This Connecticut based outfit came together in 1971, after ending their time as the backing band for both Buddy Miles and Arthur Lee. White Chocolate soon dominated the east coast circuit and soon came to the attention of RCA Records, who promptly signed the band and issued their self-titled debut in 1973. Though the album contains some enterprising material, poor promotion resulted in stiffed album sales which eventually killed the band’s contract with RCA and ultimately the band itself. The prinicipals of the band quickly regrouped in 1975 under the newly dubbed Dirty Angels and eventually went on to issue two cult classic before imploding at the close of the decade. Members later went on to acts like Joe Perry Project, Farrenheit and Slo Leak.
“White Chocolate” is an excellent example of genre splicing, as the band brings equal amounts of soul, funk, blues and hard rock to the table throughout. Sounding like an anglophile Mother’s Finest at times, the band tear confidently through ten songs with absolute ease. This balance of breeziness and brashness makes for a very distinct sounding record that defies strict categorization. In between all of this genre hopping, one can also hear latin flourishes as well as dashes of west coast country rock. Though all of this hodgepodging typically makes for an uneven listening experience, White Chocolate do a superb job in maintaining continuity throughout. This excellent album came and went with little fanfare and has been languishing in the RCA vaults ever since. This outstanding vinyl transfer should be all you need to appreciate the talents of this fine Connecticut trio. Dig in! ……… Sole album from former Buddy Miles,Arthur Lee album that morphed into "The Dirty Angels". The Hendrixy track "Midnight Flight" is a reworking of the song "Busted Feet" (different lyrics) that Charlie Karp recorded earlier with Arthur Lee on Lee's solo album "Vindicator". ............... This album was recorded at RCA studios, NYC; the same studio where the song-'The Jean Genie' (David Bowie, 'Aladdin Sane') was recorded. The 'roadie' for this band (his name was Joey) would go on to work for Bowie (among others). Speaking of David Bowie: "Mr. Rice's Secret" (2000), starring David Bowie. The opening line (the voice of David Bowie): "I've got a present for you." In this movie, David Bowie plays a wandering spirit who comes back from the dead. The next-to-opening scene is his funeral. Joey died about 8 or 9 years ago, and I, the guitarist and the drummer on this album attended his 'wake'. So did one of the backup singers from David Bowie's "Let's Dance" album, who told me (among others) that David Bowie once gave Joey a Christmas present at the end of one of the tours on which they worked together. The guitarist on this album also once spent an evening with David Bowie at the end of his recording an album, entitled-'Black Tie, White Noise.' Mick Ronson was dying of liver cancer at the time. My favorite track from this is the final one: "I'm Alive." Amen...........by...Doubting Thomas....... Charlie Karp (guitars and lead vocals) David Hull (bass and vocals) Jimmy Maher (drums and vocals) Additionnal musicians: André ewis (keyboards) Maxayn Lewis( background vocals) Gene Hull (saxophone) Jerry Mirliani (trumpet) Candido (conga)
Flower Travellin’ Band’s 1971 masterpiece, Satori, reflects a transitional, yet momentous, period in the history of rock music. The psychedelic movement of the previous decade was slowly dwindling in popularity, yet its influence still held a degree of relevancy that managed to inspire the modern music scene. The fuzztoned guitar sound and bombastic drum rhythms that were initially envisaged by groups like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Cream, and Blue Cheer, were now being viewed as fundamental elements that gave root to the heavier styles of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. At the same time though, as proto-metal and hard rock were establishing their dominance in the mainstream, bands like King Crimson and Yes were developing a whole new elaborate brand of rock. The distorted heaviness was indeed a present aspect in their music, but these bands often looked to the abstract nature of psychedelia for inspiration. The adoption of elongated song structures and fantastical atmospheres became even more evident in the rock scene of the time, and actually lent considerable leverage to the rise of progressive rock.
The unique sound of Satori vividly captures the eclecticism of the ‘70s rock scene, and all of the different philosophies that were steadily evolving into fully recognized genres. Flower Travellin’ Band have taken all of the various trends that were prospering at the time, and unionized them into a collective mélange of power and atmosphere. Here we’ll find traces of early heavy metal and progressive rock, as well as nostalgic spectacles of florid psychedelia. Since the release of 1970’s Kirikyogen (a collaborative effort with Kuni Kawachi), Flower Travellin’ Band have also been cultivating a heavily dissonant guitar style that emphasized on a low-tuned sound and slower tempos, thus giving their music a more menacing characteristic. Much like Black Sabbath’s Master Of Reality, Jacula’s In Cauda Semper Stat Venenum, and the heavy, prog-influenced sound of Lucifer’s Friend have been credited with developing the idiosyncrasies of doom metal, Kirikyogen also played a significant part in its creation. In fact, Satori is yet another endeavor in honing the formidable and ominous sound that would become the essence of doom metal. Indeed, Satori is a proto-doom, yet highly versatile, epic divided into five movements, each one more mystical than the last. This album is like a window into a warped and capricious state of mind, as the music flows along under its own agenda, while altering in both mood and style whenever it deems appropriate.
