Amoeblog

Fleeting Phases: Falling for Once and Future Band

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, September 28, 2014 07:25pm | Post a Comment
once and future band brain ep mouth magazine record vinyl debut san francisco prog psych rock Joel Robinow (keyboards/guitar/vocals), Raj Ojha (drums/recording engineer) and Eli Eckert (bass/guitar/vocals)

Sheesh, it's been a minute since I've thrown my two cents into this here pot and I've got a lot of pennies to spend. So far, 2014 has been a damn good year for new music and I would like, if I may, to take you back to May when a local band dropped one hell of a debut EP for the ages.
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Seemingly fixed somewhere between derivative approximations recalling the Crimson courtiers of Progressive Rock and master multi-part harmonizers of yore like, for example, maybe Wishbone Ash or Bubble Puppy, it could be said that Oakland's Once and Future Band has calculated dead reckoning in waters more well known than uncharted. However, this assessment is flawed. Roughly two minutes into the sprawling eponymous opening track of their debut EP, Brain, when lead vocalist, guitarist, high synth-sayer, and man behind the dream Joel Robinow (of Howlin' Rain, also wearing an exceptionally well designed OAFB tee, right over there) sings, "everyone knows ‘cept yourself that these phases are fleeting, time to take stock and face up to the path life is leading", it's time to give up and give in. The nearly nine minute saga advances not unlike said fleeting phases, progressing along most unpredictably in stone grooves, lucid pulses, transitory textures, and ascending arpeggios, executed with a passion for sound and vision so palpable that any trifling comparison made to apparent forebears would seem a dull and heartless pursuit. Considering the first track alone, it is clear that this band possesses something of a sonic timelessness, a quality that perhaps gives some credence to wanton Steely Dan-ish, CSNY et cetera Classic Rock banalogies, but is rather more a result of a fortuitous confluence of unabashed creativity and masterful musicianship. Fact: these guys make music magical, fanciful, adventurous, and valuable -- every second worth the effort. Once and Future Band simply rules. And they would still rule even if Rick Wakeman had said "no" to Yes.

Continue reading...

Psych Folk legend Eiichi Ohtaki dies at 65

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 10, 2014 04:01pm | Post a Comment
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Japanese singer-songwriter and producer Eiichi Ohtaki passed away at a hospital on Monday, December 30, 2013 after having collapsed at his Tokyo home while eating an apple, a piece which had apparently stuck in his throat causing him to choke. He was 65.

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Ohtaki's influential contributions to Japanese pop and folk rock music worldwide could not be more legendary. Born on July 28, 1948, he was perhaps most famous for being the singer/guitarist and founding member of Happy End (pictured left above),  a band he formed with fellow Japanese rock heavy hitters Takashi Matsumoto (Apryl Fool), Shigeru Suzuki and Haruomi Hosono (Apryl Fool/Yellow Magic Orchestra). From 1969 to 1972 the ensemble produced three studio albums that pioneered a highly revered heavy acid folk sound that made them Japan's most beloved and critically acclaimed classic rock bands of all time. More recently the ensemble won notoriety stateside when their song "Kaze wo Atusmete" was featured in the soundtrack for Sofia Coppola's 2003 film Lost In Translation.

Happy End - "Kaze wo Atsumete" from Kazemachi Roman (1971)

Summer Jams: Turnstyle's "Riding A Wave"

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, July 26, 2013 11:59pm | Post a Comment
pye records 60s psych pop hot smoke and sassafras oldies vinyl 45 single turnstyle riding a wave surf footage vintage film super 8 summer jams mixtape
I don't know about you, but I'm not back on my quest for fresh cuts to flesh out my latest Summer Jams digest, I'm still on it! Though, "fresh" might be a less-than-ideal descriptive word for this latest discovery as it was very much exhumed from Amoeba's oldies bin during a protracted dig. Nevertheless, Turnstyle's "Riding A Wave" has become a favorite of mine over the last week, with many thanks to British music journalist John Reed -- a man I hold in high esteem for the compilations he has produced, namely Hot Smoke and Sassafras: Psychedelic Pstones Vol. I. I highly recommend this collection, but I digress...
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There's not a lot of information out there about the Turnstyle but that probably has everything to do with the fact that this act didn't last long at all. The band formed in 1968 by 17-year-old drummer and songwriter Mark Ashton and went on to record the somewhat edgy, average pop-psych single "Riding A Wave" (b/w "Trot") for Pye Records. Within six months after the release of the 45, Turnstyle supported the Nice for a few live dates before calling it quits without issuing any further recordings. Ashton, his wave riding days behind him as it were, took to the sky with progressive rock unit Rare Bird.
But wait, there's more!

