BOOK TWO: Chapter 7



Note: Their career has been down in the dumps ever since bass player Mariyasu Wakabayashi helped hijack a JAL Boeing 737 back in 1970 (see Book Two, Chapter Five). Their last official release was a double live LP recorded back in 1977. And nobody even knows quite what the official name of their band is, or even what its most popular French form means because there are no such things as 'rallizes' in the French language. And yet the cult that surrounds Les Rallizes Denudés increases in size year after year. This is because, in a world where the sacrilegious reunions of former punks like the Velvet Underground and the Stooges have destroyed utterly the myth of their legendary non-conformity, devotees of Les Rallizes's Takeshi Mizutani and his black-clad cohorts can relax safe in the knowledge that their erstwhile heroes would rather commit collective hara kiri than sell out their gruelling 37-year-long self-imposed isolation up in the wildernesses of northern Japan by doing anything remotely as gauche as releasing a new record. Combine all of this attitude with leader Mizutani's intense devotion to re-recording the same small canon of material over and over again, and you have the blueprint for a rock'n'roll cult that transcends all others. When French movie maker Ethan Mousike trekked across the globe to make a documentary about the Rallizes (and at his own expense I hasten to add), Mizutani refused to allow him to film the band close-up, insisting instead that Mousike set up his tripod in the dressing room, thereby allowing the camera lens to focus on less than one-third of the stage. When, after twenty minutes of this suffocatingly boring footage had elapsed, Mizutani contemptuously jumped off stage and kicked the door shut. our heroic French director chose not to remonstrate with the churlish Mizutani, preferring instead to allow the film stock to conclude naturally, thereby allowing Les Rallizes Denudés's errant metaphor its full reign.

When, in November 2003, I showed the complete Mousike movie at my two-day festival Rome Wasn't Burned in a Day, at London's Lyric Theatre, the theatre's tiny cinema was rammed with Rallizes freaks for over an hour before the movie was due to be shown. Sociopaths to a man, these fundamentalists stared straight ahead, fidgeting occasionally, but barely communicating with one another. When the movie concluded, nearly every one of these Rallizes buffs headed straight for the theatre's exit, having no interest in any of the other many underground feasts that I had prepared to unleash. Taj Mahal Travellers? SunnO)))? Van der Graaf Generator? Vibracathedral Orchestra? Forget about W I like to imagine that each one then returned to his (there are no female Rallizes fans) home, where each carefully surveyed then carefully counted his large collection of Rallizes bootlegs before scurrying bedwards. While I'm sure this imagined reality of mine bears little resemblance to the truth, it does, however, fit in well with the overall mythology of Les Rallizes Denudés and their devoted horde, and in that sense my vision is probably accurate enough. For, like the lives of the Keltic saints, the best way to tell the story of Les Rallizes Denudés is through a bizarre combination of fact, hearsay and outright hagiography. Right, we're gonna go back...

'The Radical Music Black Gypsy Band'

Imagine a high-school band playing the bass-heavy stentorian outro of Television's 'Marquee Moon' title track in 25-minute bursts, while a Blue Cheer-informed (Leigh Stephens period, natch) be-shaded guitar moron with waist-length black hair unloads over the track the kind of pent-up white-noise sonic fury that entirely buries said backing track under an avalanche of mung. Imagine that, from time to time, that same skinny moron temporarily interrupts his invasion-of-Manchuria guitar techniques in order to bring focus to the chords of this so-called song via a series of charmingly unpleasant croons, hiccups, yelps and whooping sub-sub-Buddy Hollyisms in an Alan Vega stylee. Next, imagine a second song just as long as the first that takes its form and sound from the same Ur-spring whence the first was drawn, but which is propelled by a curiously catchy soul-standard bass riff lifted directly from Little Peggy March's 1963 hit single 'I Will Follow Him'. Imagine that this music is being played by a quartet of musicians, each of whom is a carbon copy of the singer/guitarist, each be-shaded, each tall and lanky, each black-clad and sullen, and you're close to approaching the world of Les Rallizes Denudés. For the scene that I have described above could have taken place at any time between 1969 and 1990, and none of us would have been any the wiser. For so strong is the fundamentalist aesthetic stance that Rallizes's leader Takeshi Mizutani adopted back in 1969, that all future members of Les Rallizes Denudés - all 600,000 of them - have happily complied with their leader's rules just to get near him long enough to stand downwind of that auto-panned guitar maelstrom that he so effortlessly unleashes. And such is the fundamentalist nature of Takeshi Mizutani's recording art that the other members of the band rarely make a difference to Rallizes's sound; they can't because Mizutani limits their playing by imposing extraordinarily tight restrictions, both to players and recording engineers. And in this paranoid adherence to Mizutani's secret formula lies the greatness of Les Rallizes Denudés. For it has ensured that no one has been able to judge a Rallizes song by any other standards than the band's own. Indeed, they could do a note-for-note copy of another band's song and it could only sound like Les Rallizes Denudés. Okay, now I've got you intrigued about Mizutani's formula, I shall slightly deflate you all by revealing its incredible simplicity:

