Sometimes the unbelievable happens. In March 1996, a 30-year old noise band from Canada who, prior to this date had never played outside Canada -- except for a Paris gig in 1969 -- toured Japan, playing in Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto in front of very enthusiastic audiences, even appearing on Japanese television. This tour by the Nihilist Spasm Band was made possible by the dedication of record label Alchemy Records who released the group's strongest effort What About Me (1992) and in 1996 reissued their three long-deleted LPs: No Record (1968), Vol. 2 (1978), and 7x-x=x (1986). Live in Japan contains excerpts of the three Japanese live performances, plus two tracks from a studio session in Osaka. Drummer Aya Onishi and guitarist Jojo Hiroshige guest on one track each. Only five members of the usually seven-piece Nihilist Spasm Band made it to Japan. Drummer Greg Curnoe died after the recording of What About Me. As for Murray Favro, he couldn't go with the band for personal reasons. He is credited nonetheless, as a guitar solo taped before the trip was used in the shows. Live in Japan boasts good improvisations over texts from What About Me ("Indecision of the Night" is particularly strong) and old favorites like "No Canada" and "Stupidity." The painstakingly slow and tortured "La Mama Lament" is a highlight, as is the studio track "Better than Nothing," while "Murray" and "Here-Not Here" are over-stretched. Overall, this live release is a very worthy addition to this band's very limited discography.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture