Music Reviews

HIGH RISE “II” reissue

HR-II-Front-Cover-Site-Scale-3Larry from In The Red Records sent me an unsolicited tape of this masterpiece in the early 1990s, and it blew me the proverbial f*ck away. It’s been subsequently widely and rightly hailed as a (the) high-water mark of the Japanese late-20th-century underground, and as a this-point-forward template for the utmost nth in blown-out psychedelic guitar onslaught rock. Any band who later dared to spurt out the sort of distorted feedback squeals Munehiro Narita patented here was immediately scoffed at and tagged a “High Rise clone” by the sort of insular, all-knowing music douchebags I have long associated myself with. Now it’s been reissued by US label Black Editions in a gorgeously none-more-black sleeve and heavyweight vinyl.

Here’s what I said about the thing on my old blog Agony Shorthand back in 2005:


“High Rise II remains their masterpiece. The debut record Psychedelic Speed Freaks was also insane & wild distortion overload, but it suffered from a Solger-like sound that was more akin to a boombox recording than something you’d wanna bang your noggin to; the 3rd record Dispersion was just fine but leveled out the chaos a bit and branched the sound into the great improvisational beyond. Others built upon that one, but continued to be a bit less frenzied and more expansive than the first few. But this one – look out.

Any true “punk” worth his punker stripes should be getting down with this record in a jiffy, because it’s one of the all-time howlers. The solos are so over-the-top distorted and the drums are caked with so much reverb, it’s a total maddening echo chamber filled with the ghosts of Greg Ginn, Davie Allen, Sterling Morrison, Stacey Sutherland and Ginger Baker. Vocals are pretty much an afterthought, but there are present on just about every track, it’s just that they’re buried under the dense layers. There’s a 13-minute “Sister Ray”-meets-“Mother Sky” classic on here called “Pop Sicle” that became a staple of their live show, sort of their own “Black To Comm” & a knockout wailer you’ve got to hear. But mostly it’s just fast, fast, fast and rawer than raw. A stone classic disc that I’d recommend to anyone with a pulse and a tolerance for maximum volume.” (Black Editions; blackeditions.com)

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