The first movement, “Satori, Pt. I”, opens the album with an unforgettable overture. As Joe Yamanaka screams into the microphone to signify the start of the album, the music steadily intensifies behind him so as to build up the suspense. And as we’re drawn to the edge of our seat, completely succumbed with anticipation, Flower Travellin’ Band commence their monolithic onslaught with proto-metallic riffage. This particular movement emphasizes more on loud volume and low-tuned guitar work above clever artistry. A majority of the piece is centered around a memorable riff and high-tone wail, which follows a melodic arrangement that is suspiciously similar to two of Slayer’s forthcoming hits, “Raining Blood” and “South Of Heaven”. In the second and fifth movements of Satori, we find Flower Travellin’ Band deviating their focus from heavy metal, and embellishing the atmosphere with a touch of mysticism. This is where the psychedelic and progressive rock influences are at their most conspicuous. There’s a stronger emphasis on long instrumental passages and spacey melodies here, which allows Flower Travellin’ Band to drift into profound, meditative ambiences. This section is very reminiscent to the acid-induced jams in Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” and The Doors’ “When The Music’s Over”, as it is completely reliant on radiating a similar, hypnotic environment. It’s actually quite astonishing how Flower Travellin’ Band is able to formulate mellow, psychedelic jams that incite the an equally magnetizing awe that their heavier style emanates. It’s a kind of versatility that many bands aspired to harness at the time, but very few managed to pull off with a similar degree of expertise.
The third and fourth movements regress back to a heavier demeanor, which borrows influence from blues rock and heavy metal. The third movement signifies a return to the doom-tinged sound of the first movement, only this time, with a relaxed tempo that continues to be influenced by the psychedelic vibes of “Satori, Pt. II”. Nevertheless, the obsessively dark aura that consumes this piece, as well as the dynamic prowess that takes over in the midsection, manages to give it a consciously metallic feel. The fourth movement, on the other hand, pursues a bluesy rock sound. This was a rather popular trend at the time, as various rock bands were still showing a sincere interest in the 'blues explosion’ of the mid '60s. Joe Yamanaka even has the audacity to bring out a harmonica to compliment Hideki Ishima’s riffs and solo work, thus formulating “Satori, Pt. IV” into a 'Zeppelin-like’ groove.
I’m personally enthralled by the sound of Satori. The mind-bending jams, the hypnotically vibrant riffs, Satori just showcases a virtually unparalleled mastery of every genre it embraces. As previously mentioned, this album is like a musical collage of strangely mixed elements from proto-metal, progressive rock, and psychedelia, which mirrors the evolution that rock music was undergoing in the early '70s. Listening to this album is like experiencing an LSD-trip gone awry, with the listener trapped in a labyrinthine funhouse that appears more enigmatic over time. Though this hallucinatory theme is only for the sake atmosphere, as Satori has much more to offer than to be 'mood music’ for stoners. This album, with its dynamic shifts in mood and eclectic range of styles, takes rock and psychedelic concepts to their absolute limits. Flower Travellin’ Band illustrate such a sophisticated, yet primally forceful sound that had it been given more attention in the western hemisphere, it could have had the potential to cast a thick shadow over every other release of its time…… by Hernan M. Campbell……….
An excellent album that’s often considered a classic of the early 1970s independent psychedelic / hard rock scene in Japan, “Satori” still stands up well 40 years after it was first released. To judge from its sleeve art of Indian gods, a Buddha silhouette and various cut-outs of famous Western art icons, you’d think this album should offer a very dippy trance-like listening experience. Especially as it’s called “Satori” (a Zen Buddhist expression referring to spiritual enlightenment of a very deep and profound kind). Instead the recording has a strong, hard-edged and powerful style for its period. Perhaps the band members imbibed some of that heady flower power hippy consciousness-raising soma stuff and love was all they needed in those days but the music on offer hear shows their ears and hearts were deep down in Black Sabbath territory (with some Deep Purple touches): in most songs the riffs and melodies have a sinister doomy feel, the singing is often a high-pitched wailing and the mood can occasionally be dark and foreboding.
All five tracks here represent five movements of the one work “Satori” and all are very distinctive and could qualify as self-contained songs in their own right. They feature long passages of rhythmic repetition that in themselves can have a mesmeric effect on listeners. They’re all top-notch pieces and so it becomes a matter of personal preference as to which tracks are the highlights of the album. I personally go for “Satori Part 3” which is the most malevolent and doomy track in its near-trilling melodic motif and slow pace. It has a long middle section dominated by lead guitar and a creepy background wobble guitar feedback drone which jet off into the skies and flies far into the blue yonder before finally being pulled back to earth so that the song can conclude and the rest of the work can move on. There’s also a brief passage where the rhythm collapses and the musicians engage in some tentative improvisational exploration with flotsam guitar fragments and some stuttery percussion.
“Satori Part 4” is still a riff-based track but presents a more friendly and eccentric side of the band. The guys still sound quite Sabbathy but now the hippy influence is beckoning here. Somehow I think of Damo Suzuki from the German band Can who were contemporaries of the Sabs but the vocalist here actually isn’t anything like Suzuki. In some of the music there’s a Led Zeppelin feel especially where harmonica and lead guitar traipse along together over a stuttery Zeppelinesque rhythm section. The track can be very indulgent in parts but somehow it all seems fun and never overdone, and the guys must have been enjoying themselves immensely. “Satori Part 5” features a dark and ominous mood in its suspenseful bass riff loops, the lead guitar tones, the discreet keyboard effects and the howling vocal.