As with my last Summer Jams post, spotlighting Nick Nicely's "On The Beach", some awesome kindred spirit in the universe has created a music video utilising some gnarly vintage film footage of surf, beaches, and bad boy surfers to accompany Turnstyle's "Ridging A Wave" in a such a way that I cannot help but fall in love with this addition to my Summer Jams 2013 mixtape all over again.

Acid Mothers Temple: What You Got in That Bag?

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, February 23, 2012 12:12pm | Post a Comment
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Japanese psychedelic ensemble Acid Mothers Temple (and their countless subsequent appendages) are the stuff of legend. If one was to assemble a who's who of the SF underground (or otherwise) music scene of the last fifteen years for an A.M.T. campfire story tell-a-thon there would be so much surreal-deep dish served you'd think you'd have invented a freaky new kind of supper club. But whatever their exploits, be it the creation of long-distance, guru-level tripper jams or the pursuit of perfection via stones, women and long-player records the guys (& dolls) of Acid Mothers Temple & the Melting Paraiso U.F.O. always seem to me to be the closest I'll ever get to meeting, and I mean this in the most literal tense, a real life star trekker. They stop by Amoeba Music's galactic sector just about every time they play San Francisco (at least once a year it seems) and I cannot reiterate the fact that though they may share some resemblance to the usual off-brand Haight Street flotsam placed beyond the pale one cannot help but recognize the particular presence of Kawabata et al as a refreshing whiff of wizardry in the real. Check out what A.M.T. master shamans Makoto Kawabata and Atsushi Tsuyama picked up on their most recent trip below in this recent addition to Amoeba Music "What's In My Bag?" discovery video series, now with more Acid Mothers Temple!

Korean Psych-Folk Classic, NOW, Back On Wax!

Posted by Kelly S. Osato, January 31, 2012 03:53pm | Post a Comment
Sometimes nothing brings more pride and satisfaction to the Amoeba Music experience than browsing the selections in vinyl new arrivals and finding a classic, diamond-in-the-rough title like Now by Kim Jung Mi and songwriter/producer/arranger/guitar shaman Shin Joong Hyun properly reissued with loving care!

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Recorded in 1973 during the height of Korea's rock music scene, this little elemental wonder, reminiscent of Fairport Convention's savvy blending of folk-tradition-meets-kaleidoscopic-rock, is chock full of poetic musings about springtime weather patterns and other precious things voiced by Shin's protegée Kim Jung Mi - a bookish wallflower-cum-chanteuse à la Marianne Faithful or Francois Hardy. The newly reissued version of this quintessence of psychedelia features Korean/English lyric translations, rare photos, re-mastered audio, and comprehensive liner notes by Kevin "Sipreano" Howes and Shin Joong Hyun expert Jae-Myeong Ro (director of the Korean Classical Music Record Museum, and author of the book Shin Joong Hyun and Beautiful Country. The 180 gram vinyl version of Now comes in a deluxe old-style jacket, avec obi, and has a full color insert with liner notes and rare photos. Scoop yours up soon!

Also, it must be said that this record rates high on the list of apropos album artwork in relation to the record's overall sound. But don't take my word for it, find out for yourself! Click play on the album's opening track below and have a long, lingering look at that cover photo. Careful now, overexposure might lead to excessive use of the word "vibe" as a verb and an unconscious referral to the word "energy" in the plural form.

Kim Jung Mi - "Haenim"
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