  1. Never record in a studio.
  2. Play only with musicians for whom even the slightest deviation from the riff will most certainly be calamitous.
  3. Never release records (never ever).
  4. Persist for three decades until the outside world catches on.

So how do we actually know of Les Rallizes Denudés if they don't even release records? Through bootlegs, bootlegs and more bootlegs. Indeed, Les Rallizes Denudés has operated in this manner for so long now that both musicians and fans know so far in advance what to expect from each other that there's even a caste system within that world of bootlegs. Yup, while certain Rallizes LPs are considered so much less bootleggy than others that they've almost become official in the minds of fans, others are just dismissed as cash-ins, re-runs and ... well, just plain bootlegs. If all this sounds a little cretinous, then you'd better turn your attention to another part of this book and come back when you're feeling less tense. For Les Rallizes Denudés operate only at this level, at that unlikely meeting point between total nihilism and utter blandness, a doorway you'd never guess would even need to exist until you discover it. But be in no doubt whatsoever that Les Rallizes Denudés is a rock'n'roll band of world importance. For, unlike many so-called legendary rock acts, this band has, down the years, delivered umpteen classic songs to our door, songs that our children's children will no doubt still be hiccupping, yelping and crooning in fifty years. For while the sonic delivery of Les Rallizes Denudés owes its sound to the avant-garde, Mizutani's songs are themselves as focused and folk-based as those of Lou Reed. Indeed, a solo acoustic Mizutani show would be a rather excellent proposition full of catchy choruses and 'he's playing our song' moments. But, in this final stage of my opening gambit, and before I take you all on a historical trawl through Rallizesville, I should make this plea to newcomers to their mighty canon of work. The music of Les Rallizes Denudés demands total attention, and without that attention this band is nothing. Put their records on as background music and they fail utterly. But play albums such as HEAVIER THAN A DEATH IN THE FAMILY, LIVE '77, BLIND BABY HAS ITS MOTHERS EYES, FUCKED UP & NAKED in the darkness of your lonely room, and you will experience yourself being sucked up into the ether with ne'er a stain left as evidence of your former presence here.

A Refusenik Named Neesima Facilitates a Refusenik Named Mizutani

The story of Les Rallizes Denudés begins on the campus of Kyoto's highly respected Doshishi University, one of Japan's oldest teaching establishments and notable throughout its islands as 'a living testament to the courage of the human spirit'. [1] Built in 1875 as Doshishi Eigakko (Doshishi Academy), the university was founded by a former samurai, Joseph Hardy Neesima, who'd stowed away aboard an American ship eleven years previously when such an act was, under Japanese law, still punishable by death. Returning to Japan with American university degrees and a profound love of Western freedom, Neesima founded Doshishi on precisely those democratic values of questioning authority and demanding change where necessary.

It was into this atmosphere of learning and liberal ideas that nineteen-year-old Takeshi Mizutani stepped in October 1967 to commence his degree studies in sociology and French literature. The young Mizutani was typical of many post-war Japanese intellectuals, having rejected the all-pervasive American popular culture presently Coca-Cola-ising his country in favour of French culture. Similar to the USA in its revolutionary beginnings, French democracy offered a far deeper well of literature and political thought from which to draw. Besides, there was an added existentialist nihilism running through post-war French society that was particularly appealing to these young urban Japanese whose own childhoods had been filled with ghastly experiences of picking their way through the devastation of their local neighbourhoods.