Surprisingly given that there’s a great deal of instrumental music boasting a lot of runaway lead guitar improvisation within the confines of conventional song-based structures - and remember this album came out in a period in which technical virtuosity was regarded as the highest achievement in rock and early heavy metal - the album is not big on technique at all. The musicians are nevertheless proficient at what they each do and present a tight unit. Possibly one minor thing the guys overlooked is their sound: there are sections in tracks 3 where the guitar could have been just a little fuzzy to get a raw edge. Slight echo effects could have been introduced here and there for an even more sinister feel. But all this would have been icing on an already high-quality cake.
“Satori” was one of three studio albums Flower Travellin’ Band recorded during its duration. Of the other two, the debut album is noteworthy for consisting of covers of other people’s songs and for its startling photo of the band members travelling starkers on motorbikes down a highway.
Parts of this review are derived from a review written for The Sound Projector (Issue 14, 2005 - 2006), the rest has been completely revised and rewritten……..
The heaviest Psych record from the 60’s/70’s i’ve ever heard. If Sabbath’s debut is considered metal even with its heavy blues influence, I don’t see how this isn’t considered metal too. …..by…. lovesthemetals ……..
This was Japan’s premier hard rock group. They recorded several albums during the late 60’s and early 70’s though Satori and Made In Japan are their very best works. Satori is one of hard rock’s great lost records that finds common ground with Monster Movie era Can, the Stooges’ Funhouse, MC5’s High Time, Blue Cheer’s Insideoutside and Guru Guru’s self-titled 1973 lp. It’s an album that weds bludgeoning guitar riffs with philosophies from the Eastern world. Some have even gone as far to say that had Buddha formed a hard rock group, it would most likely resemble the music played by the Flower Travellin’ Band.
Funny notes aside, the band also has one foot firmly planted into the space rock era, meaning Satori will also appeal to listeners smitten by the sounds of Ash Ra Temple, Popol Vuh, Faust, Amon Duul and Embryo. Joe Yamanaka, the lead vocalist comes across as an underground Robert Plant, and by the time Satori Part 2 kicks in, your head will be blown off clean. This track has some of the deadliest eastern guitar riffs known to man and it’s held down by a heavy blues back beat. Yamanaka shouts, “There is no up or down” throughout this beautiful display of chaos. It’s really that good, and unlike anything I have heard before or since. Map begins softly but kicks in with some intense guitar playing and the kind of youthful vigor that’s only associated with teenagers.
Satori is the kind of record that unites punks, prog enthusiasts, metalheads and psych/garage fans. Its guitar playing is laced with eastern drones and Yamanaka’s strangulated vocals transcend the era, making Satori truly original and essential for any serious rock fan…..Rising Storm…review…..
Satori is an album I heard a lot about, and its cultural and musical significance is obvious. I first picked this one up a few years ago, but at the time, found myself scratching my head as to what made it so great. The music was very unusual– raw and unpolished; not the type of Space-Rock I was used to hearing out of the UK around the same time. However, after owning it for a little while now, I finally see the appeal. This is very strong, heavy and forward-thinking music. Even if it doesn’t sound like it at first, you must remind yourself that this album came out in an era that had yet to really hear a lot of the stuff done on this album. Sure, there already were plenty of psychedelic Rock works out by 1971, thanks in no small part to acts such as The Beatles, Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues and Frank Zappa, among others. However, the rough, hard-edged atmosphere heard on this record was something that in my opinion wouldn’t become the norm for another couple of decades. In that sense, Satori is very ahead of its time, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it served as an inspiration for many heavy/psychedelic rock acts that came after it.
Flower Travellin’ Band take many influences on themselves, here, such as Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin, but there is still plenty of originality and 'music of the future’ type moments on the record that it makes it very much worthwhile, in my view. It may take some time to get into the swing of things, especially if you’re not expecting it, but it’s worth it once you allow yourself to appreciate this work on its own merits. It just happens to be really damn good, as well. It’s very dark and full of doom, so I don’t recommend listening to it when having a bad day, but the darkness is merely a result of the heavy psych-rock the band emits throughout. The cover art is beautiful, but don’t let that fool you; the music held within is, more often than not, rather dreary.
The piece is comprised of five parts, all bearing the name of the album itself. Each movement is a little different, and makes for some good variety. Some tracks are better than others, but no track is completely weak or lacking. There is plenty of substance, here.
“Part I” Starts off with a brief sound of dead airwaves beeping, then some light cymbal crashing from Wada. Then, silence. Suddenly, one of the most unsettling musical moments of my life breaks in: “Gaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!” “Du na da na, du na da na, du na da na, du na da na!” go the guitars, and then Yamanaka begins to sing proper, but not before throwing in some more wailing for good measure. His Japanese accent is obvious when singing the English lyrics, but it never gets all that bothersome, and at least you can understand him, unlike the earlier Eloy works. This song simply goes through the same motions a couple of more times before suddenly ending. It’s an okay track, but not as good as what will follow.
