Perhaps you recall our first encounter with the Geinoh Yamashirogumi collective: It was back in October of last year, when we discussed their near-perfect score for the animated 1988 film Akira. Their haunting blend of Japanese avant garde psychosis - featuring indigenous Balinese instruments like jegog and gamelan along with vocal ensemble and Roland synthesizers - provided a fitting backdrop for an equally haunting film. But what else has this mysterious group of reclusive musicians produced?
Gee, I'm glad you asked. Among a few other releases, Geinoh Yamashirogumi's greatest accomplishments came in the form of 1976's Osorezan/Dounokenbai and 1986's Ecophony Rinne. These two albums, released a decade apart, serve to shed some further light upon the Yamashirogumi legacy, and document their progression in the years leading up to Akira.
Originally released as Rinne Kohkyogaku (Reincarnated Orchestra) in 1986, Ecophony Rinne was re-released internationally in 1994 under its better-known title. Of all Yamashirogumi albums, Rinne is the one that most closely resembles Akira, awash with futuristic synth goodness and ethereal layered vocals. Highly recommended listening, and weird as shit.
Opening with an ear-piercing scream and devolving deeper and deeper into freaky communal-hippie chanting weirdness during the course of its 40 minutes, Osorezan/Donoukenbai presents a younger and more experimental Yamashirogumi collective. Osorezan can't decide if it's from 1969 or 2069, but I don't think it really matters. And by the time you get to the insane vocal percussion of Dounokenbai, neither will you.
OSOREZAN / DOUNOKENBAI (1976)
ECOPHONY RINNE (1986/1994)
Geinoh Yamashirogumi website (in Japanese) / Wiki