At Doshishi, Takeshi Mizutani soon joined the university's 'light music group', where the more intellectual students were currently obsessed with Japan's burgeoning folk scene. This obsession had initially grown out of an irritation with the ultra-commercialism of Japan's Group Sounds bands, who took their musical cues only from Britain and America. For Kyoto's anti-American intellectuals, folk music was the sound of refusal, of protest, of determination to change society's status quo. And in Kyoto's jazz and folk kissa (coffee shop) scene, the impressionable young Mizutani instantly fell in love with the older black-clad existentialists who smoked only French cigarettes, read French-language copies of works by Jean-Paul Sartre, Antonin Artaud and Jacques Derrida, and spun French gypsy violinist Stephane Grappelli's dark minor-chord folk jazz endlessly on the huge chrome jukeboxes. The sounds, the smells, the darkness of the scene all appealed to Mizutani's own dark soul and, in November '67, the singer formed his first folk-based band with four likeminded university friends: bass player Moriyasu Wakabayashi, drummer Takashi Kato and rhythm guitarist Takeshi Nakamura.

Their initial blueprint for the band was Tokyo's existentialist folk quartet the Jacks, whose notoriety had grown throughout 1967 through its band members' vociferous rejection of all things commercial. Indeed, throughout '67, Japan's left-wing press had hailed the Jacks as the absolute antidote to all things Group Sounds. For, unlike media whores such as the Tigers' Julie Saw ad a who would dress and act in any manner that their management requested, the Jacks' sullen lead singer Yoshio Hayakawa wore his black hair as long as possible, hid behind perpetual Ray-Ban sunglasses, and refused even to be interviewed, fascinating journalists with such defiant comments as: 'We don't have any goal to be famous' and 'It's a dirty world'. The Jacks surrounded themselves with highly intelligent women, referred to these women as their muses and even wrote songs around the words of the female poet Yazuko Aisawa. Double-bass player Hitoshi Tanino claimed the Jacks' severe attitudes had caused them to be ostracised even from their own local clubs, and the band called themselves 'outsiders at the folk jamboree', a concept that resonated powerfully in the mind of the young Mizutani.

Determined to be even more 'outsider' and anti-American than the Jacks, Mizutani composed several songs with French titles such as 'Les Bulles de Savon' (soap bubbles) and 'La Mal Rouge', after a kind of alcoholic sickness that he'd recently experienced. Then his as-yet-unnamed young band began their first stumbling rehearsals over Christmas 1967. One evening at the jazz kissa, however, Mizutani and bass player Wakabayashi were introduced to Yoko Nakamura and Tatsuo Komatsu, two founding members of Kyoto's Gendai Gekijo (Modern Arts Society), [2] Kyoto's legendary underground theatre company. Formed six years previously, in '1962, by seven Doshishi graduates, Gendai Gekijo were a defiant bunch of radicals in their late twenties whose portentous and highfalutin aim was, according to their company's manifesto, 'to deny all existing theatre styles'. With their French affectations and tendency to speak in a lazy Franco-Japanese pseudo patois, the company's members had an immediate impact on the intrigued Mizutani gang, who quickly began to adopt the theatre troupe's manner of speech. Then, as a further declaration of unity, Mizutani decided to name his band 'Les Rallizes Denudés', one of the Gendai Gekijo's favourite fake-French slang terms for a stupid person (anyone who was a 'valise denudé' (empty suitcase) was an airhead not worthy of consideration). Encouraged by the interest being shown by these much older beatnik types, Les Rallizes Denudés honed down their sound and gratefully accepted the help of Gendai Gekijo's lighting designer Tatsuo Komatsu, who believed that the band could be hugely successful. At the end of May 1968, a demo recording was made with Komatsu featuring Mizutani's own compositions, 'La Mal Rouge', 'Otherwise My Conviction' and 'Les Bulles de Savon'. But the band's lack of experience, Komatsu's negligible input and the unsympathetic studio sound yielded embarrassing results. With Mizutani's strained and highly tuneless singing voice exposed so high in the mix, the Rallizes sounded not like their heroes the Jacks, but like some weak American garage band whose fuzz guitarist had deserted them. Mentally scarred by this abject failure, Mizutani vowed to keep away from studios in future and keep his warblings strictly within the concert hall.

