In some ways, collaboration between artists exposes what each player is bringing to the table, and the actual compatibility of their musical visions. Perhaps founded in that sense where jazz players try out all the duos, trios and quartet combinations to continually test, challenge and freshen up their abilities as shapeshifting musical beings. There is no leader, no follower, just an agreement somehow reached where all the colours, voices and sounds exist in untamed but completely democratic creative spaces.
Macula Kuru rises out of the bubbling fudge that happens when these rules are applied to a meeting when Junzo Suzuki was touring Europe in March 2020 and found some time with Belgians, Bart De Paepe and Jan D’Hooghe. Later, tapes were then passed to Tabata Mitsuru (the other half of Suzuki’s project 20 Guilders) to add bass to give the music some extra ballast within the kosmic storm that unfolds.
Of course, this album appearing now would normally feel like another superbly heady addition to the inexhaustible stream of releases but this one has an emotional back story. Between recording and it’s actual release, dear friend of OBLADADA – Junzo Suzuki suffered a serious accident in Tokyo this February. Initially the outlook looked perilous, but thankfully, he has made significant progress back to health.
So, whilst this album has some background context, the headline remaining is the music itself. It is easy to see Macula Kuru like a continuation of Suzuki and De Paepe’s other mind-blowing project Fuji that somehow folds space right back to the messiest most fucked kraut rock imaginable – a writhing mutating lysergic mess.
Clearly with recordings like this, the idea is to explore the textures and zones that open out from a very loose rock band set up. Endless rhythm and grooves, contracting and expanded like a telescope focussing on junk floating in space.
Side A opens up where everything is already buckled and warped is a field of effects and distortion. Eventually, drumming fades like mechanised aliens appearing over the horizon before disappearing into fizzing industrial mist. Underneath mounds of rubble, a groove embalmed in electronics eventually looms…
It’s no real surprise that Side B crawls out of a very similar swamp, everything remains in chaotic flux. In fact music this potent feels like an endless bubbling levitation, transitioning between 3 or 4 points at every moment.
But the final 5 minutes somehow deliver a payoff that feels all the more effective, given the 35 minutes of bizarreness to get there. This final section is pure garage rock, grooving like Les Rallizes Denudes on absolute fire. It’s the soundtrack from a hippy surf film scored by Syd’s Floyd.
Played loud as you dare and late at night – it’s become an absolute favourite. The lasting feeling as Macula Kuru finally trails into amp buzz and silence is that it’s an album that feels like something you may well have dreamt…
There are many albums that sit in this messy zone of psychedelic space rock that end up losing themselves but despite almost nothing here being anything other than bedlam, every sound is really carefully placed. The individuals are all drawing an incredible clear-headed adventure, using the most mangled means.
Macula Kuru is perfectly poised between total shambles and soaring space rock.