2LP co-release with Cardinal Fuzz
Release Date – May 19th, 2023 – Preorder available –
Originally released via Steve Krakow’s Galactic Zoo Dosier Label on CDr. Here via Cardinal Fuzz and Feeding Tube Records is the 2xLP edition
Bass – Takashi Ogata
Drone, Guitar, Written-By, Producer, Mixed By – Makoto Kawabata
Drums – Takashi Shirahata
Guitar, Vocals – Tomoyuki Aoki
Written-By – Up-Tight
I won’t revamp Up-Tight’s credentials here. Their heavy but crystal-clear monster riffage and high-frequency scree has quickly become the stuff of legend, and the group’s place at the forefront of the new Japanese psych scene has been well established at least since the massive and deservedly lauded Five Psychedelic Pieces, even earlier for those in the know. Last year’s Lucretia only broadened the pallet and deepened the rumble, as this power trio embraced epic noise, rhythmic drone and acid-soaked balladry. Similarly, Acid Mothers Temple guitarist and prolific solo artist Makoto Kawabata needs no introduction, his own versatile brand of psych-bludgeoning having been ingested ravenously since 1997.
Stunningly, this new collaborative effort pushes things forward, even the volume. It seems inconceivable, between listens, that such a tangibly satisfying squall can emerge from such a small piece of plastic, but this just might be both artists’ loudest offering so far, possibly equaled by select moments from Up-Tight’s 2003 live CD-R.
The barrage emerges from nothing, swells, peaks, subsides slightly, then peaks repeatedly, only to disappear some 70 minutes later, leaving in its wake the strange feeling it had never existed. Don’t approach this one expecting any of the beautiful crooners from past Up-Tight efforts. From “Rainy Day Girl #12&35”’s hypnotically orchestrated drone intro, Kawabata’s gong-homage guitar soaring over the shattered and lugubrious remnants of power chords, sweet obliteration is the order of the day. Only “Where Does she Go” provides a few moments respite, but electricity surges and crackles just beneath the surface of the quietest moments.
Kawabata’s production is a marvel; no matter how loud or distorted things get, drummer Shirahata’s multi-timbral workouts are always clear and precise. In fact, no Up-Tight or AMT disc has ever sounded quite this good, even in moments of the most mind-bending tortuousness; sample the head-fuck bombs and splatter of “The Scat singer at the Gate of Midnight” or the sickeningly liberating yells of “The S.C.R.E.A.M. Walks with Monk” for an idea of the treasures hidden in each mix. Sumptuous stereo placement keeps every layer of Aoki’s guitar and vocals clear, while Ogata blurts, thumps and rumbles beneath.
I can only envy the folks who get to see Up-Tight as they tour the States for the first time. If you’re not among those fortunates, this disc will provide adequate consolation.
By Marc Medwin
Flattening new release from one of the greatest live psych groups in the world. Anyone who witnessed their monolithically powerful set at Instal 2005 needs this incredible disc, one of the most epic and dynamically damaged post-Velvets acid rock re-thinks in recent memory. The addition of Acid Mothers Temple guitarist Makoto Kawabata brings an even darker/more elegantly fucked sensibility, with the result that every track feels like it could explode into narcotic chaos at any moment. Aoki’s vocals strike the perfect post-Reed/Verlaine/Hell level of decadent damage and the songs are just beautifully rendered, with the group stretching mantric rock forms into whole new zones of affirmative electric beauty. Fuck. Highest recommendation. Comes with great Velvet Underground rip-off sleeve, too.
The dark shadows cast by this underground Tokyo psych trio have been getting longer of late. We’ve had two cds from them, both of ’em well-received by the AQ community (the excellent US release Five Psychedelic Pieces on Static Records, and then the maybe even better Lucrezia on Japan’s Alchemy label), and some of us here were also just lucky enough to get to witness the power and intensity of Up-Tight’s live show when they played in San Francisco quite recently, bringing their melanchoic vox, mantric drum beating, rigid bass pulsations, and guitar-heavy sadness and squall to the tight confines of the Hemlock. As displayed there, Up-Tight’s sunglasses-at-night music is aligned with the likes of current Tokyo scene brethren LSD-March in worship of ’70s Japanese distorto-psych legends Les Rallizes Denudes, and that’s nothin’ but a good thing. So another new Up-Tight document is cause for excitement. That this one also features the guitar and drones of Acid Mothers Temple beardlord Kawabata Makoto, is only the icing on a rather heavy cake. Jamming together on such co-compositions as “The Scat Singer At The Gate Of Midnight” (?) and “Rainy Day Girl #12 & 35”, the Up-Tight/Kawabata alliance turns in a particularily anguished, feedback-filled set. Demons being exorcised here for sure. It’s noisy and droney and dark, and the presence of guest guru Kawabata only further stimulates the spirits of Les Rallizes that swirl about Up-Tight’s amps. Sure Up-Tight have their softer side, but with Kawabata on board, it’s the destructive jet engine guitar sound that gets emphasized! AMT fans who haven’t heard Up-Tight (but like the harsher, “Electric Heavyland” side of Kawabata’s output) will happily “Mellow Out” to this! Produced and mixed by Kawabata as well, for maximum void-dwelling clangor. It’s a limited edition disc, too, we’re told…
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.
Apex On Line
incredible garage-psych from Japan with the addition of Makoto Kawabata – at their most structured Up-tight sound like the Velvet Underground unanchored from Lou Reed’s pop sensibilities, at their wildest they rip the dark heart of garage rock to shreds.