The 'Summertime Blues' Volte-Face

For the kind of Commie Francophiles that Rallizes claimed to be, music should hardly have been the sole major concern in the summer of '68, what with the rather more satisfying news that the Paris student riots had caused the terrified General de Gaulle to seek sanctuary in neighbouring West Germany. For Mizutani, however, two events during July 1968 drew a line under the guitarist's entire past, and created within him a genuine feeling that this was Year Zero. For it was now, just two months after the whole Rallizes recording debacle, that Mizutani received a musical revelation on hearing Blue Cheer's debut LP VINCEBUS ERUPTUM and the Velvet Underground's second album WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT. Already a fan of the Velvets' first LP and of Lou Reed's harsh criticisms of the American flower-power movement, Mizutani was so overwhelmed by the seventeen-minute brain death of 'Sister Ray' and the free-form guitar chaos of 'I Heard Her Call My Name', that the singer believed that he had just been handed a psychic mind map with which to plot his entire future. Furthermore, Blue Cheer's debut album, also released in July '68, contained more of that same bile, as feedback and ineptitude issued forth from the speakers and engulfed the room. The guitarist summoned the members of Gendai Gekijo and explained his new strategy.

With the technical help of Gendai Gekijo, Les Rallizes Denudés played their first show in August '68 like a low-budget, more primitive form of Andy Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable. The company's lighting whiz Tatsuo Komatsu operated strobes and mirror balls throughout the show, while the others danced Gerard Malanga/Mary Woronov-like at the front of the stage. Ecstatic with the effects created by Gendai Gekijo, Mizutani decided that this multi-media approach was his way forward, and the new term 'total sensory assault' became his modus operandi. In the short space of two highly effective gigs, the band became a genuine force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by a live recording of the amazing nineteen minutes of 'Smokin' Cigarette Blues', which revealed the Rallizes to be an atonal free-rock blitz of hollow tom-toms and 'I Heard Her Call My Name' guitar mayhem. Unfortunately, all the members of Gendai Gekijo freaked out, complaining that the band played at a volume too loud for them to perform comfortably. The nihilistic Mizutani was delighted. No one in Japan had ever accused a rock'n'roll band of being too loud before; quite the opposite, in fact. Historically, Japanese entertainers wished only to please and impress their paying audience enough for them to return next time. Sensing that he was on to something special, Mizutani refused to budge on the question of volume; this was 'total sensory assault', doncha know? So the idealistic members of Gendai Gekijo adopted a temporary policy of wearing earplugs while they operated the light show and special FX, and dutifully grooved as the feedback rearranged their molecules.

Between September '58 and April 1959, the Rallizes practised their stagecraft as Mizutani built upon his own mythology by printing up a series of dark moody press flyers for forthcoming Rallizes shows, with photos that cast him as the nihilistic God of Phaseshifter Guitar. Emblazoned across Mizutani's sullen and pouting mush was this alienated message writ large: 'For those young people - including you - who live this modern agonising adolescence and who are wanting the true radical music, I sincerely wish the dialogue accompanied by piercing pain will be born and fill this recital hall'. From the words of this flyer, it becomes evident that Mizutani had, even at this early stage, already surrendered the poetic side of his character to that nihilistic Bringer of Oblivion that manifested whenever he wielded a solid-bodied electric guitar. Moreover, as the band gradually received pressure from associates and promoters to take a name with more meaning, so the ever cantankerous Mizutani adopted the entirely meaningless Hadaka no Rallizes (The Naked Rallizes) as an occasional substitute for the equally mysterious Les Rallizes Denudés. If Japanese was the perfect language in which to hide multiple meanings, then Mizutani would become a Prince of the Opaque via his ingenious use of regular Japanese, Franco-Japanese beatnik slang and that wonderfully hideous Japanglish, so beloved by Japanese ad men and media types.

