11 July 2011

Kimio Mizutani - 1970 - A Path Through Haze

Quality: 4.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 4.25 out of 5

I'm a little hesitant when I come across the term 'prog rock.' When musicians can work it towards a spacey groove rather than multi-suite wankery, though, that form of music does get my attention. With that in mind, we'll peg this one as a 'prog rock' classic. Kimio Mizutani was a psych rockin' session guitarist who created this album for his solo debut. He's got pretty awesome chops, and collaborated with some classical chamber groups on this album. Typically, the classical prog turns me away as well, but the band is smart enough to respond to the more orchestrated moments with a jazz vibe. Even Frank Zappa, who often recorded this way as well, tended to miss the point when he'd have his guitarists play rapid-fire walls of intricate guitar when a melodic solo would have done nicely. Mizutani doesn't make this mistake.

This set starts with several awesome tunes. The opening title track does indeed provide some nice jazzy haze, cut straight through with a monster riff from Mizutani's guitar supported by some groovy, Ginger Baker-like drums and streams of strange electronic noise. Once "Sail in the Sky" gets going, we're treated to a fusion vibe which features a very complementary woodwind arrangement. "Turning Point" sounds surprisingly like the post-rock band Tortoise, who wouldn't start recording until about 25 years after this album was released. "One for Janis" might not be the best tune for Janis, but it does give us another riff monster which is pretty fun. On the lesser side "Tell Me What You Saw" veers into hamfisted atonality which actually sounds pretty much the same as Phish jamming (although I'm sure that's a positive point for some of you), and "Way Out" doesn't tend to fit in very well as the only track with vocals. It comes out sounding like early-Return to Forever's vocalist stumbling into a funeral as the music is rather dirge-like.

Yeah, so this is prog-rock that I can be down with. The jazz vibe seems beamed in from the Canterbury scene, while the construction recalls Zappa, although without the 'too many notes' problem. Also, Mizutani is more than sharp enough to have a few of his own tricks up his sleeve and his guitar playing is psychedelically impeccable.


Anonymous said...


Lee Eddy said...

Sounds great, thanks!

allan said...

do you have anything about petticoat & vine? thanks

psychedelic_head said...

Cool! Thank you very much!

the saucer people said...

Huge thanks for sharing this..armed with Julian Cope's Japrocksampler I fear a new obsession brewing!

Here is Julian Cope's short review:

Although essentially a session guitarist, Jun ‘Kimio’ Mizutani is best known for his contributions to such classic early ‘70s albums as LOVE WILL MAKE A BETTER YOU by Love Live Life +1, the self-titled Uganda LP and People’s BUDDHA MEETS ROCK. Along the way, the ex-Out Cast member also released one star-studded LP of his own in A PATH THROUGH HAZE. Taking his lead from Masahiko Satoh’s LP of the same name, Mizutani delivered a record of Zappa-styled instrumentals, accompanioed by Satoh himself and Foodbrain’s Hiro Yanagida. The LP was all recorded in a single monster session, in the huge Nippon Gramophon No. 1 Studio, on June 7th 1971, and featured the Toyama String Quartet and Etoh Wood Quartet to further explore the Zappa-meets-jazz consciousness that was so prevalent at the time. Indeed, the record comes across like an album by Glenn Phillips or even something akin to John McLaughlin’s DEVOTION, though without the supreme euphoria achieved on the latter. Besides Mizutani’s rendition of Satoh’s epic title track, the other pieces were ‘Sail In The Sky’, ‘Turning Point’, ‘Tell Me What You Saw’, ‘One For Janis’, ‘Sabbath Day's Sable’, ‘A Bottle Of Codeine’ and ‘Way Out’.


ps> you ever come across the Japanese cast of Hair album from 1971? according to Julian Cope, this was one of the central events out of which the Japanese psychedelic underground was born...a radio blog did post it but sadly the link is dead!

Anonymous said...

Thanx a lot!

GreenFen said...

Hello any chance of a reup?