“Part II” is already off at a better start, with a very catchy drum beat and some heavy rocking rhythm guitar accompanying it every now and then. The lead guitar parts during this first part are pretty interesting as well, but it isn’t until around a minute forty that they really shine. Some really awesome fade-in-fade-out volume swell effects are performed while holding a solid, crunching guitar chord. It very much gives the song’s atmosphere a sense of psychedelic dread, which I’m sure is what these guys were going for. For a little while, the drums are allowed to break free, playing that contagious beat on their own, unaccompanied, until around 4:02, when the volume swell guitar effects come in again, this time even more melodic and effective. I swear, my mind jumps to more modern trippy rock bands like Tool when I hear these moments; and this was back in 1971! truly music that was ahead of it’s time. Anyway, the lead guitar parts continue in the left channel, while the psychedelic guitar effects continue in the right, now encased in a good dose of reverb, adding that trippy effect even more. This goes on for awhile very successfully until 6:48, when everything seamlessly and effortlessly snaps back into the main riff. That’s when the song ends. It’s a brilliant piece of psychedelic rock music.
“Part III” has a much more subtle beginning than any of the previous tracks, with distant sounds of what sound like either thunder cracks or explosions. Either way, this is soon followed by a dread-laden bass line that carries the listener into the darkness. 1:25 sees the first full-fledged guitar riffing of the track, and it’s the most Sabbath-esque tune heard yet on Satori. This continues on for much too long without really changing, and it’s probably one of the least-pleasant moments on the record for me. Finally, after what feels like an eternity, a little over five minutes into the song, things finally switch up, and it gets interesting. For the next twenty or so seconds, an amazing musical breakdown makes way for the excellent guitar solo soon to follow. Once it hits, there is no stopping it. It’s not super fast or technical, yet it always makes me groove whenever I hear it. Here, Hideki Ishima really shows what he is capable of conveying through his instrument; intense, heavy psych-rock. Around seven minutes and eighteen seconds in, things come to a crashing halt, and the dark, spacey soundscapes begin. This band does an awful lot with so little, as most of these trippy musical moments are handled simply through the unusual way they choose to play their instruments; as mentioned before, this album is a very bare-bones type of recording, Not much post-production seems to be at work here, and anything you hear that sounds particularly unusual was most likely produced live in the studio (except for the moments in which Ishima had to double track over himself, due to the lack of a second guitarist, of course). Recapitulating my least-favorite guitar riff (but not for too long), the band then goes into one final, frantic blast, before ending the song on avery strong note.
“Part IV” has the best opening off all these tracks, and start out very clean and bluesy before switching into the distorted, raw riffing that they do so well. This time, it’s all very well-contained and doesn’t go on for too long. About a minute and a half in, Yamanaka starts spiting out the lyrics in an almost spoken word style that reminds me a lot of Jimi Hendrix’s vocal style. Wether or not this was intentional or not, I don’t know, but it works. One of the groovier, more enjoyable parts of the album for me. Again, musically, these guys sound ahead of their time. Every once and awhile, between the vocalized verses, the guitar comes in with a very heavy vibe that I swear to god puts me in kind of the thrashier Metallica days. Again, not in terms of speed or technicality, but in terms of attitude and approach. This band sounded like bands that didn’t even exist yet at the time, and to me that is worth noting, because it’s more than a little impressive. A very Prog-Metal type of odd rhythms come in, then suddenly everything becomes incredibly smooth and groovy. This is my favorite musical moment on Satori, and it hits around 3:57 of this track. Harmonica, aye? Absolutely, and it works incredibly well here, up against the stomping, chugging rhythms produced by the bass, drums and electric guitar. it’s absolutely brilliant. Hey, guess what? We’re only halfway finished with this song!
5:41 marks another fantastic guitar solo from Ishima, and he’s completely on top of his game, here. Wada is no slouch, either; his tight, rhythmic backbeat helps keep all of this intense rocking in check, and while not overly frilly, the man’s drumming ability certainly can’t be ignored. This section of the song goes on for quite a long time, but never gets boring, unlike previous overly- long moment on the record, and then everything else breaks away except for drums and harmonica. Soon, the other instruments begin to re-introduce themselves one by one, this time accompanying the main riff that the harmonica is providing. Finally, around 8:46, things come back around to that initial riff, and Yamanaka does his thing once again. These guys are great at bringing their musical journeys back around to where they began, thus giving each song on Satori a very symmetrical feel. It means that the album never wanders too far away from itself, and all the music enclosed stays concise. One final blast of energy bring this rocking track to a resounding close. The drumroll at the end is especially tasty.
