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Ohkami no Jikan - Mort Nuit

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Artist: Ohkami no Jikan

Album: Mort Nuit

Label: Fractal

Review date: Jul. 15, 2003

Dark Depths

Nanjo Asahito's best-known group would be High Rise, of course, but the Tokyo madman has been responsible for many others, including Mainliner, Toho Sara, and Ohkami no Jikan (roughly "time of the wolf"). This group's ever-shifting lineup has included numerous guests, including Acid Mother's Makoto Kawabata, White Heaven's Koji Shimura, and even American musicians during infrequent tours. Rather than playing bass as he does with High Rise, Nanjo uses Ohkami no Jikan as an outlet for his delay-heavy, corruscating guitar playing. This album's supporting cast remains unknown as no names are listed,

lending the CD a mysterious atmosphere.

If Ohkami no Jikan has a philosophy (as Nanjo tends to claim for all of his groups), it would be a portrayal of psychedelic darkness. Across its relatively few releases, the group has placed an emphasis on slow, deep, guitar-drenched sonics, vaguely approaching areas where Fushitsusha holds sway but never becoming as abstract.

The first track here (none are given titles), at thirty minutes in length, is clearly the primary focus of the album. Dark, superfuzz rhythm guitar provides a constantly shifting layer of support sounds for the lead guitar, which is generally simpler and somewhat more fractured than typical psychedelic lead guitar. The drums clatter slowly but steadily, and the recording places more of an emphasis on cymbal crashes and snare splatter than on the low end. The bass is extremely skeletal, almost non-existent.

The guitar is the thing on this album – the left channel is filled with thick droning fuzz, while the right relays twangy single-note slo-mo soloing. It's a claustrophobic sound, suiting the album title well. This is almost High Rise turned inside-out – slow, plodding and deep, two guitars playing anti-groove, refusing to create anything you could nod your head to. There's plenty of distortion and fuzz, and the production is still maxed-out, but the result is spacious, echoing, reverberating shards of sound.

Occasionally we get some of Nanjo's shadowy, reverb-laden vocals. Incomprehensible, mired in the instrumental murk, they come across like portents of some sad fate, warnings that can't quite be made out through the haze. The guitars do pull back slightly, opening the curtains a bit, but it's still like someone chanting from inside a deep well. The message may be important, but we’ll never know for sure.

Towards the end of the piece, 25 minutes in, the goings get increasingly more harrowing, as both guitars grow more and more intense, as if they're fighting a battle against entropy together. This is a particularly rewarding listen if you're a fan of guitar chaos.

The second track is far different, and actually more overtly Fushitsusha-esque (is that a word now?). Empty, quiet moments dodge and weave around bursts of abrasive guitar/drum clashing, until echoing vocal invocations come out to play. This is a relatively strange piece. The last brief track, however, is a complete sonic assault of guitar and drums, levels pushed to their utmost. If you crank it up and let it wash over you for a minute or so, you may begin to hallucinate. This may or may not be a good thing, but I'll leave that decision up to you.

By Mason Jones

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