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7 Aug 2016

Food Brain “Social Gathering”1970, Japan Heavy Acid psych rock









Food Brain “Social Gathering”1970, Japan Heavy Acid psych rock 

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Foodbrain - this legendary band released only one album, ‘Social Gathering’ [Polydor, 1970], the cover of which stands out due to the large elephant approaching the viewer. It contains a great, diverse mix of stuff delivered with over-the-top gusto, from stabbing high speed hard acid rock, to rollicking progressive psych jamming with crazed piano, to loud distorted bass experiments, etc. etc. Guitarist Shinki Chen [ex-Golden Cups - see below, and Powerhouse (a covers band)] later went on to record a solo album and to form the group Speed, Glue & Shinki with Foodbrain bassist Masayoshi Kabe [a.k.a. M. Glue, also ex-Golden Cups]; keyboardist Hiro Yanagida [ex-Apryl Fool - see above] later went on to play with Love Live Life + One, Masahiko Sato & Sound Brakers and to a solo career [see below]; drummer Hiro Tsunoda [ex-Jacks - see below] went on to Strawberry Path, Flied Egg and Sadistic Mika Band [see below]. The album has been reissued on CD. Food Brain - Social Gathering CD. Official Japanese press reissue of 1970 complex hard progressive rock with Shinki Chen, Hiro Yanagida, so you can imagine how wild this is. On second thought, nobody can imagine how wild this is…

A bunch of organ soloing all over this instrumental album. Songs are all over the place in that wacky Japanese kind of way. Sometime some cool guitar soloing comes in to take the place of the organ. Song titles are cool. Liver Juice Vending Machine, The Hole In The Sausage, The Conflict Of The Hippo And The Pig…you know, things like that. Sounds like these guys got together to do some jamming. After listening to it once I for sure had to listen again to try to figure out what the hell is going on here. I don’t think there’s much to figure out though it’s just some jammin’. It’s alright. Mildly interesting for a few spins. A bunch of these guys went on to better projects. Oh yeah, there’s a jazzy song on here to with sax skronking and everything. The album is pretty much dominated by organ soloing. Farfisa organ if I’m not mistaken.

Amusing psych-prog, entirely instrumental and very inventive, with a virtuoso work for all instrumentalists but perhaps the predominant share of keyboards (often heavy prog classic Hammond sound, although in minute sketch One-Sided Love sounds even harpsichord). most interesting, of course, avant-prog 15-minute The Hole in a Sausage with seizures saxophone chic and lots of bass, but the rest of the stuff is very good. “ All participants of this project have not gone into oblivion, and successfully played in other bands and projects, as stated above in the review. It just needs to listen. We strongly recommend that all visitors to our community. This is the most progressive direction of Japanese rock, or rather, the beginning. It is the pillar of Japanese progressive rock. It is in this project gathered the individual, who asked the Japanese trend of progressive rock. ……

Sounding like what I’d expect to have been the result of American rock group The Doors going down a path leading to more jazz-oriented recordings (particularly of the open-ended free jazz variety produced in the mid ’60s by names like John Coltrane), Japan’s Food Brain may be one of the most super “supergroups” ever to have released an album – though the people involved would be unfamiliar to most anyone who hasn’t researched older Japanese rock. Guitarist Shinki Chen (known as the Hendrix of the Far East), bassist Masayoshi “Louis” Kabe, drummer Hiro Tsunada, and organist Hiro Yanagida had all made their names in psych-tinged rock bands of the late ’60s such as The Golden Cups and Apryl Fool. Shortly after Food Brain came and went, Kabe and Chen would be founding members of the (legendary?) short-lived trio Speed, Glue and Shinki before going their separate ways. The truly one-of-a-kind Food Brain release from 1970 entitled Social Gathering (apparently recorded in just two days during May of that year) combined these talented musicians and allowed them to really let loose on a disc that has to be considered one of the premier “jam band” records of its day, and perhaps ever.

