully until exhausted.
From the top shelf with love, this is highly recommended. Sings II , also available on cd, is released in an edition of 500 copies on black vinyl in a gatefold sleeve. It's available for an extremely affordable price from See of Sound .
peace and love, friends :)
Suzuki Junzo's fourth solo record was released on November 5th, 2013 on Nod And Smile Records (http://nodandsmilerecs.com). This is Suzuki's latest release filled with noise and endless blues. Featuring Acid Mother Temple guitarist Kawabata Makoto and LSD March/Kousokuya, ex. Fushitsusha Drummer Takahashi. With the opening track you are introduced into a world of layered vocals (belching, blowing air, screeching of the throat), guitar and noise. With the mixture of vocals and guitar in this track may not bet an easy listening experience for some , but none the less it is a great intro track to know what the album is intended to be. The next track, Midsummer's End was the first and only released track by Suzuki, before the album was released. A beautiful acoustic song with subtle semi deep vocals sung in japanese (as the rest of the lyrics are sung) which can remind one of a drunken performance in 1971, but with soul. Third track, Eclipse IV, consists of his trademark psychedelic approach of writing. With a great riff and beautifully orchestrated guitar noise.A journey begins as the sonic force enters the third eye and resonates throughout. Now onto the 4th track, Crying Out Double Suicide Blues. Now this song portrays Suzuki's talent of combing Blues to drone/noise. A remarkable track that leaves one with the blues and an endless realm of thought. The 5th Track, Lament For The Man Without A Map is a nice track that, again shows his great song writing with an acoustic ,semi heavy reverbed distorted guitars laying down leads with well thought out, or not, noise and feedback, and again a subtle semi deep vocals to deepen the song. A nice close to Side A of the Lp. Now onto side B opens with the track The End of Horizon. The first riff is a crushing 60's/early 70's psychedelic influenced Can type vibe. Overall the song is a great homage to one of the most experimental and innovative times within music The next track Tree of night is a bright acoustic track that captures your thought quite well with the beautifully recorded guitar. The tone of the acoustic sticks out and resonates with you through the whole song. Next up is the long one of the album, starting with a poorly tuned guitar, but then layered with feedback and overtones which will drone your mind into oblivion. On top of that, haunting vocals lie in the background giving more to the atmosphere. Nicely sung vocals over this one as well. Overall it is a trip to the dark corridors of your mind with a guiding light. The closing track is entitled The Man With The Golden Arm. At the start his deep vocals enter with a guitar guided by them. The percussion in the song is very jazz oriented consisting of ghost notes and lightly hit cymbals. With this last track, it ends up leaving you with the blues to complete the conjuring of Suzuki Junzo's Sings II. This album is nothing, but pure amazing experimental music for one who appreciates such art. It is not overdone, and its simplicity is perfect for almost anyone to engage and find something they would like, or even love. Please take the time to check Suzuki Junzo out. He is an extraordinary, humble, and versatile musician who deserves at least a listen. With that being said I give this album a 10/10. Suzuki also has another release coming out in December on Utech Records . He will also be hitting the Utech Records festival in December. So be on the look out and if you can go, please do see him live. Here are some links for more information about Suzuki Junzo and to buy the album:
-Anthony Miller of For the love Of Noise
The heavy psych/rock scene in Japan is streaking ahead of any other, with acts like Fushitsusha and Acid Mothers Temple producing music of effortlessly visceral ? not to mention loud ? weirdness. Julian Cope once dedicated an entire compilation to the scene, appropriately titled Nihon Nihilist, which grouped together luminaries past and present such as J.A. Caesar, Les Rallizes Denudes and Kousokuya. Add to that the resurgence of Mainliner and the ongoing vitality of the Land of the Rising Sun's noise scene, as well as a seemingly innate ability to meld and blend genres such as folk, drone and the avant-garde, and it's clear that Japan is the place to go if you like your sounds hard, trippy or unfathomable, sometimes all three at once.
Suzuki Junzo is a lesser-known Japanese artist who nonetheless seems to encapsulate all of the above on Sings II: Sings Ballads of Contemporary Sadness, Point of Views and General Love and Depression , a strange hybrid of an album that takes in just about every form of music imaginable that isn't electronic or hip-hop. The album's core crosses American blues and folk, refracting both through an arcane spirit that recalls Loren Connors and Bill Orcutt. “In the Eyes of Naze” opens the album with bizarre choked hiccups, inhalations and gasps from Junzo over prickly, close-miked finger-picking. It's as if he's popping out a ballad whilst dragging on a joint. The track's sweet central melody is intermittently subsumed by the strange ululations of its creator, building a potent tension. Again, Bill Orcutt's primitivist approach to the blues springs to mind. Elsewhere, however, Junzo is more straight-forward. “Missummer's End” and “A Tree of Night'” are charming if unsurprising acoustic ballads in the style of Jackson C. Clark.
Sings II turns meatiest in three central workouts, two of them placed back-to-back in the running order. “Eclipse IV” swamps Junzo's subdued, morose vocals in screaming electric guitar lines. The cut nudges into Rallizes territory with piercing feedback and open-ended solos, and Connors' Long Nights is a probable reference point. The wonderfully-named “Crying Out Double Suicide Blues” is more circumspect, the guitars moaning wistfully in the background and Junzo's vocals reduced to sparse interjections around bleak moments of introspection. If any track inhabits the album's morose subtitle, it's “Crying Out Double Suicide Blues.”
At double those two tracks' length, and arriving after a handful that feel a bit like filler, “Chi No Mure” towers over the rest of Sings II . It condenses into 12 minutes everything that Suzuki Junzo has been trying to express on the nine previous pieces. It starts nondescriptly. A chugging riff repeats for several minutes before being joined by unsettling vocal eructations that sound like black metal samples. A guitar drone builds slowly to subsume the track in baleful noise. Again, one thinks of Loren Connors and Acid Mothers Temple, and Junzo expertly balances trippy psychedelia with abstract noise. “Chi No Mure” ends in a blissful climax, from which the calm, acoustic waters of closer “The Man with the Golden Arm” are the only possible respite.
Joseph Burnett on Dusted Magazine