“Part V” is the last song, and starts off more intense and complex than any of the others that came before it. Sudden start-stops, and a VERY Ozzy-like vocal howl comes very shortly into the game, and the clean guitar arpeggio picking heard off in the distance backing this up is enough to send shivers down your spine. This is probably the darkest song, and you can definitely hear the Black Sabbath influence here quite a bit. But it doesn’t mean this song is completely unoriginal; it just means it may sound more familiar to you than the other tracks. The long-held breaths from Yamanaka are clearly meant to simulate fear, pain, dread, etc. It works, but it may not me as pleasing to your ears as other, more musical moments on the record. Jun Kosugi’s bass is the most notable here, and it backs up Ishima as he plays quite possibly his most emotional guitar solo. Overall a very good track, full or darkness and while the Sabbath similarites will be obvious to you, think of a more modern act that has managed to pull this type of dark, beautiful stuff off quite well. Opeth is what comes to me. Fair comparison? Well, perhaps you will feel differently about it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this album didn’t influence Mikael Akerfeldt at one point or another. After all, it’s highly regarded among many doom-rock followers, and I’m sure the man heard it sometime in his life. This track (and album) finally ends on a very spine-chilling note, with a final soft chord being played, followed by the distant crash of a gong. That ends the magnificent journey that is Flower Travellin’ Band’s Satori.
Now the question is, should you buy it for yourself? I think so. I think, even if it doesn’t become a favorite of yours, you’ll be glad that you own it if not for the simple fact that it holds so much relevance and importance among many serious music fans. It’s still a fairly underground work, as well, which gives it a certain stigma, and I think all of those factors (including the music itself, of course) combine to make a very good case for owning this one. Expect the unexpected, and cherish the darkest moments, and you’ll love Satori. What you mustn’t do, however, is hold the album to some insanely high expectation. It’s old, rough around the edges, yet at the same time, very much worth listening to.
Happy listening……. by JLocke……
One of those cult classic albums from a relatively obscure band that you’re probably thinking about hearing just to see if it lives up to its cult status. For the most part, SATORI does live up to expectations; it’s a solid heavy psych album but not quite up to excellent. It is worth sneaking a quick listen, especially fans of Black Sabbath or Cream.
Not far into the first part of SATORI, one will hear the battle-cry-esque holler of one Joe Yamanaka, a man whose singing voice reminds me of Steve Perry (I kid you not, that’s what I hear), Rob Halford and Ozzy Osbourne. His voice can best be described as acquired; I find it mostly non-obtrusive, but I’m sure there are plenty out there who might describe the vocals as “disgusting” or “deplorable”. It’s not the case on the whole album; Joe’s high-pitched moments can get irksome, but the fifth part of the album is where Joe reaches his full potential as his vocals (no words) are very hypnotic and beautiful.
The music of the album is largely based around the riff. SATORI dates to 1971, giving enough time for bands like Sabbath, Zeppelin, Purple, etc. to have an impact on up-and-coming hard rockers of that time. Parts I, II and V show the bands’ proto-metal influences with enough psychedelia to make them sound “different”. Part V in particular is the krux of the album with the hypnotic main grove and the proto-prog-metal technical dazzling opening/closing riff. I mentioned that Cream fans might enjoy this, and the Cream sound is there in Part IV’s first big riff, but not enough to be a ripoff. My one tick is that Parts III and IV are a smidge too long (not to mention Part III’s main line sounds like a lesser “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida”, the only real knock-off I can detect).
I feel that SATORI earns its cult classic status, largely due to the riffing, Part V, the psychedelic feel and the drumming (particularly the thumping of Part II). Those that don’t like their music raw or psychedelic might want to refrain from this, but everyone else might want to feed their curiosity (however minute it may be) and give SATORI a try. It’s good, raw, and fun…… by Sinusoid…..
A legendary Japanese outfit with a penchant for Black Sabbath, King Crimson and Jimi Hendrix, the Flower Travellin’ Band were standard-bearers for the exciting rock scene that emerged out of Japan during the early-seventies and one of the ultimate cult groups. They issued just four albums during their rather brief musical career, all between 1970 and 1973, though much of their reputation stems from 1971’s bruisingly doomy 'Satori’, an album seen by many as the high watermark of Japan’s psychedelic rock scene. Made up of five interlocking parts, 'Satori’ charts a raw and powerful course through the group’s grazing mixture of chundering proto-metal guitars, warbling vocal assaults and ethnic percussion licks, an almost apocalyptic sense of foreboding drenching every single chord. At it’s best, it’s a truy mesmerising experience, the group darting between heavy and light sonic shades with an almost punk sense of reckless abandon, though occasional repetitive longeurs - some of the overlong guitar solo’s for example - do slightly diminish the overall effect. That said, its rare to find an album that mixes power and beauty with such wild-eyed gusto, matching the likes of The Stooges, Hendrix and Sabbath for pure, single-minded bluster. Essentially one long piece of music, 'Satori’ may well appeal to those with a fondness for the heavier things in life, but conversely, may also put off fans of more melodic forms of rock. However, if it’s a blazing, blues-tinged trip to the outer reaches of wigged-out psychedelia you’re after then look no further than 'Satori’. Jagged and metallic, at times utterly engrossing, and about as subtle as a crazed psychopathic bull having a massive epileptic fit in an over-crowded fine china shop, this is music of astonishing power and aggression. You have been warned….. by stefro ….
