Narita Munehiro -
Ether: Solo Electric Guitar Works
aRCHIVE Records by Eric Nielsen 10.11.06
aRCHIVE puts out some of the best looking and best sounding music in America from Japanese and American artists and this release is no different. Their list includes Bardo Pond, The Goslings, Keiji Haino, James Plotkin, Tsurubami and many others. Narita is most famously known for his work in the infamous psych gods High Rise, but he is now making a name for himself playing in various cominations in and around Tokyo.
This two song cd is live recordings from two nights in Tokyo in 2005 and 2006 at Super Deluxe (the cd is a limited run of 600). Both pieces are very long electric guitar solo's/songs. Narita is commonly recognized as a speed freak but this disc captures more emotion and texture on the guitar than speed.
The first, Sublimination, comes in at 22 and a half minutes. Sometimes Jimi Hendrix without the Band of Gypsies, Sublimination ebbs and flows over many textured and effected guitar sounds. You seem to get the whole rack of pedals on this song, phaser, distortion, wah wah, feedbacker, leslie, whammy bar etc.
One of the nice things that Narita does on Sublimination is to create space in between the barrages of sound scapes and attacking guitar sounds. Sonically riveting, psychadelic sound shifting, ear wailing free jazz improv, this is what Narita does best. Sounds like the Jimi Hendrix Star Spangled Banner thing.
On Velocity, we hit the super-overdriven, distorted guitar, phased in a kind of riff. It starts out more song-oriented than the free noise jazz guitar or Sublimination. This riff gets blasted apart into feedback and tweaked effects that must have numbed a few ears at the live showing. The frequencies get high and piercing and then go into otherworld metallic mellow and back into the depths of a soft bird whisper and out into the feedback tweak and speed freak that he is most known for.
One of my favorite things about this disc is the way the panning moves in the headphones. It's all over the fucking place and is a perfect way to keep a music like this fresh and coming at you from all directions.
In 2004, my band Maquiladora, had a chance to play Super Deluxe in Tokyo, and Makoto Kawabata (who was playing with Maquiladora on that tour) invited Narita to come down and sit in on one song with us. We didn't really have time to go over the song during sound check, so we just let it fly.
It was smoking as four guitars battled for space that night, so we invited him back the next night to the Penguin House in Tokyo. Narita, it turns out, had recorded the whole show at Super Deluxe and in one day had learned our set. He came out and played the the entire show with us, loud.
Ueno Takashi of Tenniscoats and Maher Shalal Hash Baz
and Koji Shimura from Acid Mothers Temple also sat in the whole set that night. It was a night I'll never forget. We hardly spoke, just watched each others eyes and we let the music go.
This disc is some serious, heavy, underground shit. It's not for everybody and it's not supposed to be. If you love High Rise, or freaked out guitar or you just can't stand to listen to another major label pop piece of crap, this may be the cd for you. If you like this, you'll probably like a lot of what aRCHIVE has to offer.