A friend and I were having a discussion the other day about the woeful state of The Rock (not the huge Samoan ?wrestler?) today. I don?t mean to suggest that we?re living through a drought, but where are the T-Rex?s and The Doors of 2005? Do most people born after 1980 really just see these bands as ancient echoes of a dead time? Is it possible that System of a Down is ?definitive? to a conscious being? The gap between the golden age of rock--roughly 1966 to 1984--and the shit the kids are floor punching to today grows ever more vast and hollow with each passing year. What used to be about freedom and spontaneous exultation is now just some clinical, agitated malaise.
Within the Japanese psychedelic underground, the musical hegemony that?s since consumed commercial radio (at least in the US anyway) is essentially ignored. Bands like High Rise, Ghost, White Heaven and The Stars (from Japan, dummy!) play their rock ?n? roll as if that golden age never died--as if 2005 were actually 1975 and synth pop and death metal were nothing more than a bad nightmare. You pretty much have to luck out just to hear about these bands, and the records tend to be available only as pricy imports, but believe me when I say it?s worth the extra dollars.
The Stars are Earth?s premier heavy psych punk group. The quartet features three fourths of the legendary White Heaven, including electric guitar virtuoso Michio Kurihara in all his screeching distorted glory. The Sound? Think pristine early 70s proto metal blues like Led Zeppelin and Cream thrown into a crockpot and simmered to a boil. Singer/guitarist You Ishihara has been working for almost 20 years to cultivate the ultimate Japanese approximation of badass English rock vocal coolness, and he's about as close as he's ever gonna get on opener "Everlasting Daylight." It?s a rumbling behemoth of heavy percussion, clanging rhythms and soaring power chords that pulverizes as it hypnotizes with a melody that approaches the most divine heights of garage rock transcendence, and keeps on going, only to be dwarfed by Kurihara?s blistering soloing just past the halfway point.
The slower, softer moments are just as mesmerizing, with intricate dual guitar interplay that brings to mind Television and Quicksilver Messenger Service, not to mention the great Miminikoto. There?s a couple barnburning stompers, too--?Small White Wonder? and ?Twinkie Outside?--which bear more than a passing resemblance to the charred punk remains of ?Out? era White Heaven, only these are cleaner, tighter and louder on the production side, but still totally raw as we?ve come to expect from these folks.
Those digging on the new era of Japanese guitar psych (Up-Tight, Miminikoto, LSD-March) are gonna have their minds effectively decimated and will surely appreciate the brilliance with which The Stars fully illuminate the dark space that is rock ?n? roll in 2005. 9/10 -- Lee Jackson (16 June, 2005)