My first exposure to Japanese psych trio UP-TIGHT (sic) was at the Instal '05 festival in Glasgow. As soon as their set (their first outside Japan) finished, I ran to the merchandise stall and snapped up the three of their albums available, with little regard for financial reason, fired as I was with rock'n'roll enthusiasm. That's not to say that their set displayed anything hugely innovative ? in fact they are one of the most traditional, even archetypal examples of the genre I have heard. While, for example, Acid Mothers Temple embark on increasingly epic and baroque expeditions into deep space, UP-TIGHT are the closest I have encountered to that legendary and mysterious mother lode of Japanese psych, Les Rallizes Denudes. Fushitsusha can be heard operating in a similar style on their double debut, but Keiji Haino's apocalyptic intensity soon ripped the conventional rock structures of that album wide open. UP-TIGHT also remind me of Crazy Horse, with the rhythm section's uncluttered grooves underpinning the hard-edged, feedback-laced lead guitar.
Singer/guitarist Tomoyuki Aoki appears almost like an archetype of the Jap-psych frontman, in Raybans and leather trousers and wielding an SG. Onstage, I was excited by what I perceived as a certain youthful brattishness, an impression dispelled when I later saw the singer remove his shades to reveal he was more advanced in years than I had thought.
"Lucrezia" is the most song-orientated of their records that I've heard, in contrast to the more improvised material on "Five Psychedelic Pieces" and "Produced by Kawabata Makoto". Opener "Song for Lucrezia I" is a one chord throb that rests firmly in the hallowed tradition of the Velvets-Spacemen 3 continuum. The following "Cool Eyes" is beautiful and heartbreaking ? think "Cortez the Killer", or again, early Fushitsusha. The lyrics, throughout the album, are fittingly poetic and melancholic throughout, and English translations are provided in the booklet. "Daydream Believer" is not a coruscating deconstruction of the Monkees' hit, but a plodding, tragic minor key waltz, building to a furious, anguished climax. "Long Goodbye" is another, slightly more restrained evocation of loss, driven by heavily flanged bass and an understated tom-tom rhythm.
Of course, no example of this particular genre would be complete without the obligatory excessive epic, which appears here in the form of "Song for Lucrezia II", nicely drenched in fiery soloing and droning feedback - enough, thankfully to inspire concern for the health of Aoki's hapless amp.
"Lucrezia" doesn't quite capture the band's live intensity, and is cleaner and less noise-saturated than "Five Psychedelic Pieces" or the Kawabata collaboration. However it is a more than worthy evocation of disconsolate souls wandering through back-alleys on sleepless, moonless nights, their vision further obscured by their omnipresent sunglasses. 8/10 -- Paul Condon (27 June, 2006)