Thursday, July 10, 2008

OUR FIRST FULL-LENGTH PRESENT: HIGH RISE's MASTERPIECE

Not much tops getting your face melted off by some hot new jamz sent to you by your pals, and that’s what happened to me in 1992 when LH expressed me a cassette tape of Japan’s HIGH RISE, a trio I’d never heard nor heard of up to that point. It was a tape of their new second record, “High Rise II”, and to say I was pleased with what I heard does little justice to the emotion. I couldn’t believe how crazed the guitars sounded, how high these guys were setting a new bar for garage psychedelia, how feedback had never sounded so over-the-top before – and that was just the 1-minute opening track “Cycle Goddess”. The mystery of this band from Tokyo & their “psychedelic speed freaks” mantra was irresistible, so I got in touch w/ them & actually conducted a mail interview for my fanzine at the time. English being a second language for these fellas, the interview revealed little, but I was already hooked on as a fan for life & remain so to this day.

Still, all told, “High Rise II” remains their masterpiece. The debut record “Psychedelic Speed Freaks” was also insane & wild distortion overload, but it suffered from a SOLGER-like sound that was more akin to a boombox recording than something you’d wanna bang your noggin to; the 3rd record “Dispersion” was just fine but leveled out the chaos a bit and branched the sound into the great improvisational beyond. Others built upon that one, but continued to be a bit less frenzied and more expansive than the first few. But this one – look out. Any true “punk” worth his punker stripes should be getting down with this record in a jiffy, because it’s one of the all-time howlers. The solos are so over-the-top distorted and the drums are caked with so much reverb, it’s a total maddening echo chamber filled with the ghosts of Greg Ginn, Davie Allen, Sterling Morrison, Stacey Sutherland and Grady Runyan. Vocals are pretty much an afterthought, but they are present on just about every track, it’s just that they're buried under the dense layers. There’s a 13-minute “Sister Ray”-meets-“Mother Sky” classic on here called “Pop Sicle” that became a staple of their live show, sort of their own “Black To Comm” & a knockout wailer you’ve got to hear. But mostly it’s just fast, fast, fast and rawer than raw. A stone classic disc that I’d recommend to anyone with a pulse and a tolerance for maximum volume. Now you can download it for free.

Download HIGH RISE - "High Rise II" LP (this is a zip file)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I do love this record. Does anybody know if Nanjo is still active? Give me High Rise over churn-it-out-by-the-yard tripe like AMT any day.

Anonymous said...

The live album that came out a few years later in a black cover is also well worth a purchase. There’s some overlap in ‘songs’ between that disc and this but the live album is louder and less muddy sounding but just as extreme as II if that makes sense. I agree with you about the other albums, mind you, once you’ve bought II, you’ll buy anything with their name on it no questions asked.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I dig the live one also. Nanjo has done stuff under the names Mainliner and Musica Transonic.
Check out the website here:
http://homepage2.nifty.com/highrise/highrise.html

sonicgg

Anonymous said...

Nice to see a diss of AMT. Overrated poseurs.

Paul said...

Thx for posting this. "Download it for free", yep; these Jap-bands were always a bit too much for me moneywise, so I never seriously dug in. But well, no such problems these days!

Anonymous said...

Anyone know about the original LP mix vs the CD reissue? I've heard they're significantly different...Narita made a killer solo CD for PSF in 2005. I completely agree about the worthlessness of AMT. Kawabata hit the ball out of the park once—on Mellow Out with Nanjo under the name Mainliner. Mason Jones told me that Nanjo origianlly wanted to call the band High Rise Two. He's since dropped out of sight and his bootleg video / porn site is gone too.