September 30, 2011

Possible Worlds: The Most Respectable Animal in the World

The missionary mating practice of the elephant, as imagined by the French naturalist Buffon.

No single person had a greater impact on naturalist thought in 18th-century Europe than Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. Published over the course of four decades (1749–1788), his 44-volume Histoire Naturelle attempted to chronicle and synthesize all biological knowledge. His work was widely read among the educated classes and translated into many languages. On the strength of his colorful descriptions and the fanciful illustrations of his artists, Buffon painted an awesome, if anthropomorphic, view of the world. At the same time, he was the first naturalist (of the modern era) to suggest a common ancestry between humans and apes; he believed that the earth was 3,000,000 years old; and he noted organic change in the universe. 
"If the human species be excepted, the elephant is the most respectable animal in the world. In size he surpasses all of the terrestrial creatures; and, by his intelligence he makes as near an approach to man as matter can approach spirit."

September 23, 2011

EP-4 - Partial Discography (1983-1985)

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 LPLingua 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
That cell

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.