Geinoh Yamashirogumi – Osorezan / Dou No Kenbai (1976)
There are very few albums which wholly defy categorization, and Geinoh Yamashirogumi’s Osorezan / Dou No Kenbai is one of them. I wish I could tell you where I originally heard about it, maybe Jim O’rourke mentioned it in an interview, but honestly I have no idea. When my desire for it materialized, it overtook my psyche for a number of years. I have no idea how rare it is in Japan, but it’s not easy to find in the West. I finally located a copy a few years back, and couldn’t get it off my turntable in the weeks that followed.
Geinoh Yamashirogumi is a Japanese musical collective founded in 1974 by the artist and scientist Tsutomu Ōhashi. It consisted of hundreds of people, mostly “non-musicians” from all walks of life. It ticks a lot of my boxes right there. They continued to issue recordings until the mid 90’s, but I’m unsure if they’re around today. They were largely dedicated to the translation of global folk music idioms, though honestly from what I’ve heard, their renderings are insane and nearly unrecognizable from the source.
Osorezan / Dou No Kenbai, from 1976, was their first album. It consists of two side long pieces which border on madness. At points they sound like a horror soundtrack, at others they embrace the pure dissonant clatter of experimental music, or a strange vision of ambient music, and outright Prog. It’s wild howling ride, for which I can think of few equivalents. Almost indescribable. It’s just been reissued by Loomoon records and can be found at Honest Jon’s. I recommend grabbing it fast.