Screw the proposed biopics for Fred Astaire and Brian Epstein. Do you know who needs a movie made about their lives? Les Rallizes Dénudés.
Despite the French-sounding name, the band are actually one of the most transgressive Japanese rock bands to ever have existed. Imagine if The Velvet Underground had direct ties and involvement with the Weather Underground, never released a proper studio album, had John Cale hijack a plane, and collapsed as Lou Reed completely disappeared from public life. That’s the only appropriate parallel to what Les Rallizes Dénudés are.
Part of the fascination around the band is that, despite being pioneers in the psychedelic and noise rock genres during their heyday in the late ’60s, they never officially released any of their music. Such was their dedication to avant-garde anti-commercial and anti-capitalist art that the only way to hear what the band actually sounded like was to find bootlegs. Most of these were of dubious quality, but the group always had a cult fascination within certain corners of music fandom.
That all changes today, as the band have sanctioned their first-ever official digital release: ‘White Awakening’, a live track from the band’s early ’70s incarnation. The song is the first preview of what will be the group’s first official full-length release, OZ Days Live: ’72-’73 Kichijoji – 50th Anniversary Collection.
‘White Awakening’ is a relatively tame example of the band’s lighter, folk-inspired sound. It makes a great introduction to the band’s work: easy to listen to, catchy, but definitely strange and slightly off-kilter. From here, be ready to dive into the world of drones and ear-shattering feedback if you dare.
It apparently took the death of frontman Takashi Mizutani in 2019 to start the process of getting the band’s material officially sanctioned and released. Remember: these guys are (or were) hardcore communists, so for-profit albums were out of the question for decades. But now it’s about preserving history, and Les Rallizes Dénudés are one of history’s most fascinating musical projects. Now, the world as a whole will have greater access to the band’s music and can fall down the rabbit hole themselves.
Check out the audio for ‘White Awakening’ down below.