Les Rallizes Dénudés

Heavier Than a Death in the Family

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Japanese psychedelic noise rock act Les Rallizes Denudes never made an official studio recording; their entire discography seems to consist of live bootlegs. Nevertheless, they're massively influential within a certain subset of underground rock aficionados because of their undeniable impact on Keiji Haino of Fushitsusha, Asahito Nanjo of High Rise, Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple, and basically the whole 1980s-1990s Japanese psych rock scene. Rallizes' basic sound is primitive guitar rock à la the Velvet Underground crossed with the Troggs, but their simple guitar riffs are fed through so much reverb, fuzz, and echo that it's like a dub mix of psychedelic garage rock. It's genuinely disorienting, something a lot of noise rock strives for but never quite achieves. And yet, it retains a primal rock & roll throb, particularly "Night of the Assassins," which features a bassline straight out of 1950s doo wop. There's a lot of overlap between this Rallizes live album and another one, the double-disc '77 Live. The circa 1977 tracks here are in a different sequence than on the other set, and a few are missing. But Heavier has one thing '77 Live doesn't have: a version of "People Can Choose" recorded four years earlier, in 1973. That track is even noisier and more savage than the later material, serving as a clear pointer to what High Rise, Mainliner, and other in-the-red acts would be doing two decades later. Les Rallizes Denudes are the not-so-secret heart of Japanese underground rock, and Heavier Than a Death in the Family is essential listening for anyone who wants to understand that scene.

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