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Up-Tight and Makoto Kawabata - Up-Tight and Makoto Kawabata

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Artist: Up-Tight and Makoto Kawabata

Album: Up-Tight and Makoto Kawabata

Label: Galactic Zoo Disk

Review date: Oct. 15, 2005

I won’t revamp Up-Tight’s credentials here. Their heavy but crystal-clear monster riffage and high-frequency scree has quickly become the stuff of legend, and the group’s place at the forefront of the new Japanese psych scene has been well established at least since the massive and deservedly lauded Five Psychedelic Pieces, even earlier for those in the know. Last year’s Lucretia only broadened the pallet and deepened the rumble, as this power trio embraced epic noise, rhythmic drone and acid-soaked balladry. Similarly, Acid Mothers Temple guitarist and prolific solo artist Makoto Kawabata needs no introduction, his own versatile brand of psych-bludgeoning having been ingested ravenously since 1997.

Stunningly, this new collaborative effort pushes things forward, even the volume. It seems inconceivable, between listens, that such a tangibly satisfying squall can emerge from such a small piece of plastic, but this just might be both artists’ loudest offering so far, possibly equaled by select moments from Up-Tight’s 2003 live CD-R.

The barrage emerges from nothing, swells, peaks, subsides slightly, then peaks repeatedly, only to disappear some 70 minutes later, leaving in its wake the strange feeling it had never existed. Don’t approach this one expecting any of the beautiful crooners from past Up-Tight efforts. From “Rainy Day Girl #12&35”’s hypnotically orchestrated drone intro, Kawabata’s gong-homage guitar soaring over the shattered and lugubrious remnants of power chords, sweet obliteration is the order of the day. Only “Where Does she Go” provides a few moments respite, but electricity surges and crackles just beneath the surface of the quietest moments.

Kawabata’s production is a marvel; no matter how loud or distorted things get, drummer Shirahata’s multi-timbral workouts are always clear and precise. In fact, no Up-Tight or AMT disc has ever sounded quite this good, even in moments of the most mind-bending tortuousness; sample the head-fuck bombs and splatter of “The Scat singer at the Gate of Midnight” or the sickeningly liberating yells of “The S.C.R.E.A.M. Walks with Monk” for an idea of the treasures hidden in each mix. Sumptuous stereo placement keeps every layer of Aoki’s guitar and vocals clear, while Ogata blurts, thumps and rumbles beneath.

I can only envy the folks who get to see Up-Tight as they tour the States for the first time. If you’re not among those fortunates, this disc will provide adequate consolation.

By Marc Medwin

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