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Green Milk from the Planet Orange - He's crying "Look"

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Artist: Green Milk from the Planet Orange

Album: He's crying "Look"

Label: Beta-Iactam Ring

Review date: Apr. 26, 2005

The demand for Japanese cultural exports has undergone a pronounced shift in the States over the course of the past five years. While “cuteness” still sells, these days a record collection is more likely to have a Ghost album or two than any Pizzicato Five record. Independent movie theaters and rental stores proudly recommend anything Miike Takashi touches, the more demented the better. With Hollywood’s trend of white-washing select films from the Japanese horror renaissance, Americans are becoming less interested in Japan as the Land of “Kawaii,” and are turning to things creepy, psychedelic, or bizarre for their dose of “Japanese culture.” Call it “new, weird Japan.”

When it comes to music, Japanese musicians have been exploring psychedelia and experimental music for decades, and the resurgence of stateside interest in groups like Acid Mothers Temple and Flower Travelin’ Band has led to numerous reissues of classic Japanese psych albums and an increased chance of contemporary groups to have their work released in the U.S. Thus, the timing couldn’t be more perfect for the first domestic release from Japan’s Green Milk from the Planet Orange, entitled He’s crying “Look”. With only 5 tracks lasting close to 80 minutes, it’s an epic work in tune with much of the Japanese psych canon, while mixing distinctive bits of jazz and prog-rock to create a sound that feels new in spite of its referents.

The three members of GMFTPO cut their teeth in the Southern Japanese grindcore scene, and still utilize many of the same explosive start-and-stop-at-a-moments-notice changes, but now choose to space them out between long stretches of meditative, often dark guitar work. Each track sounds like a mini-opus, combining distinctive segments into 15-plus minute songs. Opener “When Every Color Turns Black” begins with a dirge-like movement, aided by drummer A’s muted trumpet and T’s jazzy bass line, with singer dead K’s vocals in a barely audible whisper before breaking away midway into an extremely tight jazz-psych freakout. It’s downright hallucinatory, even without the aid of effects pedals.

“U-Boat,” the album’s only all instrumental track, sounds like war, with a cacophony of blaring loudspeakers yelling “any bloods, any sweats, and any tears are smashed up the only bomb at the war” (as the album’s liner notes translate), and alternating metal and jazz bass and guitar riffs. Much like the album as a whole, it’s as exhausting as it is impressive.

Both “Sweet 5 A.M.” and “Butterfly,” the album’s shorter pieces at six minutes a piece, offer respite to GMFTPO’s lengthier and louder pieces. More song-based in structure, they exhibit GMFTPO’s ability to work with melody, both instrumentally and vocally. However, dead K’s lyrics, sung in English, never allow too much of a foray in whimsy. Both songs muse on the futility of existence, with “Sweet A.M.” declaring, “Suddenly I’m filled with emptiness... ‘Love’ means nothing,” and “Butterfly” stating, “The world is closing in the silence... The world is losing her existence.”

On the album’s closer, the 22-minute “In the Space, Far Away from This Planet,” GMFTPO manage to fit the entire album’s worth of styles in one piece. Beginning with five minutes of ambient keyboard noise, the songs builds into pure psychedelia before moving into a segment that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Yes record. From there we move on to jazz, to metal, to freeform noise. GMFTPO’s ability to shift between styles so effortlessly and with such precision underscores their talent as musicians, and the epic scope of their songwriting cements them a place atop the Japanese experimental/post-rock scene.

By Jon Pitt

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