The Shop
Do The Independence; Billy Bang and Shoji Hano; Shoji Hano; Funny Rat/s 3 (with Peter Brotzmann); Syd Barrett Tribute








DVD tracklist:
(double click on the panel for a better view)


Various
Do The Independence [five-disc box set]
Price: US$35

The box set comes with:
- a silver disc DVD (which contains 203 songs but no video)
- four CD-Rs (TDK or Sony discs) of 60 tracks
- printed artwork

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Independent musician, producer and label head, Shinobu Gotu, wasn't kidding. There are over 201 tracks on Do The Independence, a five-disc indie music compilation. In fact, there are 263 songs making this almost an unreviewable album. You would have to go to several desert islands and back, to make sense of it all.

As a weird collector release, this box set was initially a ticket to a series of concerts in Japan late last year. Once you buy a ticket, you get the box plus the first disc. To complete the set of five discs, you had to attend the rest of the gigs.

The box set now comes with a silver disc DVD (which contains 203 songs but no video); four CD-Rs (TDK or Sony discs) of 60 tracks; and printed artwork. For those who order the set from BigO online, the set will be shipped without the jewel case/box.

But it must be said that Shinobu has got a careful, off-the-wall taste, which is a good thing. He likes his edges rough and unpredictable. Even when he selects a six-minute studio rehearsal track, After the Sludge, it has a VU (Velvet Underground) Sister-Ray groove. Shinobu himself is a big VU fan and when Japan wanted to resissue the debut album with the famous Warhol banana cover, they had to contact him for his pristine copy of it.

No one else has his mania and eclecticism for music. So when he picks a South African band, it's Rambling Bones, a polemical band with pointed social satire in Those Grey Men. Or Star27, a UK sextet who scored BBC's Top 10 Best demos of 2006 with Bukowski's Secret, is here with Soldier On Son. They sound like a straighter ska-influenced Madness. Jad Fair of the US lo-fi alternative band, Half Japanese, weighs in with at least four tracks.

From Asia, there is Malaysia's veteran alternative band, Carburetor Dung. Philippines has film-director cum rocker, Lav Diaz (from his recent solo album) and underground band, The Purple Chickens. Meanwhile, $ingapore has DJ and spoken-word artiste X'Ho with his paean to the country's sex star, Annabel Chong, in the track, Princess Grace, while indie champions, The Oddfellows, has the rare live cut, Stand and Stare, which proves that even at their most raw, Patrick Chng's songwriting skills stand out.

But 80 per cent of the album covers the gamut of Japan noise, avant-garde, death metal, punk, hardcore and grunge. Famed improv drummer Shoji Hano is here as well as almost all of Shinobu's various band permutations including William's Electric Jet Lunch with its tribute to Lou Reed. Altogether over 175 acts are here (and I'm only guessing as I don't read Japanese, not even badly) jostling for your attention.

While it's very frustrating in figuring out just exactly what you're listening to, Shinobu does have the gift of the groove. So even when he segues abstract experimental noise to punk rock, the groove element still maintains a strong feel. So pogo on kids! Stage diving was never this much fun. And oh yeah, Shinobu wants to remind you - "Unauthorised duplication is your decision." - Philip Cheah

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This CD is priced at US$35 (including airmail postage and handling. Please note that the discs will come without the jewel case to cut down costs).

We hope sales will help to partly offset the cost of running our BigO site.

Click on the button to order the CD through PayPal.

Kindly email us at mybigo@bigozine.com with your mailing particulars and to confirm your order.



Those without PayPal can email us at mybigo@bigozine.com for ordering details.

Click here for other items in The BigO Shop.

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Billy Bang and Shoji Hano
Four Seasons
[Heart Lord Studio]
Price: US$15

1. Track 1
2. Track 2
3. Track 3
4. Track 4

Billy Bang - violin
Shoji Hano - drums
with special guest Kimie Sakaki - koto

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By now, all of you following our reviews of the Japanese Heart Lord Studio label, should realize that their speciality is in capturings full-on, bare-bones virtuoso performances. Four Seasons is a kind of mirror to Shoji Hano's Funny Rats album (2008) with free sax (pun intended) player, Peter Brotzmann. Both albums have that spare leanness, like a sharpened fire.