'Unexpected Events' in Building A

In the typically patronising spirit of the times, 1969 had seen the commencement of an international programme known as 'Understanding among Youth', a well-meaning but ultimately shallow attempt by the Western adult world to understand the problems faced by teenagers. As Japan's urban authorities were already being overwhelmed by the everyday arrival in Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Nagoya of thousands of teenage futens, however, no attention was being paid to implementing that youth programme. No attention, that is, except on the ultra-liberal campus of Doshishi University, where the authorities now chose to honour the spirit of the 'Understanding among Youth' scheme by organising their own 'Barricades-a-Go-Go' rock festival in the university's Building A. And so, on 12th April 1969, unaware of Les Rallizes Denudés's recent rejection of folk, jazz and French gypsy music, the university authorities booked the band as its headline act, to be supported by two local bands, Mustapha and Mustang. Little is remembered of Mustapha, but the six-piece Mustang tore the place down with their high-energy garage rock and extremely long hair. Indeed, Mustang was a real paradox, for they looked like a much longer-haired version of the Rolling Stones, but wore the clichéd uniforms of some dutiful Group Sounds act. Furthermore, having scored a big hit in the Oricon Top 40 the previous year with their single 'Mustang Baby', Mustang had recently become the talk of Kyoto when the band's singer Ringo Yamamoto had interviewed Mick Jagger for Music Life magazine.

For the 500 people in the audience of Building A, however, no one was in any doubt as to who the headliner was, as the Rallizes obliterated the audience with their avalanche of sound and lights. In the audience were the owners of Kyoto's highly respected Gallery Sagittarius, who came backstage after the show and invited Mizutani to headline their forthcoming festival portentously entitled 'Menzaifu to Shiteno Risaitru' (Recital As Pardoner). Still reeling from the thrill of hearing the live version of 'Smokin' Cigarette Blues', Mizutani chose to record the gallery show with the intention of releasing it on vinyl.

During the summer of '69, however, Rallizes came right off the rails, as Mizutani's decision to avoid studios garnered mounting hostility from bass player Wakabayashi and rhythm guitarist Nakamura. And when, on a whim, Nakamura threatened to quit, Mizutani blandly accepted his resignation. In August, several new members were auditioned and invited to join only to be jettisoned even before a show was played. Drummer Takashi Kata remained firm, but even Wakabayashi absconded briefly before returning once more. And then, on 18th October, a flyer appeared casting Mizutani as 'Nippon Gypsey '69'. Describing the band as 'the much talked about Radical Music Black Gypsy Band' the Rallizes were back with 'new members - new style' as the flyer proclaimed. Gone were the seven members of Gendai Genkijo, replaced instead by a new highly confident noise band dressed in exotic stage gear designed by Kyoto's pop-art designer Kazuko Ryoke.

By now, so much was expected of Les Rallizes Denudés that Gendai Gekijo's Tatsuo Komatsu had taken over as manager. But interviewers found Mizutani's bland, stylised answers boring and few pieces were ever printed about the band. One journalist, interviewing Mizutani in January 1970, declared that he missed the multimedia action that Gendai Genkijo had injected into the shows, and demanded to know what had become of them. Eventually, manager Komatsu grew so tired of Mizutani's refusal to answer even this simple question that he snapped, claiming the band no longer needed the support of actors and dancers for their 'guerrilla performances'. Komatsu's rant concluded with a very peculiar and prescient comment: 'Sometimes you have a guitar, sometimes you arm yourself... protest songs are boring.'

