the mad guitar singsJapanese guitarist Kawaguchi Masami has a reputation for heavy riffage and dreamy soundscapes in his long string of bands, but in solo mode he leans heavily towards the latter. “The Mad Guitar Sings” bears more than a reference in name only to Syd Barrett’s post-Floyd stuff but is perhaps even darker in its tone.

Masami has been in bands like Miminokoto, New Rock Syndicate, Los Doroncos (with Doronco of Les Rallizes Denudes), Aihiyo (with Keiji Haino), LSD March and Broomdusters, all of which are just names to me but well regarded by those grounded in Japanese heavy rock and psych.

He has a few connections to Australia. Masami played on Penny Ikinger’s unreleased next album, along with Radio Birman’s Deniz Tek. This is Masami’s first solo record and on an Ausssie label but there’s no concession to local ears with each song sung in Masami’s native tongue. Not that there has to be any such accommodation. Lastly, Masami is touring Australia in October 2015 with six dates in Melbourne, Brisbane and Sydney.

“The Mad Guitar Sings” is just Masami on vocals and guitar. The sound is sparse without a hint of feedback and the mood is seriously downcast. Masami’s guitar doesn’t so much sing as hang in the air and weave in and out of his mournful vocal. Except on the closing “Repetition” where its climax stretches into the edge of distortion. Whatever Kawaguchi’s singing about must have cut him up bad.

This is music best absorbed sometime between the witching hour and the first rays of dawn. Its six songs are stripped barer than a baby at bath-time and there’s a direct lineage from the ancient Enka, which is a postwar form drawn from traditional Japanese music.

It won’t get your foot tapping and you won’t be joining in on the choruses (mainly because there aren’t any.) That’s not the intent. It’s avant garde and maybe a bit self-indulgent but also the sound of a man immersed deeply in sound and his own songs. Of course that beats karaoke at your local pub or three sets by a Cold Chisel cover band. Prepare to be challenged.You can listen to samples at the label link below.


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Masami Kawaguchi Australian tour
11 - Lyrebird Lounge, Melbourne (w/ Penny Ikinger)
12 - Cherry Bar, Melbourne (w/ Craig Westwood)
14 - The Junk Bar, Brisbane (w/ The Steady As She Goes)
15 - The Midnight Special, Sydney
17 - The Factory Floor, Sydney (w/ Penny Ikinger + The Maladies)
18 - 107 Project Projects, Sydney