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LSD-march - Suddenly, like flames

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Artist: LSD-march

Album: Suddenly, like flames

Label: Last Visible Dog

Review date: Aug. 22, 2004

The liner notes to this reissue of LSD-march’s second album demonstrate that, despite the group having emerged from a fairly lengthy period of obscurity, its psychedelic credentials are not in question. Members of what Allan Cummings labels this “mature lineup” have played with such heavies as Fushitsusha, Miminokoto, Highrise — the list goes on and on. Cummings also likens the groups brand of mirkrock to Red Krayola, an apt but incomplete comparison.

What sets LSD-march apart from the more widely hyped Japanese psych combos is an incredible restraint and consequent attention to detail. Their sound is lo-fi, without doubt, but, as with the Dead C or Last Visible Dog stalwarts MCMS, every sound on Suddenly, like flames seems deliberately placed for maximum effect; the sound pallet on the disc is much broader than the instrumental credits indicate. On “When I Die, Hell Awaits,” Akuro Takahashi’s light and airy percussion work sounds as if his kit has been augmented with more traditional Japanese instruments, and a windily haunting wail re-enforces sneaking suggestions of Velvet Underground circa 1969. Even when Shinsu Mitshishita's guitar rises above its customary reflective murmurings, or when drums are struck with something approaching abandon, as on “Bud of Flesh,” the effect is momentary.

Nothing disturbs the disc’s overall sense of melancholy acceptance until the title track, and what a screaming Les Rallize Denudes-influenced wall of sound it is! There are moments of discernable melody and harmony, but these are fleeting, all ground down by a demonically sludgy proto-funk drum riff. Suddenly, like flames indeed! The effect is majestic and horrifying.

In this way, LSD-march differ considerably from the poster boys of Japan psych, Acid Mothers Temple, but they're certainly no strangers to jamming, as shown by the alternate version of “The Lamp-Tomorrow’s Godard.” Much slower and three times as long as the version proper, it builds from pastoral reflection to psychedelic scree; these guys can certainly rock out like AMT or Up-Tight, but they often choose a more timbrally expansive road, indicative of extreme versatility. Cheers to Last Visible Dog for reissuing what was just a 300-copy pressing from a band deserving of more recognition.

By Marc Medwin

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