Never Mind the Feedback, Here's the Hijack

In the early morning of 31st March 1970, Takeshi Mizutani's life changed for ever when Rallizes Denudés's bass player Moriyasu Wakabayashi took part in the infamous Yodo-go aeroplane hijacking (please turn to Book Two, Chapter Five, for a detailed account of these bizarre events). Unfortunately for Mizutani and Les Rallizes Denudés, Wakabayashi's actions guaranteed that the band would thereafter be reduced to no more than a footnote in an international scandal. Following the hijacking, the other members of Rallizes disappeared from sight as Mizutani found himself pursued by Japanese federal agents, who never arrested him but observed his actions from a distance. However, the presence of many US nationals aboard the Yodo-go inevitably brought the CIA to Japan, and these gentlemen were far from casual in their observations of Mizutani. Finally, the Rallizes leader went into hiding, moving into a friend's Tokyo apartment in the highly exclusive Aoyama district. He talked of embarking on a solo career, or of re-forming the Rallizes as an acoustic band, but ultimately his mind was fried from the hijack fallout. As member after new band member came and went, Mizutani invited his friends Chahbo and Fujio from Murahatchibu to become his backing band, only to have them temporarily steal the name and do Rallizes shows without him! On being added to the highly important 'Rock in Highland' festival, a huge and prestigious event featuring such massive bands as the Mops and Flower Travellin' Band, Mizutani it was who got the blame when only one hundred people turned up. Everyone stayed away because of the presence of the Rallizes, said the promoters to themselves, and they were most probably correct. This 'radical existentialist gypsy' was swiftly becoming a figure of fun, a forlorn failure whom the Japanese rock'n'roll scene needed to pass by.

In August 1970, when Mizutani bumped into the singer/songwriter Masato Minami, whilst out walking in Tokyo's Shibuya district, the two decided to jam together and even discussed forming a band as they set up their equipment. But as soon as Mizutani's colossal phaseshifter and guitar feedback kicked the walls down, the stunned Minami 'realised such an idea was impossible'. [3] Determined to let his depressed friend down as lightly as was possible, Minami invited Mizutani to contribute guitar to his new LP KAIKISEN (Tropic of Capricorn). But when Minami's album went on to be the highly successful beginning of a high-profile career, the embittered Mizutani felt even more rejected, and continued to remain unrecorded and unreleased throughout 1970.

For most of 1971, Mizutani remained holed up in the Tokyo apartment, venturing out only to buy milk and other essentials. Paranoid and deluded, he was by now convinced that the world was against him. Four years of playing rock'n'roll had got him nothing but a CIA tail, and all kinds of lesser talents were by now headlining tours across Japan. Worse still, by late April '71 , even Mizutani's most reliably unreliable friends Fujio and Chahbo from Murahatchibu had successfully navigated through the perils of studio recording and had the promise of a record deal. Occasionally, a much-reduced Rallizes would play at the Oz club in Tokyo, but no one came because the world had really moved on. Solo shows sandwiched between such class acts as the Mops, Blues Creation, Zuno Keisatsu and Speed, Glue & Shinki only further reduced the spirit of this great nihilist, this sonic executioner. And slowly Mizutani faded away. His only champion was Oz's sound technician Doronco (Covered in Mud), but even he was preoccupied with publishing his own Communist free newspaper. Once, Mizutani's acolyte Keiji Heino tried to revive Mizutani's career by forming with him a power trio that played only early Blue Cheer songs, but even this idea died before show-time and the tapes went missing. By 1973, even the Oz club had gone bankrupt and Les Rallizes Denudés, now managed by Doronco - himself now the bass player - found themselves with nowhere left to play in Tokyo.

The Underground Goes Underground

And so Takeshi Mizutani took the path of all unsung rock'n'roll genii. He went underground, retired from the world, and - in the minds of the general public - disappeared for ever into the abyss. He walked out into the Wilderness and stayed there. He rode off into the sunset and over the horizon. He sailed to the edge of the world and was consumed by Midgardsorm. He walked northwards to the foot of Mt Osorezan, where his followers built for him a stone chamber in the lee of that sacred mountain, where so many of Japan's ancestors' spirits reside. Suffice it to say that Mizutani thereafter eked out a livelihood through stealth, courage of his convictions, the goodwill of his followers led by Doranco, and that intuitive genius shared by all truly Gnostic visionaries that know their world exists only in a future world, in a time 'Yet to Come'. Intuitively, Mizutani grasped that only once the world had been through several chaotic decades could his sonic clamour be judged as anything less than horrible noise, for the static hiss that pervaded every Rallizes recording to become understood and accepted as integral to Mizutani's trip.

