Album Review

Les Rallizes Denudes – “The Oz Tapes” – [Temporal Drift]

Louie Caliente   2/13/2023   12-inch, A Library

Previously unreleased live recordings from legendary Japanese emperors of heavy psych.

The OZ House was a cafe and performance space in Kichijoji neighborhood of Tokyo that existed for only a year, where Les Rallizes Denudes were regulars. These tracks were recorded in 1973, and kept in storage for almost 50 years. They shed new light on this enigmatic band and their notorious sound.

Unlike many of their poorly-recorded bootlegs, the OZ Tapes is not a feedback-soaked wall of distortion (except for the brief opening track). While I do enjoy the muddy lo-fi soup that the band is known for, the tracks here capture more nuance and a range of emotions that their other albums lack. The tracks here are warm with reverb, not fried. Feedback is present, but not all-encompassing. Instrumentation is actually discernible.

“The Last One” is an epic psych rock jam, the centerpiece of the album, and you get two takes of it (B1, D1). “Wilderness of False Flowers” (A3) and “Vertigo Otherwise My Conviction” (C2) are also solid high-energy freak-outs. Other tracks are prettier, mellower, and even melancholy at times. I don’t speak a word of Japanese, but the nostalgic “Memory is Far Away” (C1) makes me tear up every time I listen.

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