I’m neither Japanophile or -phobe, so it’s by chance this week that I’ve been reading Haruki Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore and listening to Boris’s latest record, Pink. Which made me dig up their countrymen&women’s the Boredoms’ Seadrum/House of Sun, specifically the track Seadrum, a monstrous beast offering an outpouring of free piano, wordless singing, and two whirring, pounding drummers allegedly recorded kneee deep in the Hokkaido surf. Imagine Ministry (whom I hate, but useful here) covered by Alice Coltrane on piano instead of harp, especially with her monumental “Journey into Satchidananda” in mind. And yeah, that’s Pharoah Sanders.
Which gets me centered in the recent rise of Japanese psychedelia. Is it culture-wide? Kafka on the Shore, like most of Murakami’s work, has a surreal, otherworldly taste that so far, in the first 100 pages, works well: sudden group hypnosis a la Picnic at Hanging Rock, brain damamged humans conversing with cats and dogs, missing memory for a teen runaway, wartime mystery. And no one hates cellphones.
His short stories have become so predictably strange that they seem almost formulaic, and he’s let himself become ungrounded at times, but Murakami’s been mostly successful at tricking readers of Literature into reading fantasy fiction. Jonathan Carroll’s been doing it for equally as long or longer, but he suffers a lack of translation, or something, which keeps him unfairly genre-ghetto-ized, despite his leaving the USA for Austria long ago (or is he back?).
Oh, and here’s a taste of Boris’s Pink, if you know what I mean. In Japanese, but if it was in Uzbeki your pelvis would still understand:
Boris – Read
PS I’ve now heard two tracks from TV on the Radio’s leaked forthcoming, untitled-as-yet record, and this time, fortunately, they’re pretty swell tunes (‘Tonight’ and ‘Wolf Like Me’ but find ’em somewhere-not-here). Which is a relief, considering that all the promise of their debut EP was squandered on their dreadful debut long player, which I bought on vinyl and soon after was arrested trying to stuff it up the butt of an incontinenent rhino at the Bronx Zoo. The New sounds like they’ve been digging Brazilian drums, some afropop, some Guitar. I can imagine the reviews it’ll get: techno barbershop! Curis Mayfield sings for Aphex Twin! Tony Randall on Special K with his balls in the mouth of Bernard Hermann!
I just said that, didn’t I.