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This collaboration was born at the UFO Club in Tokyo,” says Bruce McKenzie, one half of the local experimental duo Buzz or Howl. “We met famed Japanese psych-noise artist Astro through a mutual friend.… The music Astro took home that night was by Buzz or Howl, and plans were hatched to combine forces with him somehow.”

The collaboration, Western Mystery School, was released this month on Lotushouse Records. Astro — aka Hiroshi Hasegawa — is best known for his stint with C.C.C.C., alongside occasional bondage porn star Mayuko Hino, notorious for throwing plastic bags of urine at audiences.

“She performed with Hiroshi when we played with them at the UFO Club in Tokyo in 2005,” says Buzz or Howl’s Eric Nielsen. “She quietly did her thing while the loudest sounds I have ever heard emanated from the stage. The whole room shook, the support beams shook, the bathroom shook, and the sound man had to fan the board with his Japanese fan, wearing his wooden sandals.…

“The key components of psych-noise,” explains Nielsen, “are freedom of volume and composition. It’s an emotive attack on your whole body with volume, so loud that it’s not uncommon to have an out-of-body experience in a swirling cloud of intense volume.…

“Once, in western Japan, I was at a show that was so loud I had to lift my shoulders to my ears. I was in terrible pain, but it was impolite to get up and leave. After about 15 minutes, I completely forgot about the music, relaxed, and went into deep contemplation.”

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Jay Allen Sanford Jan. 21, 2009 @ 10:31 p.m.

Nielsen says the local Psyche Noise scene includes bands like Earthless and Riververb. “The godfathers of the sound, like Mainliner and AMT, play the Casbah, and other acts are playing the Ken Club and the Che Cafe…the Thirsty Moon record store sells a lot of this stuff.”

“It seems as the Casbah musicians get older, there is more interesting and experimental music being made in this town.”


Keef Jan. 22, 2009 @ 5:48 p.m.

I agree that the bounds of the Casbah staples (Post Punk, Indie-Pop, Rock-a-Billy, garage) have in recent years been morphing into a more all inclusive atmosphere. This is great in that when such a KILLER venue takes it upon themselves to expose local ears to a wider palette everyone wins. Eric and Bruce (the two primaries from Buzz or Howl) are artists in the truest sense. They both have long pedigrees in and out of music including film, painting, writing and theatre. It is refreshing to have local access to such multifaceted folks who also look to the international arena for collaborators. Eric and Bruce's other band Maquiladora have worked with Acid Mothers Temple (Japan) and acts such as Mus from Spain. This particular piece is just an amazing piece of music. It has furious sections along with more contemplative moments. Anyone seeking a walk outside the tyranny of 4/4 verse/chorus/verse would do well to check this and the whole Buzz or Howl catalog. I also find the fact that this disc was completed with such a notorious and interesting character as Hiroshi Hasegawa to be ample reason alone for lending it some ear time.


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