Label: Tenjo Sajiki Records
Released: Apr 2004
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“This is a limited reissue of the ultra rare privately released Tenjo Sajiki record Baramon. This identical reissue dates from 2003 and was released in a tiny edition of 500 copies, which sold out in a matter of weeks. But about the music: ‘Some of the most exciting and evocative music of the early ’70s in Japan was born out of the avant-garde theatre groups that had played such a central role in the ’60s ferment. One of the most important was the Tenjo Sajiki Company formed by poet, film maker, boxing fan and all-around agent provocateur Terayama Shuji. Renowned for Living-Theatre inspired audience participation happenings and extreme street theatre designed to shock the bourgeois; by 1970 the group had already become a haven for runaway teens, and a focus for police investigation. Terayama was canny enough to realize that co-opting their music was an ideal way to hijack adolescent energies and he consistently used heavy amplified rock to jump-start his chaotic, socially critical acid operas. By 1972,Baramon saw J.A. Seazer and Kuni Kawauchi (of the Happenings Four and Kirikyogen) splitting the compositional scores on a bizarre musical manifesto for sexual liberation. So far so Hair, but rather than a tribute to free love, Terayama instead composed an eloquent plea for the liberation of the sexual underclass suffering discrimination, in the form of a ‘gay revolution.’ It wasn’t Terayama’s first engagement with the Tokyo queer scene — one of the earliest plays he wrote for the Tenjo Sajiki was a vehicle for transvestite actress and chanson singer Akihiro Miwa, who was rumored to have had a dalliance with Yukio Mishima. Baramon’s opening is a blast — a densely narrated and impassioned call to arms set to a Nazi military march that links sexual second class citizenship to imperialist social control and warmongering. Featuring the actual voices of numerous smutty, cross-dressing scene queens, the record’s content was deemed so subversive that it was only sold under the counter of Tokyo gay bars. Like a biker backstage at the Cage Aux Folles, fuzzed out guitar riffs and heavy swelling organ-based psych rock tracks rub shoulders with the lachrymose ballads and tawdry, mascara smudging chanson still favored in certain Shinjuku nighteries.’” - The Wire, Alan Cummings.