You may very well not have heard of this band let alone seen or heard their 1971 album Satori. I feel obliged to put that situation to right because hand on heart this is one of those stellar overlooked gems that ought to be in every rock music collection. The band formed in Japan in 1968 and are part of the Proto Metal genre that included Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Cream etc. These bands used a combination of blues-rock with psychedelic rock which would later evolve into heavy metal. Whilst the names of bands like Cream, Deep Purple, Black Sabbath and Steppenwolf are mostly well known to us there are other lesser known and overlooked groups that demand an appraisal. Without a doubt the Flower Travellin’ Band and especially their first original album Satori demand attention. Recorded over one day and mixed in another this album is now being re discovered and regarded as an influential album by those fortunate enough to have heard it. The album consists of 5 tracks all called Satori and numbered parts 1-5. The album cover, with its meditative Buddah like figure and cartoon characters, gives some clue to the sonic adventure that the listener is about to embark upon. The five sections evolve and change and create an alternative and mind expanding universe of sound. If this sounds pompous and grandiose it is simply because that is what it is. Metal guitar chords, Eastern rhythms, African strings, tom toms and earth rattling bass combine in a memerising melange of musical madness. This Japanese band have taken a myriad of influences and combined them into an LSD tinged world that seems familiar and foreign all at the same time. Listening on headphones one is made to reappraise ones understanding of early rock music. This truly does stand out as a truly great rock album and stands shoulder to shoulder with all the classic albums of the late 60s and early 70s. This comes highly recommended. Islwyn Paul Mainwaring…………
It’s 1971. The hippie era was coming to an end. Psychedelic rock was declining. Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin were the heaviest thing out there. Metal was in its infancy. In the midst of all this, a Japanese band unleashed one of the heaviest and tripiest albums of the era. Japan’s Flower Travellin’ Band released their magnum opus, Satori.
The group started in the late 60s after Japanese singer and producer Yuya Uchida met with John Lennon. They started off covering songs from popular western bands such as Cream and Jimi Hendrix, and even did a Black Sabbath cover in 1970! The group featured half Japanese, half Caribbean singer Joe Yamanaka, who had an interesting falsetto voice. Their guitarist Hideki Ishima was and still is a powerhouse of a musician. He created his own instrument, combining the standard guitar with the Indian sitar, dubbed the sitarla.
Their first album of original material of their own was Satori. The sound is a mixture of blues rock, heavy metal, and psychedelic rock in particular. The record even has some doom metal in it. The Sabbath influence is clear, yet the songwriting feels very Japanese. The album has five songs on it, all called Satori. They are each one part of the whole. The title means awakening, understanding, or comprehension in Japanese, linked to Buddhism. The cover features the Buddha with the geography of Japan within it. Since there are only five songs, this will be a track-by-track review.
Part one begins with a single note from a woodwind, some chimes, then an intense scream from Joe Yamanaka followed by the chaotic, apocalyptic main riff. That’s how you begin an album. The riff one-ups Black Sabbath in doominess, and is very hypnotizing. Yamanaka’s howls populate the chorus, which is more relaxed than the main riff, yet still ominous. The layered guitar tracks give the song an intricate sound, and hooks me in for more listening.The second part is the most popular song on the record. It became a live staple of the band, and even as recent as 2008, Yamanaka could still hit those high notes [http://youtu.be/hymnHEedx8c?t=58s]. This track exchanges doom for the psychedelic. The song features mid-tempo trippy riffs, with equally trippy lyrics: “There is no up or down. Your truth is the only master, Death is made by the living. Pain is only intense to you. The sun shines every day. Freedom Freedom.” Hideki Isima’s soloing shines here, and he shows off his skill as a shredder. There are some guitar drones that help with atmosphere. The song starts the motif of a simple, calming guitar strum, played during the intense soloing. It sounds like lounge music, giving an interesting contrast. Part three starts with near silence, as bassist Jun Kozuki begins with a calming bass line that plays until shortly after the one-minute mark. This is one of my only gripes with the album. I like this bit, I just wish it was louder. I have to turn it up pretty high to hear it well, but once the main section comes in, the volume is way too high. That is a minor issue however, as this is my favorite track. This is the most drugged-out song, and it is completely instrumental. It features an acid-soaked main riff, and a very rhythmic, relaxing solo, which is one of my favorite solos ever. It later goes into a jamy section that almost sounds like free jazz. The track ends with a frantic galloping solo that is an odd sort of proto-speed metal. This track was reworked with lyrics on their following album Made in Japan, retitled “Hiroshima,” about the atomic bombing during WWII. The fourth section is where they get really bluesy. They tone down the intensity and it is a nice breather. Yamanaka plays the harmonica during a particularly easy-going part, mirroring Ozzy on “The Wizard.” The combination of the drums, bass, sitarla, and harmonica gives this section a very layered, percussive sound. This is my least favorite song on the LP, but it is still enjoyable The last part bookends the album with doom. Part five’s insanely choppy intro sounds like the band is preparing for battle. The majority of the track has the suspense of impending doom. There are no lyrics, just droning, wailing and ominous vocal melodies from Yamanaka, sounding very tribal-like. The motif of the simple guitar strum from part two comes back, played under dark instrumentation and melancholy solo. This album is simply amazing. It combines intricate eastern songwriting with heavy and druggy influences of western rock bands. The doomy atmosphere on parts one and five could have been influenced by the horrors of WWII, but that’s just a hunch. I was hooked from the very beginning of the record. It has been gaining some notoriety recently for its innovativeness and excellent quality. It deserves more attention. If you like psychedelic rock, traditional metal, doom metal, or just want to hear something different, I urge you to give this a spin. You won’t regret it…..review…by Spencer …..
