Dusted Reviews

Up-Tight - Five Psychedelic Pieces

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Up-Tight

Album: Five Psychedelic Pieces

Label: Static Caravan

Review date: Aug. 3, 2004

‘Psychedelic music’ is an over-proscribed term at best. It’s hard to correctly divine the exact moment when the relationship between musical output and psychedelic experience devolved to a limp series of genre exercises, but ‘psych’ as shorthand – both for the idea of psychedelic music, and for music which takes idiomatic shortcuts that supposedly evoke the psychedelic experience – has become a neutered, meaningless term. Whether it be psych-pop, psych-rock, folk-psych, psych-folk, or some combination thereof, too little of the music offers the goods. And unlike many other forms of music, where the building blocks of genre appellation can still lead to thrilling output, a bad psych record is just that – a messy morass of flangers and delay pedals surfing a dull and plodding back-beat as rigid as an English public school headmaster.

If any group of artists has managed to keep psychedelic rock alive, it’s those involved with the continual mutations and developments of the Japanese underground. And while there is an identifiable approach particular to most Japanese psychedelic rock – unfurling screeds of electric guitar, shape-shifting rhythms, gulped and consumptive vocals – the artists involved still manage to drag new configurations out of base elements. Up-Tight is part of a new wave of outfits that are pouring light back into the source, and alongside Miminokoto and LSD-March, they’re the most potent example therein.

Up-Tight eschews the more obtuse approach of their immediate peers for an attack that places post-Velvets structures up against acid-flare guitar and moments of improvised discourse. The opening “Do the pop” is a labyrinthine experience; although the rhythms call to mind the endless motor of Krautrock, Tomoyuki Aoki’s guitar plots out a lead that defies logic, charging up and down scales and then slipping into different registers like an meth-struck eel. Five Psychedelic Pieces splits itself neatly between this former, more ragged approach, with the rhythm section of Takashi Ogata and Takashi Shirahata slipping between the cracks laid by Tomoyuki’s guitar, and melancholy songs that unravel into loose, indefinable codes. Both “At 2:00 am, I am waiting for someone” and “Falling in love” drift by on obsessive waves of drone, with the latter track sounding like some alternate reality vision of John Cale staying with the Velvets for their love-struck third album, Tomoyuki moaning ‘I fall in love with you’ over and over again like a possessed/possessive lover almost extinguished with post-amour bliss.

The highlight of the record, though, is a sky-bound duo for guitar and drums near the end of the live recording “Visions of key of A,” where Tomoyuki pulls a spiraling riff from his guitar, almost referencing Bowie’s “Width of A Circle,” as Takashi Shirahata fires off round after round of percussion into Tomoyuki’s orbit. This two-minute segment captures the vertiginous effect of true psychedelic music, justifying the album’s dogmatic and unprepossessing title.

By Jon Dale

Read More

View all articles by Jon Dale

Find out more about Static Caravan

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.