Quality: 4 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 5 out of 5
This music is pretty far out there, and seems to me to be the Japanese equivalent of the most deranged kraut rock. Using a variety of acoustics and a barrage of electronic instruments, the Taj Mahal Travellers attempted to reach as far into the sonic frontier as they could on an album side. Live, I can easily imagine that they'd continue until they simply passed out.
I have a pretty high appreciation for this album, but as the "4" rating above suggests, something doesn't completely click for me here. When we consider music this ambient and/or avant garde, it's often hard to put a finger on it, but I think it has something to do with their use of jarring noises in the middle of otherwise relaxing passages. I'd prefer to float into the ether. Another very subjective criticism would be their occasional tendency to throw in everything including the kitchen sink. That said, the first track probably ranks as the most etherial one with panning. buzzing electronic noises on top of a sea of ringing bells, marimbas, and electronic tones. Eventually some spaced-out wordless vocals enter the mix too. The second tracks produces a wall of shimming, amorphous sound (complete with kotos deep in the mix) before thinning out into a 'monks of doom' sounding choral section. "III" plunges into really avant garde sounds ala Can's "Peking O," while the final track makes me think of a prototype, way more experimental version of something Kitaro would have done when he was making music that didn't suck.
There is a lot of avant garde variation at work on this album, and it definitely one of the more psychedelic bits of music to crop up from Japan. Use it as aural room decor and see if it fits or not. It costs about the same as room decor with the current Amazon price tag of $359 for the 2001 vinyl reissue.