The perfect filmic totem for the world’s most obscure and dangerous cult band: French director Ethan Mousike’s “ambient documentary” about Japan’s self-proclaimed “Radical Music Black Gypsy Band”. Released on VHS in 1992, the film combines Mousike’s assemblage of archival backstage and performance footage with a series of concerts an obsessed Mousike crossed the world to shoot, at his own expense, during the savage, black-leather-clad final days of Les Rallizes Denudes‘ 37-year existence (sic!). Mousike eschews a narrative arc – the film lacks language of any sort, save for the fabricated French-Beatnik-Japanese creole leader Takeshi Mizutani “sang” in to avoid association with any of the societies he so seditiously despised – in favor of an approach both concrete and formally impressionistic: his film is disconnected, opaque, displaced, harsh and jarring, much like the mysterious, dark entity on which he is so singularly focused. Never has a performance-film worked so hard at summoning the abstract qualities of an artist’s essence and mystique! Les Rallizes Denudes’ story, of course, has all the makings of twisted legend. Started in the mid-1960′s, inspired equally by radical leftist ideology, confrontational theater methods and the bruising maelstroms of The Velvet Underground and Blue Cheer, the band set Psychedelic Japan aflame with its relentless, uncompromising approach to a rock and roll vision dually primitive and expansive. After bass player Moriyasu Wakabayashi and his Japanese Red Army comrades successfully hijacked a commercial aircraft – with Samurai swords, no less! – and were welcomed in North Korea as revolutionary heroes, harassment and the threat of imprisonment by Japanese Special Agents and the FBI forced an already-paranoid Mizutani into hiding amid the holy mountains of Northern Japan. Further radicalized and marginalized, Mizutani and his perpetually-changing lineup of Rallizes emerged from the bleak mists every five-or-so years to ply his brutal canon onstage for a new generation of slackjawed devotees. Existentially anti-commercial to the point of disappearance, the band never released an official album in its lifespan, and survive sonically to this day via the cavalcade of bootlegs lovingly produced by their hordes of freakishly zealous fans. A cogent film by a skilled director – however appropriately unknown both may be – about this band is a true treasure for musical, cultural and political radicals the world over. [Source]
October 2, 1982 at Keio University. After Fujio Yamaguchi’s departure (“Double Heads” experiment). Doronco on bass, more focus on Mizutani’s guitar and singing without rhythm guitar (imitated at 3:57), deep echo, and dark atmosphere with strobe lights and projections of cathedrals. A very good rendition. Metal Machine Music ’82 DVD [UNIVIVE-02] / Tripical Midbooster – Winter 1981-1982 [UNIVIVE-020].
Les Rallizes Dénudés were a really heavy Japanese psychedelic band that emerged in the ’60s and played in various incarnations for decades thereafter. They tore up the Japanese underground in the ’70s with powerful music and captivating theatrics. The live experience is reputed to be a sensory overload similar to that of the Velvet Underground’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Their live show included friends from an avant-garde theater troupe, extremely loud canvasing guitar, as many strobe lights as they could plug in, disco balls, and communist propaganda. Rallizes existed chiefly as a live experience and have released very little studio work. The group itself is shrouded in mystery. They are rumored to spread communist and revolutionary literature at their shows (including junior high schools). The original bassist, Moriaki Wakabayashi, was a part of the Red Army Faction-led Yodo-go Hijacking of Japan Airlines Flight 351 in 1970. Guitarist and group leader Mizutani Takashi has performed as Rallizes and as a solo artist into the ’90s; coming and going from the public arena for years at a time. Their music never received widespread acceptance, but they have developed a large fan-base among psych/noise devotees. New albums, that is to say reissues and bootlegs, have been released at random for decades and their music will likely continue to pop up on psych compilations like Ongaku 70 that contains an edited version of ‘Far Out Deeper Than the Night’ from a live 1977 performance. [Source]