A while back we listed this, just 'cause we happened to order a few in and some of the staff here who were previously unexposed to the wonders of the Flower Travellin Band, notably Byram, became obsessed with it (and them). It was a Japan-only import and we felt that while many might already know this album backwards and forwards, it had most certainly slipped through the cracks for too many others out there. So we listed it and got an overwhelming response. Now it’s a constant seller here at AQ. And still to this day, almost any time you come into the store, you might well hear the Flower Travellin’ Band blaring. Now we’re listing it again, on account of how it’s just been reissued *again* at a much lower import price, this time by the British label Radioactive. They’ve included some art from the original LP that didn’t appear on the previous Japanese cd edition, but there’s no bonus tracks or anything else additional. If you don’t already have it, here’s our old review of it, so read on, and you might discover a new favorite: This is an album (and a band) that are not celebrated nearly enough – possibly out of misguided notions of their being another bad psych knock-off among the many crowding the record racks in the early seventies. But Japan’s Flower Travellin’ Band were no mere cheesy imitators of occidental rock 'n roll, they were in actual fact a full-fledged, pioneering tour de force of psychedelic progressive hard rock, equalling the krautrock heavies of the era. FTB can be compared favorably to Amon Duul’s better efforts with their experimental meandering (think Yeti), and the best trancey spaceouts from Can. Yet there’s never a sense that FTB lose track of their compositions no matter how far out they take a track. Perhaps because even more than these experimental Krautrockers, FTB’s heavy (fucking ominously heavy) sound points to a major Sabbath, Purple, and Crimson influence. Released in 1971, Satori is the band’s second and arguably best album. From the first screech/howl at the beginning of track one – “Satori Part I” (the tracks on the album are all “Satori”, parts I-V) – from vocalist Joe, who inhabits a zone somewhere between Can’s Damo Suzuki and Deep Purple’s Ian Gillan, the album gets straight down to business. Joe’s scream is followed by a foreboding bass, guitar and drum dirge that’s straight up collision between Cream and Black Sabbath in which no one survives. It’s got so much more teeth than either, it’s not even funny, predating punk by a good many years. “Satori Part II” however is quintessential FTB Over a pounding tribal drumbeat, alternating between a buzzing sitar-esque guitar drone and a melody line that curls ripples and lilts like a plume of burning incense smoke, guitarist Hideki Ishima lays out one of the creepiest, coolest guitar leads ever. If that ain’t enough, vocalist Joe’s singing is like that of Axl Rose being channelled by the Sun City Girls! Even if the rest of the album were total shit – which it ain’t – the cost of this cd would still be well worth it for this song alone! “Part III” – an instrumental – picks up where II leaves off but slows the tempo down to a deathly pace, which makes it even heavier. This is the Sabbath influence on FTB writ large. Replete with an improv freakout before returning to the original riff and building into a frenzied crescendo. Needless to say, if you weren’t bobbing your head at the beginning of the song, you will be by its end. “Part IV” could be considered FTB’s “blues” number, with Joe picking up the harmonica instead of singing. But instead of churning out the expected twelve bar formula, FTB truncate the form and construct a minimalist jam around a short riff instead. “Part V” shows yet another facet of FTB’s seemingly infinite potential with Hideki (?) playing some kick ass, spooky koto-like guitar overdubbed on top of some heavy psych. Damn! They could have done ten fucking albums around this schtick alone and probably never lost our interest… sigh… Absolutely, fucking recommended!!!! …..by Aquarius Records:………
Formed in 1970 from the remnants of the cover band Yuya Uchida and the Flowers, Flower Travellin’ Band lasted only three years and released as many albums. The second, Satori, is a bona-fide classic, one of Japan’s great ‘70s rock albums whose blend of psychedelic atmosphere and prog-rock power remains astoundingly compelling.
Following Satori, then, was going to be a difficult act. Made in Japan — ironically named since it was recorded in Canada and sung in English — turned out to be a mighty strong contender even if it doesn’t quite reach the same peak. Thanks to Phoenix Records, it’s now possible to find the album in stores instead of on obscure mp3 blogs.
While certainly possessed of a psychedelic flavor, Flower Travellin’ Band was above all a rock band, with definite prog-rock tendencies that thankfully add to the proceedings without detracting from the riffs. Don’t be fooled by the opening “Unaware,” which is a slow, deep bluesy piece; from there the band turns up the fuzz and gets heavier. The center trio — "Kamikaze,” "Hiroshima” and "Spasms” — are where it’s at.
Hideki Ishima’s sharp guitar work and Joe Yamanaka’s soaring vocals form the backbone of these songs. For some, Yamanaka’s falsetto might be a bit too much, but it’s part and parcel of the band’s emotional punch. On the album’s centerpiece, “Hiroshima,” his voice bears a strong Ozzy flavor that fits perfectly with Ishima’s fuzzed-out guitar. The latter floats in the back during the verses, but eventually takes off for a marvelous middle eastern-tinged solo. The band’s ability to float one moment and stab the next is one of the tricks that made Flower Travellin’ Band special, and it’s where the group’s prog-rock attitude benefits them most. When everyone turns as a unit and suddenly hits on all cylinders, it’s exhilarating. Sadly, Yamanaka passed away in August due to cancer.
