September 23, 2011
EP-4 formed in 1980 out of a scene at Club Modern in Kyoto, mainly a collaboration between Kaoru Sato and keyboardist/tape manipulator Banana Kawashima. Sato had already released an album earlier that same year as RNA Organism for Osaka's Vanity Records. RNA Organism, along with the rest of the Vanity catalog, has a sound unto itself, as though from a parallel plane and more difficult to put into words. EP-4 are easier to define, having described their own sound as "cool, no-sweat funk." While it's true funk is the driving force, farther-flung realms are visited. Skeletal grooves become increasingly drenched in compressed and distorted sound, evolve almost biologically. EP-4 is, as it were, the 'power of the four elements,'
The band released an LP—Lingua Franca-1 (昭和大赦)—on both a major and independent label simultaneously, using secret shows and other guerrilla marketing strategies to get the word out. The album name caused contentious political debate, even calls for censorship, when it was learned the subtitle was 昭和崩御 [Death to Emperor Showa]. EP-4 eventually changed it to 昭和大赦 [Amnesty for Emperor Showa], a kind of underhanded capitulation. They saved the more treasonous subtitle for Lingua Franca-X (昭和崩御), which came with a strange booklet of poetry:
Revelations of the salt which flows in flesh,
The white trace revealed like a secret mark
It calls on belief in a creative sea,
The possibility of the first Christ figure
We look at the sea's solaris dream
The human love of distant objects
Has changed into concrete
The love which does not designate distance as distance
—from "Life Tides" [rough translation]
After Lingua Franca-1, EP-4 released a handful of 12"s, cassettes, live bootlegs, and singles before disbanding around 1985(?). Sato and Banana played together in a few other projects, notably: Chiko Hige × Kaoru Sato (a collaboration with the drummer of Friction and formerly the Contortions), and Tako, a one-off album of acid punk, new wave, bizarre sound experiments, and a motley amalgam of other weirdness.
•Lingua Franca-1 (昭和大赦) LP (1983)
•Lingua Franca-2 (1983??)
•Lingua Franca-X (昭和崩御) 12" (1984)
•Found Tapes 12" (1984)
•Five to One 12" (1985)
•The Crystal Monster 12" (1985)
•Seifuku Nikutai ??? (1983)
•Multilevel Holarchy: A Collection of Live Recordings from 1980 to 1983 12" (1983)
•Costume, Corps, Copy (live cassette) (1983)
•appears on VA//Case of Telegraph: Product 2 (1983)
•5.21 split 7" (w/ Grim Skip) (1985)
(Holler if you know of additional information or can otherwise fill in the blanks.)
• My biggest thanks to Music Is A Better Noise for giving us the bulk of EP-4's catalog and many other artifacts from Japan's underground.
• Readers of Japanese can find a wealth of additional EP-4 info and materials here.