Like Brotzmann, violinist Billy Bang also has a unique sound, honed by decades of anguish. As a survivor of the Vietnam War, Bang suffered from post-war trauma, and his unreconciled emotions and fears forged a passionate angry sound, that took off during the NYC free music/loft scene of the 70s.

As Bang explained: "I was a pre-law student. They allowed me to work at a legal office…When I saw all the under the table, underhanded things that happened in the justice system, that really ran me out of society completely. I felt badly enough because I thought what I did in Vietnam was wrong that I didn't want to join forces with anything else that represented the same unfairness, which was the justice system here in America. I don't care what they say, it is basically how much money you have. They are right, justice is blind…so that propelled me and threw me totally into music."

As a young man, Bang used to play bongos in the New York subway. That perhaps explains why he has loved to record with drummers such as Dennis Charles, William Hooker and Kahil El'Zabar. This new album again shows how well drummer Shoji Hano complements his fellow soloist. Both men dance and weave intricate melodic patterns with each other. The first track is lively and shows how fast they can both be. The second track is quieter, a slowed down rhythm even though Hano is just as busy in the background.

When expert koto player, Kimie Sasaki joins on the third cut, there is an added melodicism. Bang reverts to plucking his violin to complement her. But it's on track four that the fireworks start flying. Both men pull out all the stops in what happens to be the longest cut on the album. It's a breathtaking, magnificent piece that clocks in at over 23 mins.

The weather, as they say, is quite unpredictable. - Philip Cheah

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This CD is priced at US$15 (including airmail postage and handling. Please note that the CD will come without the jewel case to cut down costs).

We hope sales will help to partly offset the cost of running our BigO site.

Click on the button to order the CD through PayPal.

Kindly email us at mybigo@bigozine.com with your mailing particulars and to confirm your order.



Those without PayPal can email us at mybigo@bigozine.com for ordering details.

Click here for other items in The BigO Shop.

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Shoji Hano
Drums
[Heart Lord Studio]
Price: US$15

1. Improvisation 1
2. Improvisation 2
3. Improvisation 3
4. Improvisation 4

5. Improvisation 5

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Free jazz drummer Shoji Hano has played it all. In the '70s, he played avant-garde jazz with the late pianist Yoshito Osawa and trumpeter Toshinori Kondo. But the latter left him his more lasting influence by introducing him to the martial art, Shintaido. Since that time, the philosophical concepts of Shintaido have influenced Hano's music.

In the early '80s, his international reputation grew as he played with guitarists Henry Kaiser and Eugene Chadbourne and reed player Peter Brotzmann. But Hano stopped playing music for two years as he felt frustrated with the direction of his career.

When he resumed playing music in 1985 he began to develop his own style, based on the concepts of Shintaido. For example, in the late '80s he played solo and with dancers in a concert series called Shintaido Performance and Drums. Hano recorded his solo performances from the 1988 series, and these tapes were released the following year as KI-Improvisation. In the '90s, Hano stretched out with a free jazz band called Dai So-on Gakudan (meaning "very noisy band") and, in 1998, he joined the psychedelic rock band High Rise.

The new five-track Drums album is a series of solo drum improvisations which draws from his Shintaido influences. Drum purists will love the crisp recording sound where every hi-hat is captured in pristine tones. Improvisation 2 features Hano showing his prowess with the tom-toms, dazzling us with his rapid-fire skill. Improvisation 3 is more reflective where the emphasis is on cymbals, bells and other metallic sound objects.

Shintaido originated in the '60s as a meditation to find peace of mind and body. Interestingly, it was also used as a means of passive resistance, as an exercise for picket-line demonstrators to find calm. In listening to Hano, one is struck by the forcefulness of his playing as well as the creative gentleness that pervades the music. - Philip Cheah

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This CD is priced at US$15 (including airmail postage and handling. Please note that the CD will come without the jewel case to cut down costs).

We hope sales will help to partly offset the cost of running our BigO site.

Click on the button to order the CD through PayPal.

Kindly email us at mybigo@bigozine.com with your mailing particulars and to confirm your order.

Those without PayPal can email us at mybigo@bigozine.com for ordering details.

Click here for other items in The BigO Shop.

