Boomkat Product Review:
NYC’s amazing Blank Forms Editions give a gripping introduction to Kazuki Tomokawa’s avant-folk vitality, documenting the early years of the “screaming philosopher” via his first three albums, all collected and reissued internationally for the first time - think Nick Drake meets Keiji Haino
Completely new to our ears, Kazuki Tomokawa’s reamarkable vocal range - from raging to soothing - makes no less than a memorable first impression in this comprehensive early years salvo. Spanning three foundational albums for Harvest Records, ‘Finally, His First Album’ (1975), ‘Straight from the Throat’ (1976), and ‘A String of Paper Cranes Clenched between my Teeth’ (1977), the set plunges us into a highly personalised blend of folk-rock and psychedelia, sung, hollered and crooned in the artist’s native Akita dialect, a highly regional vernacular of north Japan rarely heard beyond the prefecture, and even less often set to music.
From the frankly alarming impact of his white hot hollers set to swaying acoustic guitar on ‘The Flower of Youth’ in his debut album, to the possessed wails and almost punk-folk thrust of his 2nd set, and the lysergic shimmer of his 3rd album, Kabuki’s collected works chart a scorchingly singular mind at work, and clearly justify the description of his music as possessing the “personality of a hydrogen bomb” by ultraleft band the Brain Police. After immersing in his ability to erupt from lilting folk to brain-slap psych in ‘Souls’, or unleash streams of fiery psych blues on ‘A Fitting Adolescence’, and practically shred his fingers and throat in the likes of ‘Kill or Be Killed’, we also get a clear sense of why he’s also described as “A poet, soothsayer, bicycle race tipster, actor, prolific drinker”, as music of this sort of striking energy and variety usually comes from a proper character. One can only imagine that a drinking session with Kazuki would be top craic, possibly ending in a raging barney and a song, and it’s not hard to hear why he would be represented by Tokyo’s premier psych/freak label, P.S.F. Records for decades from the ‘90s.