10 Obscure But Brilliant Japanese Psych Rock Bands – Including The Original Ghost

As krautrock took hold of the German mainstream music scene in the late 60s and early 90s, a similar psychedelic revolution was taking place in Japan – diverse but complementary, utopian in spirit, but finding that sense of wonderment in legendary pastoral pasts as well as fabulous futures. This exploratory urge has continued to this day, making Japan one of the richest sources of psych rock in the world.

Taking inspiration from this scene, as well as compatriots such as Motorpsycho, Norwegians Kanaan score their next kaleidoscopic new album, Earthbound, as well as a new single, pink riff, commissioning bassist Eskild Myrvoll to pick the best and weirdest psych rock bands that have lifted their prisms in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Eskild says, “Choosing just 10 bands for this feature film was a struggle, but I defined the term ‘psyche’ in the broadest sense of the word to be able to include some of the bands that inspired me the most and who have had the most success. influence on Kanaan in terms of musical audacity and pure sonic exploration. My interest in Japanese music started with my love for noise music many years ago, but across all genres, the Japanese music scene is a constant source of excitement and discovery for me. I dare say that this sort of thing has also been quite important to our band in recent years, both in our compositions and in the mindset with which we approached recording and improvisation, and certainly in the sound we had in mind when recording our new single. , pink riff.”

Stronger line break

1. Temple of Acidic Mothers

One of the definitive Japanese psychedelic rock bands of all time, who over the past 25 years and under the command of guitar wizard Kawabata Makoto have released a multitude of recordings under several different aliases and with a range almost endless number of collaborators, ranging from legendary Gong and Soft Machine founder Daevid Allen to cult Philadelphia psychedelic rockers Bardo Pond. For me, their extended song-based improvisations and heavy references to Western and Japanese rock culture were a portal to a whole new world of psychedelic music and new inspiration to perform and record psych rock. For Kanaan, they are a strong influence in how they’ve managed to cover so much musical ground while staying true to the nature of the AMT project, something we’ve always aspired to do – be stylistically diverse, but still maintain the Kanaan spirit.

2. Naked Rallies

Not a psychedelic band in the true sense of the word, more like “the craziest psychedelic noise rock band with doo-wop basslines you’ll ever hear”. For a band whose only material available is live bootlegs and whose frontman hasn’t been seen since the ’90s, they’ve gained an extremely solid international following, and rightfully so. Once I understood the beauty of the Rallizes and learned to appreciate the weight of their sonic lo-fi attack, I was destined to never return to the normal world again. For the ultimate sonic overload, listen Night of the Assassins well titled Heavier than a death in the family.

3. Flower Travel Strip

Julian Cope’s striking cover photo japrocksampler book (and their own All over debut album), where the band are seen riding naked on motorcycles along a Japanese highway caught the eye for me, and immediately got me interested in the band’s music, which did not disappoint. Heavy psychedelic rock, with a very strong English inspiration at the beginning (the aforementioned album contains covers of Black Sabbath and King Crimson), before they manage to appropriate the style in a much more adventurous and diversified mode. Satori album.

4. High waisted

Aptly named Psychedelic Speed ​​Freaks before they changed the band’s name to High Rise early on, their first name is probably the best description you can get of the music contained here. Crazy psychedelic garage rock, delivered with relentless energy and crushing volume, if their extremely lo-fi 80s recordings give the right impression of what it was like to be put on a show with this power trio. It’s one of the best musical discoveries I’ve made across the entire psychic spectrum and it fills me with joy every time Munehiro Narita launches into another creepy guitar solo. The energy of these recordings was definitely an inspiration for our track. pink riff, even if we aim a little more for a hi-fi sound for our recordings!

5. Kikagaku Moyo

A more recent addition to this list, but this band has probably turned more people to Japanese and East Asian music in the past five years than any other band here. A cohesive discography that tastefully mixes the influences of psych, jazz, krautrock and traditional Japanese music, and a great live band that also inspired us. Kikagaku Moyo also runs a label called Guruguru Brain, which offers quality psychedelics from a diverse roster of Asian bands. We were supposed to share a stage with them in Norway this summer, and it’s easily one of the shows that disappointed us the most to have been canceled during the entire pandemic.

6, Taj Mahal Travelers

In the truest sense of the word “psychedelic”, Taj Mahal Travelers might be the most psychedelic band on this list, because it really could be music to take you to another dimension. Improvised drone music that has ambient qualities, but the musicians also know how to pull the performance into a darker, more unsettling place. This loosely-knit group of musicians toured the world playing art galleries and doing outdoor shows in the early 70s, with some of the instruments including trumpet, double bass, synth and branches. of trees (!). Discovering that one of their most acclaimed live recordings was from a concert in Sweden also brought me a little closer to the Japanese psych scene.

7. Far Eastern Family Group

The Far East Family Band’s 1976 album is one of the most amazing discoveries I’ve made in Japanese music. Parallel world, produced by none other than krautrock godfather and synthesizer guru Klaus Schulze. Their early ’70s albums are also pretty good, but on this record they really turned their music into an immersive, trippy listening experience in the best possible way. Ambient sections, progressive breaks, haunting drum grooves – this band has it all! As I usually do the synthesizer overdubs on Kanaan albums, the calm and grace of the synth work on this disc (courtesy of Kitaro, who went on to have an international career in new age music) also been an influence to add that feel to certain parts. of our own studio work.

8. Ghost

Not to be confused with the image-conscious Swedish rockers of the same name, this Masaki Batoh-led psychedelic folk band have produced a number of quality releases since their self-titled debut in 1991. Ranging from acoustic jams to full-blown fuzz freak-outs and sometimes reminiscent of krautrock pioneers Amon Düül II, this band has something for anyone interested in the psyche. their song I stole from the self-titled album is quite simply one of the most beautiful songs I know – a sweet gem of a psychedelic folk tune, as good as I’ve ever heard anyone make it.

9. Fushitsusha

Hearing this band for the first time a few years ago was a revelation to me. The changing line-up is primarily noise rock legend Keiji Haino’s vehicle for creating raw, unbridled noise rock from the 80s to the present day. Improvised, devastating and somehow still rock’n’roll in the most extreme sense of the word. Kaiji Haino is definitely an inspiration in the way he has such a strongly defined musical character that shines through in every project he’s involved in.


Another band following the classic pipeline “Create a fake band for a photo op and become a hugely diverse band dipping into psych rock, tribal jams, vocals, and abstract sound painting.” Led by Yoshimi P-We, best known as the oldest drummer in Boredoms, a very exciting band that always seems to keep a close eye on new musical experiences.

Kanaan’s album Earthbound is out November 12 via Jansen Records. Pre-order it at Kanaan Group Camp Page. Pink Riff’s single is out.

Virginia F. Goins