A nine-track instrumental album opening with a lengthy and very trippy jam containing some of the most manic instrumental parts you’ll ever hear and continuing with truncated bits of blues rock, experimental noise bursts, and free-jazz explosions, Social Gathering (also known as Bansan, it’s original Japanese title) is one wild disc. It’s easy to pick up on the fact from listening to this album that Food Brain was made up of players who were scarily proficient at their instruments of choice and also quite familiar with the types of music that would have been coming out of the United States at the time. The end result of all this is a wonderfully demented psychedelic rock album that plays as if the whole of the American music scene of 1970 were tossed in a blender and pulverized into a viscous goop. Social Gathering seems to have a bit of everything: there are catchy song segments here and some heavy, bluesy freakouts, but then there’s also downright bizarre moments of near-silence and weirdo sound effects. I don’t know what exactly this band was on when writing the album (though Kabe earned the nickname “Glue” because he had a tendency to huff the stuff), but holy cow did they deliver something that could accurately be described as being “far out.”

The album begins with the nine-plus minute “That Will Do,” which initially sounds like something I’d expect from a group like Steppenwolf (in particular, the solo section of “Magic Carpet Ride”). After the raucous beginning with mangled, heavily distorted bass and guitar as well as honkytonk piano clanking in the mix, the track delivers a slow breakdown straight out of stoner metal (Sabbath!) before picking the pace right back up for one of the most jaw-dropping solo sections I’ve ever heard. Organist Yanagida throws down some ridiculous, throbbing organ that could only have been made in the ’70s, while bassist Kabe’s up-and-down, all-around playing almost defies belief. I have to wonder how many amphetamines he had ingested to be able to play with this level of out-of-control ferocity. Though the most well known of the players, I’d actually call Chen’s guitar solo somewhat unimpressive, especially when placed against Yanagida and Kabe’s work. Irregardless, “That Will Do” fairly accurately channels the feeling of having “tunnel vision” while under the influence – the track just surges forward in a completely unrestrained manner, yet it’s undeniably exhilarating. Certainly, the piece could be used as the very definition of an excessive psych jam from the time period.

Meanwhile, “Waltz for M.P.B.” sounds precisely like the solo section from The Doors’s “Light My Fire” interpreted with an emphasis on tweeting organ tones. Again, there’s plenty of heavy bass in this track, with Chen’s guitar being a lesser, accompanying ingredient. After an intro with clanging metallic elements, “Liver Juice Vending Machine” heads back into Steppenwolf territory with snarling guitars and cascading organ lines. Kabe’s bass is again featured in another massively honky solo that thunders from the speakers, with the song building to a discordant Jefferson Airplane-like interlude and a sudden, climactic collapse. “Clock” unleashes a seemingly endless hypnotic musical theme provided by the rhythm section over which Chen and Yanagida are given free reign to go nuts. Though not as instantly memorable as “That Will Do,” these various shorter tracks prove Food Brain could consistently deliver mind-melting instrumental jams until the cows come home. Though very much a product of the time and place it was made, this is just good stuff.

Throughout Social Gathering, there are a number of short, interlude-like tracks that feature unfamiliar sounds and generally create a weirdo mood for the more substantial tracks to play out under. These brief (under a minute) tracks go a long way in preparing a listener for the longest track on the album, the penultimate one entitled “The Hole in a Sausage.” This track is free jazz at its most minimalistic and experimental, with a bass clarinet squawking incessantly while the other players frequently vanish after brief interjections of sound (a short rendition of “Auld Lang Syne” for instance). There’s much more an emphasis on noise as opposed to melody and intricate composition during this track, with drummer Tsunada doing his best impression of frequent Coltrane drummer Rashied Ali throughout and particularly during an extended drum solo late in the track. As much as the earlier tracks could be definitively odd, it’s “The Hole in a Sausage” that may have the potential to kill this album for some listeners since it’s WAY out there and not extremely musical. For me though, this fifteen minutes of psychosis only adds to the wackiness of this already deranged album; as “sonic art” it’s certainly intriguing.