For most of the '70s, Mizutani occupied a place of suspended animation, where - like Von LMO and Sun Ra - he resided in an incubation chamber outside time and space, waiting, forever waiting. At times, opportunities presented themselves for a show of strength and value to take place. But even when joined on bass by his old Kyoto cohort and former Zuno Keisatsu member Hiroshi Nar for a magical show entitled 'Sunset Glow' at a highland ski resort, such was the bad luck of the Rallizes that the festival took place during a typhoon. The organisers, fearful of an avalanche, insisted the band turn down the volume. When Mizutani refused, the terrified crowd fled to the safety of the funicular railway. [4]

In 1977, Mizutani was brought word that English punk rock was ushering in a new dawn, and his acolytes spoke in hushed tones of this being Mizutani's time. The artist himself, however, did not hold his breath, for he had also heard that these supposedly radical audiences were nothing more than weekenders out on the carouse, part-timers who 'for the sake of appearances take on the superficial aspects of the quest'. [5] If Rallizes's day had really dawned, thought Mizutani, then why am I also hearing reports that Suicide were attacked while supporting the Clash, that Nico was bottled off while supporting Siouxsie & the Banshees? Occasionally, a small new crowd of black-clad existentialists would lure the guitarist out of his isolation chamber and drive him to some location where, surrounded by beautiful young things, the God of the Phaseshifter would once more re-awaken the lost spirits of the Ancient Days Before Yodo-go as the eager new be-shaded backing band dutifully tore off yet another twenty-five minutes of Little Peggy March's 'I Will Follow Him', And every single appearance Mizutani made was gathered together and collected on tape, then edited and presented on slabs of label-less 12" vinyl, which were passed around between believers. Mizutani's friend Fujio, being by now without Murahatchibu and being also of a similar mental persuasion, contacted Mizutani and even briefly joined him for shows in August 1980, creating a twin-guitar eruption that sent the vinyl hoarders mental with rapture. But the believers within the band [6] could not accept Fujio as Mizutani's sacred Twin, and, by March 1981, the experiment had blown up and Mizutani had returned to his chamber in the lee of Mt Osorezan. Mizutani, this great nihilistic spirit, this sonic executioner, bided his time as humanity - having had their ears syringed by post-punk and No Wave - gradually became more used to sonic imbalance. And some called it Lo-Fi, and celebrated it. And others called it No-Fi and worshipped it. And all the Rallizes acolytes declared that Mizutani's time was finally here. But their hero had slipped quietly away to France, remaining there for five years to play with free sax player Arthur Doyle. And no one knew his precise whereabouts. And his inaccessibility made them yearn for their lost hero and his cult grew and grew. And Tokyo underground record stores began to sell more and more vinyl bootlegs than ever before, and still Mizutani's legend grew. And by the early twenty-first century, websites had emerged dedicated only to Les Rallizes Denudés, websites whose webmasters traced each arduous step of their hero, and would not accept that Mizutani spent his days in suspended animation. Several obsessives drove up to Mt Osorezan and searched out Mizutani's chamber, determined to bring their hero back to civilisation, in chains if necessary, until the rehabilitation of their hero became the mission of every Rallizes fanatic. But despite the appearance of bizarre new records with exotic and frightening names, nothing could lure Mizutani out of hiding, for he knew that his time had not yet arrived.

Footnotes: (go back)

  1. Doshishi University profile.
  2. In 1968, Modern Arts Society was comprised of Eiko 'Hideko' Kubota, Tatsuya Shimizu, Yoko Nakamura, Kenichi Hikawa, Tatsuo Komatsu and two others now unknown.
  3. Quote from Minami's website at: http://apia-net.com/minami
  4. Thereafter, Hiroshi Nar became destitute, fetching up in the '80s owning no more than a futon and a single Amon Düül 2 cassette (personal communication from Alan Cummings).
  6. 'All the members of the band just worshipped Mizutani' (Fujio Yamagauchi).