Kazuki Tomokawa – Kazuki Tomokawa 1975 – 1977
Format: 3 x CD
Catalogue No.: BF-026-028
Release Date: 19 Nov 2021
A poet, soothsayer, bicycle race tipster, actor, prolific drinker, self-taught guitarist, and living legend of Japanese sound, Kazuki Tomokawa catapulted into Tokyo’s avant-folk scene in the mid-1970s, forging a sound and sensibility marked by throat-wrenching vocals and searing ennui. Among his musical peers in postwar Japan, Tomokawa distinguished himself as a pioneer of radical individualism. He had “the personality of a hydrogen bomb”—as the notorious ultraleft band the Brain Police once put it—and a sound to match. Now, Blank Forms Editions gathers Tomokawa’s earliest records for the first time in a deluxe three CD box set comprised of Finally, His First Album (Harvest Records, 1975), Straight from the Throat (Harvest Records, 1976), and A String of Paper Cranes Clenched between My Teeth (Harvest Records, 1977). In each record, Tomokawa shouts, cries, wails, and croons, his folk stylings tinged with psychedelia and swelling into ground-shaking rock. Many tracks are performed in his native Akita dialect, a highly regional vernacular of north Japan rarely heard beyond the prefecture, and even less often used in music. Matching his guttural, all-out vocals are profoundly existential meditations on everyday life and the world around him; this is, as record executive Kiichi Takara dubs it, “I-music.” It looks toward the interior, the quotidian, and the domestic with piercing and ever-honest eyes. The accompanying liner notes (here translated for the first time) include introductions by Takara, a round table discussion with Brain Police, and lyrics for all three albums—tracking the rise of Tomokawa as the “screaming philosopher” of Japan. The box set will be in conjunction with the release of each record in LP format in 2022, and the musician’s 2015 memoir, Try Saying You’re Alive! (Blank Forms Editions, 2021), the first-ever English translation of his prose; together they provide the definitive introduction to the singular world of Kazuki Tomokawa. Kazuki Tomokawa (b. 1950) is a prolific singer-songwriter from Hachiryū Village (now the town of Mitane) in the Akita Prefecture area of northern Japan. Since his first release in 1975, he has recorded more than thirty albums. The 2010 documentary about his life, La Faute des Fleurs, won the Sound & Vision award at the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, and that same year saw the Japanese release of the book Dreams Die Vigorously Day by Day, a collection of his lyrics spanning forty years. His most recent albums are Vengeance Bourbon (2014) and Gleaming Crayon (2016), both on the Modest Launch label.
Track list: CD1, Finally, His First Album: The Flower of Youth / Souls / Yumiko’s Spring / Song from the Void / Grave / Hail the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Sutra / Phone Call / An Akita Fox Song Run Amok / World School / Resistance, Age 23 / Mr. Ishimori / First Bon / A Cat Burglar in the Night / Bright Night CD 2, Straight from the Throat: Grampa / Goddam Winter / American Kuyuran / Dagadzugu / A Fitting Adolescence / Footbridge / The Spring is Here Again Song / Fridge / Smithereens / Don’t Kill the Sea Lions / Harmonica / A Little Ditty / Stone CD 3, A String of Paper Cranes Clenched between My Teeth: Try Saying You’re Alive! / Kill or Be Killed / Memory / Got a Problem? / Namahage / My Hometown is Also Inside a Dog / The Boys of Hachiryū / The Donpan Song Goes Off the Rails / Runaway Boy / Missed My Time to Die
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