It’s actually surprising considering his reputation how little Shinki Chen’s guitar is featured on many of these tracks here. If I hadn’t done some research, I might have assumed that the more famous personnel featured on this record were the bass player and organist. It certainly is those players who the tracks seem to revolve around and get the most “feature time.” Chen, on the other hand, seems to have shown up to lend his name, collecting a fat paycheck while smoking lots of weed in the control room. This isn’t to say that Social Gathering is a bad album in any way, quite the contrary: this record is great in oh, so many ways. As much as I’d love to hear another batch of madness from the group of people that was Food Brain, it’s not at all surprising that this was a one-and-done music project. In the long run, the fact that this was a completely unique album has ensured the disc some notoriety, if only among fans of outrageous music projects of yesteryear or Japanese psych. Though clearly not to all tastes, this gets a high recommendation for me and four and a half stars…….

"Social Gathering by Food Brain is a 1970 one-off jam record by a Japanese psych/prog “supergroup” consisting of guitarist Shinki Chen (Speed, Glue & Shinki), bassist Luis Kabe (The Golden Cups), organist Hiro Yanagida (Apryl Fool), and drummer Hiro Tsunada (Strawberry Path)…” ……

Imagine a fast boogie base on which a keyboard instead of a blues riff puts spacey notes. Then a sudden slow-down, a brief symphonic interlude and psychedelia starts. “That Will Do” is started about only one minute ago and it’s clear that it’s an awesome track. The organ is acid and the rhythm is high. It’s psychedelic but not chaotic. There’s a lot of jazz behind here. A great performance of Hiro Yanagida (check his solo works, too). After 4 minutes of acid organ it comes an acid guitar then an acid bass. A great psychedelic track very clean and rock without experimentalisms. A jam session, mainly, until the initial boogie theme is back for the last two minute and closes the track.

After a short bass filler, “Naked Mountain” it comes “Waltz For M.P.B”. This song reminds strongly to the instrumental part of Doors’ Light My Fire.

“Liver Juice Vending Machine”….I can’t imagine a cup of liver juice…This is a psychedelic track initially in the mood of Syd Barrett. The initial noises, the bass riff are very floydian, but when the bass solo begins and the guitar solo follows the possible relation with Pink Floyd disappears. What follows is artsy and acid, then the initial riff returns and the song is closed by a noisy part.

“The Conflict of the Hippo A” is another 30 seconds filler.

Other good psychedelic rock with “Clock”. The bass notes, an organ base and the solos can start. It’s another jam session with a solo for each instrument. The drums don’t make a solo but the drumming is excellent throughout the whole album. Hiro Tsunoda doesn’t need to play a solo to show his skill.

45 seconds of harpsichord entitled “One-Sided Love” and the longest track arrives. “The Hole In A Sausage” has initially something of Gong, not only in the title. I think to Radio Gnome Invisible, but without vocals. Following the intro there’s a long free-jazz part of clarinet, contrabass and drums and after few minutes the organ adds some accents. Now it’s more Soft Machine than Gong. Very artsy and a bit experimental. However the jazz influence is clearly evident in all the tracks. The guitar adds a touch of psychedelia and the 11 notes of the “funeral march” played by the bass with chorus effect make it weird, too. The same just after with few notes from Auld Lang Syne, then it’s a bass solo followed by a noisy and likely improvised section. Drums alone for another solo. A short organ coda, less than one minute of guitar noise (it seems to be a guitar), and the disk is over.

It’s a very good album but it needed a few more to have the fourth star……

Line-up / Musicians

- Hiro Tsunoda / drums, percussion
- Hiro Yanagida / keyboard & organ
- Masayoshi Kabe / bass
- Shinki Che / guitars
- Michihiro Kimura / clarinet

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. That Will Do (9:12)
2. Naked Mountain (0:32)
3. Waltz For M.P.B. (3:45)
4. Live Juice Vending Machine (3:21)
5. The Conflict Of The Hippo And The Pig (0:31)
6. Clock (5:27)
7. One-Sided Love (0:48)
8. The Hole In A Sausage (15:03)
9. Dedicated To Bach (0:51)


johnkatsmc5, welcome music..