Hundred Sights of Koenji
Rmst DLX ed.
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Vinyl, September 25, 2014
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"Not only the most brilliant of all of contemporary Japanese bands, but perhaps the greatest group currently operating in the world." -- Alternative Press "No irony here: this rocks with the teeth and heart to cut through the `scenes' and the `overground' like a knife. ... Koenjihyakkei may go down as Tatsuya Yoshida's greatest achievement: the most perfect fusion of straight prog, the avant-garde, and hardcore punk. Amen." -- Pitchfork
For the first time ever, Skin Graft Records proudly presents Koenjihyakkei's legendary debut album, Hundred Sights of Koenji, to western listeners. With the original issue on Japan's God Mountain label largely unheard and fetching enormous prices on the collector's market, Hundred Sights of Koenji returns to print in a deluxe remastered edition. Originally released in 1994, it includes the full RUINS line-up of Yoshida Tatsuya, Masuda Ryuichi, Kubota Aki, and Kuwahara Shigekazu for a futuristic journey to those hallowed fields of yore. Koenjihyakkei is Area and ELP at their most excessive, Deus Ex Machina with tempo changes multiplied by 100, and Magma at their Orff-ian choral, fusion jazz, overcharged gospel peak. Here begins a new chapter in the storied Zeuhl scene, where foreign tongues, interplanetary wars, and inhuman technique rule the roost.
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Anyway, as mentioned below, there are two versions of this album. The original is definitely very good, but the remastered Skin Graft version is the one you want. The press release claimed that Yoshida just re-did the drums but this is clearly not true. Different vocal tracks are used and the instrumentation changes on several tracks. The drums crack more and the keyboards are brighter. If anything, it's made the album even crazier than it originally was. Yoshida's drumming is even more out of control this time around, playing rhythms within the regular rhythms. That's the craziest thing about Yoshida - he was pretty much already one of the greatest drummers alive in 1989, but he seems to have gotten better every year. You need this album.
A note for those of you who already have the God Mountain version:
Koenjihyakkei's eponymously titled album "Hundred Sights of Koenji" is one of my all time favorite albums. Having been out of print and darned difficult to locate for years, I was thrilled to hear that Skin Graft was rereleasing it stateside. When I read that Yoshida Tatsuya was not only remastering the album but rerecording the drums I was intrigued. While I am not usually a fan of revisionist history, the job that has been done on this album is amazing. It was not so much remastered as completely remixed - and I mean completely. Couple this with the new drum tracks and what you have is not Koenjihyakkei's "Hundred Sights of Koenji" but an almost entirely different album: Koenjihyakkei's "Hundred Sights of Koenji v2", as valid a stand alone from the original album as if it were a live release.
If you already have the God Mountain version of this album, do yourself a favor and pick up Skin Graft's. If you haven't either, pick up Skin Graft's ... then get to work tracking down the original Japanese release. Either way, it'll blow your mind.