To say that at first I didn’t like the two tracks on this reissue would be a huge understatement. In my third listening, however, I’ve come to appreciate Karuna Khyal’s weird harmonica-cum-tape-loops-cum-shamanic-humming, free-rocking blues. Released as early as 1976, “Alomoni 1985” is a seminal document of Japan’s experimental underground. The two untitled tracks on this album each clock in at around 24 minutes, which provides ample space for Karuna Khyal’s digressive story-telling and repetitive free-rock. About eleven minutes in, both tracks change direction abruptly, momentarily forsaking the meditative loops in favour of even freer, and also noisier, explorations. The influence Zappa, Captain Beefheart, but also of the usual Krautrock and Kosmische Musik suspects is palpable, especially of Faust and, both in repetitiveness and in spiritual weirdness, of Sergius Golowin’s “Lord Krishna of Goloka” album. Even though I prefer and admire the latter, I would argue that “Alomoni 1985” has aged much better than most other experimental rock music of its time.
This is a cd only release advertised as coming in “unique card wallet format”. Forget about this, it’s a plain, promo-style cardbox tray within another, slightly bigger slipcase. It’s nice, but nothing to write home about. The music, though, even after 34 years, is utterly fresh. Given that this appears to be Karuna Khyal’s only proper release and seeing that this has never before been reissued and the asking price for the original lp is currently anything between 200 usd to 500 euros, this reissue is very welcome indeed. 7/10 -- Jan-Arne Sohns (28 April, 2010)