Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sounds of the Day #17B/2014: Fushitsusha & Peter Brötzmann


Fushitsusha / Peter Brötzmann
Nothing Changes No One Can Change Anything,
I Am Ever-Changing Only You Can Change Yourself
  Recorded at Hōsei University, Tokyo, April 26, 1996

No band on Earth has ever sounded like Fushitsusha. Sure, there are antecedents to their mind-scraping, soul-searing roar: Blue Cheer’s in there, as is Hendrix circa 1970, when he’d given up the showmanship of 1967 and ’68 and aimed himself straight at the heart of the music, but nobody ever exploded the rock power trio form the way Keiji Haino, Yasushi Ozawa and Jun Kosugi did. Clad in black, impassive and stoic, the bassist and drummer built seemingly rickety scaffoldings of rhythm that were revealed to be as powerful as suspension bridges once Haino ascended, guitar in hand, to unleash storms of raw sound on unprepared (for who could ever be prepared for an experience like this?) audiences in Japan and, eventually, Europe and America. Though their music was improvised, it was never aimless; Haino was merely demonstrating that when one’s goal is purity, the path to it is constantly shifting. Pieces might be three minutes long, or 75. They might be built around headlong, nearly punk-rock riffing, or seem to come together with near-imperceptible slowness, like clouds of mist rising from the earth. They could be furious, explosive, or crushingly sad.

Though Haino has been a willing – even eager – collaborator with many players from diverse backgrounds over the years, very few performers could match Fushitsusha’s energy. Indeed, perhaps the only man capable of withstanding the force of the group in full cry would be German saxophonist Peter Brötzmann, who joins the trio on this three-disc, three-hour document of a single epic concert, recorded at Tokyo’s Hōsei University on April 26, 1996. Brötzmann and Haino have recorded together several times over the years – the same week this concert was held, the duo album Evolving Blush and Driving Original Sin was tracked, and the pair teamed up with drummer Charles Hayward for his album Double Agent(s): Live in Japan Volume Two. But Nothing Changes No One Can Change Anything, I Am Ever-Changing Only You Can Change Yourself is unique in both the Fushitsusha and Brötzmann discographies. The trio have never sounded the way they do here – beginning Disc One with long, ritualistic passages of solo drums and nearly unaccompanied bass; chanting and howling in a guttural, almost pre-linguistic manner behind the saxophonist as Kosugi seems to try to smash his kit to bits, at the midpoint of Disc Two; hammering home a blues riff reminiscent of the Plastic Ono Band circa Live Peace in Toronto on Disc Three, and bringing the whole thing to a close with a four-way noise/garage-rock raveup in the final three minutes of the performance.

There are many Fushitsusha live albums – Live and Live II, the two double-disc sets on PSF that first brought the group to global underground godhood; Gold Blood; Withdrawe, This Sable Disclosure Ere Devot’d; The Wound That Was Given Birth To Must Be Greater Than The Wound That Gave Birth; I Saw It! That Which Before I Could Only Sense; and more. Each captures a crucial moment or moments from a unique and ongoing musical journey. But Nothing Changes No One Can Change Anything, I Am Ever-Changing Only You Can Change Yourself may be the heaviest, the most overpowering, and at times the most beautiful of them all. This performance has been legendary in Haino fan circles since it happened, 18 years ago. At last, it has been released for all those who weren’t there to experience for themselves.

Nothing Changes No One Can Change Anything, I Am Ever-Changing Only You Can Change Yourself comes wrapped in a folded outer sleeve with art by painter Denis Forkas Kostromitin; the discs housed in black paper envelopes inside a black engraved folder. A reproduction of the original flyer advertising the performance is also enclosed. The audio has been mastered by James Plotkin, and the tri-fold booklet includes liner notes by Alan Cummings.

3CD limited to 1000 copies
URCD087

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