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Peter Brotzmann and Shoji Hano
Funny Rat/s 3... Flying Crow
[Heart Lord Studio]
Price: US$15

1. Flying Crow
2. Asayake
3. Out Of The Darkness
4. On A Dark Path
5. I Now Set Out
6. Shine On Me
7. Moon Of The Mountain Edge

Peter Brotzmann - b-flat clarinet/alto/tenor-saxophone
Shoji Hano - drums

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In a lush, quiet bamboo-laden landscape in Japan, free jazz saxophone giant Peter Brotzmann met with his old friend, drummer Shoji Hano, to record their latest duo album.

Hano and German saxophonist, Brotzmann, first met in Japan in the early' 80s. Then in 1990, Hano went to Europe for the first time and played with Brotzmann. Subsequently, Hano invited Brotzmann to Japan for a tour in fall '91. That live recording became their first Funny Rat release. Considering that it's now such a difficult release to find, this new Funny Rat/s 3 is a welcome opportunity to hear these two giants again.

While Brotzmann is renowned as an energy player, Flying Crow can almost be considered mellow free. There is a roundedness in Brotzmann's sax tone, a certain composure that burns without setting off a fire. Or maybe it's Hano's gentle influence.

Unlike, say, Brotzmann's old drum collaborator Hans Bennink who plays as loud as Brotzmann, Hano tends to give Brotzmann a lot of quiet space. He fills up the silence without imposing, perhaps it's part of his Shintaido influence, his spiritual philosophy of peace in mind and body.

The album constantly alternates between sheer fire (Asayake, Shine On Me) and restful (in a mellow free jazz sense) meditation (Out Of The Darkness, Moon Of The Mountain Edge). Age catches up with the best of us. One wonders what Ayler would have sounded had he lived longer. Thank goodness we can hear Brotzmann and Hano at this beautiful turning point, two friends who have gone the distance. - Philip Cheah

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This CD is priced at US$15 (including airmail postage and handling. Please note that the CD will come without the jewel case to cut down costs).

We hope sales will help to partly offset the cost of running our BigO site.

Click on the button to order the CD through PayPal.

Kindly email us at mybigo@bigozine.com with your mailing particulars and to confirm your order.



Those without PayPal can email us at mybigo@bigozine.com for ordering details.

Click here for other items in The BigO Shop.

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Various
Hoshizora No Drive: Syd Barrett Tribute Compilation Album
(Heart Lord Studio)

Price: US$30

Disc 1
1. BabyLemonade - Big Orange
2. SeeEmilyPlay - MILCRYN'
3. NoGoodTrying - Fujii Masahide Electric
4. Scarecrow - Mond'rean
5. NoMansLand - Warsawpact
6. Feel - Morimoto Ariomi
7. InterstellarOverdrive - Koucha!
8. SeaSlug (original) - Aural Fit
9. Wined&Dined - Epigonen
10. Dominoes - notan
11. Octpus - Pubrof's Dog
12. ShininOnCrazyDiamond - T. Aoki (Up-Tight)
13. LoveSong - Shinseinen

Disc 2
1. ArnordLane - Baby & Cool Vive with Shinobu Goto
2. NoGoodTrying - Girnenmujima
3. Syd Barrett Session (Live 2007/7/7) - All-Star Cast
4. Wouldn't You Miss Me - Shinobu Goto

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Aren't the Japanese the ultimate fans? The late leader of early Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett may have been weird, quirky and whimsical but he could never possibly imagine how much the Japanese loved him… for his craziness, of course. Barrett wrote the quintessential riff-jamming track, Interstellar Overdrive. When you hear the fuzz-drenched version here, you are not prepared for a second version, the 25-minute live jam on CD 2 (yep, this is a double album). Not stopping there, Aural Fit, king of psychedelic noise in Tokyo, is so inspired that he writes Sea Slug, in the spirit of Interstellar Overdrive. The key Barrett chestnuts are here - See Emily Play and Arnold Layne (Pink Floyd's first single). But no Barrett tribute would be complete without Floyd's oswn tribute song to their late leader (who died July 7 2006), Shine On You Crazy Diamond. Here, T Aoki from psychedelic band, Up-Tight, does a heavily accented cover. The wildness, experimental anarchy and sheer noise are all here. The madcap is laughing alright. (7) - Philip Cheah

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This CD is priced at US$30.

We hope sales will help to partly offset the cost of running our BigO site.

Click on the button to order the CD through PayPal.

Kindly email us at mybigo@bigozine.com with your mailing particulars and to confirm your order.

Those without PayPal can email us at mybigo@bigozine.com for ordering details.

Click here for other items in The BigO Shop.





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