It seems as though Magical Power Mako was a fairly popular band at WZBC, popular enough for us to have the 5xCD box set Hapmoniym 1972-75 in the studio collection. Julian Cope’s Japan Rock Sampler site has a good deal of information about MPM, but what follows are the basics. MPM is one Makoto Kurita, born around 1955 (the exact date is apparently unknown) in Izu Shuzenji. He developed some fairly peculiar preoccupations as a child, including a strange obsession with perceived voyeurism, a fascination with different modes of perception, and an interest in the potential of tape music. By 1972 he was performing and recording with Keiji Haino and developing music for dramas on NHK (Radio Japan). His introduction to and collaboration with Tōru Takemitsu helped to start his recording career and thus Magical Power Mako was born. Kurita’s refusal to adhere to any one sound (he moves from drone to acoustic music to something approximating progressive rock on the same album) for too long garnered him both praise and derision, but thanks to the revival of interest in Japanese rock over the last several years his music is becoming more and more visible. I’ll be looking for out-of-print material to upload to this site; requests can be left in the comments, but I stress that for me to upload anything it must be out-of-print or ridiculously hard to find/pricey. Forced Exposure carries a great deal of his music for very reasonable prices and they’re nice people to boot; before you go searching other blogs to download readily available music, perhaps think about setting aside a few bucks and buying a record.
Brethren of the Free Spirit also caught my attention this week. It is the combined efforts of James Blackshaw (a self-taught 12 string virtuoso and an artist for whom I have a great deal of respect) and Josef Van Wissem. The name of their album combined with their chosen band name makes for an interesting tension. In short, the Brethren of the Free Spirit was a Christian lay order that held it was possible to come into a relationship with God such that sin would become an impossibility in the individual. This led to members of the order exempting themselves from the very ethics they espoused and all sorts of interesting and exciting things happened for religious historians and theologians. Religiously-themed music is interesting to me in general, but this album has the added benefit of two very talented musicians performing a music that travels outside the modern and into something more eternally beautiful. That Wikipedia article is a good read and I suggest giving it a look: it’ll help make sense of the duo’s starting point and might also shed some light on Blackshaw’s preferred musical subject.
As always the play list and two-part download are available below. If you’ve been downloading the show and enjoying it, please leave a comment or an email and say so!
Keep checking back for more updates.
Thanks and enjoy…
01. Jessica Bailiff “Crush (Version 2)” from Old Things: 1999-2003 (2007) on Morc
02. Bon Iver “For Emma” from For Emma, Forever Ago (2008) on Jagjaguwar
03. Cat Power “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” from The Covers Record (2000) on Matador
04. Brethren of the Free Spirit “In Him Is No Sin” from All Things Are from Him, through Him and in Him (2008) on AudioMER
05. Magical Power Mako “Hapmoniym 1” from Hapmoniym 1972-75 (2002) on Mio Records
06. Hanne Hukkelberg “Break My Body” from Rykestrasse 68 (2008) on Nettwerk
07. Ø “Hyönteis” from Tulkinta (2006) on Sahko
08. Deadbeat “Melbourne Round Midnight” from Journeyman’s Annual (2007) on Scape
09. Autechre “Chenc9” from Quaristice (2008) on Warp
10. Prurient “Apple Tree Victim” from Pleasure Ground (2006) on Load
11. Bokar Rinpoche “Taking Refuge by Lama Tcheupel (Monk at the Monastery of Mirik)” from Sacred Chants and Tibetan Rituals from the Monastery of Mirik (2008) on Sub Rosa
13. Belong “Beeside” from Colorloss Record (2008) Free Download
14. Food “Spherification” from Molecular Gastronomy (2008) on Rune Grammofon
15. Mimir “3” from Mimir (2007) on Streamline — originally released 1990
16. Fennesz/Sakamoto “Glow” from Cendre (2007) on Touch
17. The Habibiyya “Mandola” from If Man But Knew (2008) on Sunbeam — originally released 1972
18. B J Nilsen & Stilluppsteypa “Heilir, thorns eirs hlyddu (Lycklige de, som hyssnat)” from Vikinga Breenivín (2005) on The Helen Scarsdale Agency
19. Nadja “Stays Demons” from Touched (2007) on Alien8
20. Merzbow “Looping Jane (Beat Mix)” from Merzbeat (2002) on Important