The Osaka-area faux-turned-real group's latest Thrill Jockey full-length, Taiga, is a stunner, a major flutter forward from last year's Gold and Green (no surprise, since the latter was actually recorded in, oh my, ’00). Bookended by the primal drum chants of "UMA" and "UMO," Taiga (Japanese for “big river”) mixes the pervasive percussion of Ai and guests Yo2ro Tatekawa and Thiam Misato — so reminiscent of the taiko beat of Japanese folk festivals — with P-we's animal yowls and womanly harmonies. Out folkies might take note of the stinging guitar lines of Kayan, the steel-pan dementia of guest Tonchi, and the skillfully applied electronic gloss and mechanistic punctuation — at times miming the blistering peal coming from pachinko parlors, at others rhyming with the drone of train bells. Like a swift current, the mix powers past poppier releases like Feather Float (Birdman, 2001) and creates a specific aural space just as so many J-psych combos do, according to Paul Collett in Japanese Independent Music (Sonore). Theirs is a streaming, sexy binary realm that's both drastically organic and wholly synthetic. You're soaking in it. SFBG
IRASSHAI! OTHER RECENT JAPANESE RELEASES
ENVY, INSOMNIAC DOZE (TEMPORARY RESIDENCE)
An early ’90s hardcore act goes the moody, slow-boil route of Mogwai and Isis, with vague invocations of Jade Tree combos — and screaming vocals in Nipponese.
SOLAR ANUS, SKULL ALCOHOLIC: THE COMPLETE SOLAR (TUMULT)
One of the best band names — no buts about it. Released by Aquarius Records' Andee Connor, this twofer retrospective clobbers with slabs of metallic Mudhoney-raving-on-rat-poison groovitude.
SUISHOU NO FUNE, WHERE THE SPIRITS ARE (HOLY MOUNTAIN)
If you missed the Tokyo group's Oct. 19 Bottom of the Hill date, you can catch this recording by femme guitarist Pirako Kurenai and masculine ax-swinger Kageo, which had us wracked by Keiji Haino flashbacks.
SUNN O))) AND BORIS, ALTAR (SOUTHERN LORD)
Tokyo's heavies bump throbbing uglies with Stephen O'Malley and Greg Anderson, along with the Melvins’ Joe Preston and other guests, and slow things way, way, way down.