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Suishou no Fune - Suishou no Fune

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Artist: Suishou no Fune

Album: Suishou no Fune

Label: Japanoise Records

Review date: Oct. 5, 2005

It's probably fair to place Suishou no Fune in context along with contemporaries like Aural Fit, Up-Tight, Miminokoto and LSD-March as a member of Japan's latest wave of psychedelic rock bands. Their heritage would start some 35+ years back with the legendary Rallizes Denudes, whose Stooges-on-acid sound and darkly mysterious aura still serve as inspiration. Filling in the intermediate years one will find Fushitsusha, High Rise, Marble Sheep, Shizuka, Angel'in Heavy Syrup and others.

In this context, Suishou no Fune align with Fushitsusha and, perhaps most closely, with Shizuka. The pure emotional power of Fushitsusha isn't quite there, but then again that's too much to expect from anyone. The prettiness and density are most reminiscent of Shizuka, perhaps even Bardo Pond and Ash Ra Tempel. But there's an intrinsic Japanese style being explored here that doesn't seem to emanate from anywhere else.

The trio's core is the guitar/vocal duo of Pirako Kurenai and Kageo. The drummer, Tail, stays minimal on a number of these songs but plays an essential role in the band's excursions into outer space territory. The band's name, which translates as Crystal Ship, is certainly apropos for the psychedelic journeys herein; of the five songs, the shortest is over 10 minutes, so you know that nobody's in a hurry here. After an initial CD-R release and some compilation appearances, this is the band's first "real" album.

Most of the songs begin with beds of pretty guitar strumming, shimmering chords that float while brittle, picked notes slowly reverberate. The vocals are heavily soaked in reverb, plaintive cries that are often wordless calls into the distance. Moments of clear, quiet guitar picking intersperse with dense fuzz and dissonance on "Into the Light," while "Cherry" remains slower and more gracious, filled with beautiful moments of floating chords.

It's songs like the 17-minute "The Blue Bird, Betrayal and Freedom" that define Suishou no Fune's sound, a sprawling epic that moves from its initial skeletal start – bass-like lines and occasional sparks – into a slowly-growing monster of dense fuzz and increasingly hefty drumming. After the beginning's empty air, sparse vocals and barely-there cymbal hits, the band later reaches liftoff to good effect, and the dramatic, sweeping haze of guitars blends Fushitsusha's atmospheric flights with Bardo Pond's muscular walls.

The songs here do take their sweet time, and might try the patience of some. You'll want to be in the mood to lie down and let the sound sweep over you; this certainly isn't road-trip music. But in cases where the journey takes precedent over the destination, Suishou no Fune have a lot to offer.

By Mason Jones

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