Phoenix Records is, by all accounts, a bootleg label, meaning that they likely reissued this album without the permission of the band and without any plans to pay royalties. Given that the CD packaging sports illegibly small cover art and contains no additional liner notes, you needn’t feel bad about downloading it from your preferred file-sharing service. We can only hope some legit label will eventually reissue the complete Flower Travellin’ Band discography in the future.
By Mason Jones………
Psychedelic bands in Europe and North America often incorporated aspects of Middle-Eastern or Indian music into their own styles. So what happens when a band from Japan does the same thing? On the one hand, just from listening, you probably wouldn’t guess the band was Japanese. After all, Eastern-inflected heavy guitar riffs are hardly unusual, and they’re not singing in Japanese. If you think of early Black Sabbath (while there was still a bit of psychedelic in their sound) going off on a long Moroccan tangent, you’ll be in the right place. There’s also a bit of American blues to their style, with the appearance of harmonica. The guitar is almost always doubled up in octaves for the riffs, for a great combination of heavy and bright. In typical Japanese fashion, vocals are given short shrift, more an expression of apparent drug-induced enthusiasm than technical prowess, sometimes little more than demented wailing. But Satori is not about singing, it’s about riffs, and there are some killers here. Hawkwind comes to mind as a comparison, the way they take a mid-tempo motif and carry on at length. Come to think of it, Hawkwind was never really about singing either. I think the lyrics are in English, though they are basically unintelligible. The guitars and vocals are backed by bass and drums, and there actually are arrangements, not just endless repetition, with some nicely contrasting sections. Fans of the German post-psychedelic bands (Ashra, Missus Beastly, etc.)……by Jon Davis,………
Imagine if Black Sabbath was more psychedelic, flat-out weird, and Japanese, and maybe you’ll get an idea what Flower Travellin’ Band sounds like, but probably not, because they were truly one of a kind. I mean, the majority of these five long songs (titled "Satori, Pt. 1,” “Satori, Pt. 2,” and so on) are instrumental, and even when the shrill high-pitched vocals (which won’t appeal to everybody) come in they may be comprised of simple “whoa” or “oh” chants (those looking for deep lyrics should look elsewhere). No matter, this was pretty heavy (and heady) stuff for 1971, and it holds up extremely well today, as the band’s hypnotic Eastern-flavored strangeness actually works in their favor provided that you appreciate “far out” music that kicks plenty of ass. The band was comprised of Joe Yamanaka (vocals, harmonica), Hideki Ishima (guitar), Jun Kozuki (bass guitar, guitar), and Joji “George” Wada (drums), and Satori was the best of the band’s albums. It’s hard to really describe the band’s music; I mean, Ishima’s guitar often doesn’t even sound like one, more like a sitar with its snake charmer ambiance (particularly on “Pt.2” and “Pt. 3”), but it all works (for me it does, anyway), though I’ll admit that I’m not always in the mood for it (did I mention that this album was REALLY STRANGE?). “Satori, Pt. 1” is the album’s most straightforwardly hard-hitting song and is probably my favorite for that reason, as some of the longer songs (“Pt. 3” and “Pt. 4” are both around 11 minutes long) have some sections that probably could be tightened up a bit. Then again, even the more meandering sections have tons of trippy atmosphere, and most of these songs build to exciting climaxes at one point or another (such as the frenetic finish to “Pt. 3” or when the harmonica solo is followed by the guitar solo on “Pt. 4”). The musicianship is never less than first-rate (Ishima’s guitar solo exhibits a surprising soulfulness on “Pt. 5”), and I’d like to thank the Rate Your Music community reviewing website for turning me on to this relentlessly interesting “proto-metal” masterpiece. …….
Originally released on Atlantic Records back in 1971, and now re-mastered and re-released in strictly ltd numbers by Phoenix Records on both vinyl and CD, ‘Satori’ is the legendary LP that launched a thousand stoner-doom projects, and cemented the name Flower Travellin’ Band into the annals of psychedelic history. It’s also joint number one in Julian Cope’s Japrock Top 50, alongside ‘Eve’ by Speed, Glue and Shinki, so all you argumentative motherfuckers out there best believe: this is righteous shit!
Fans of obscure Japanese cinema may also recognise ‘Satori’ as the soundtrack to Takashi Miike’s film ‘Deadly Outlaw: Rekka’, in which Flower Travellin’ Band members Akira “Joe” Yamanaka and Yuya Uchida play minor roles. Whatever path leads you to this long-playing wonder of the Eastern World, once you’ve arrived, you won’t be wanting to leave!
A suite of 5-original compositions entitled ‘Satori 1-5’ (a nod to J.D. Blackfoot’s ‘The Ultimate Prophecy’), the LP takes the guitar sounds of Toni Iommi and Jimmy Page, and expands them along with the consciousness of the listener over 42-minutes and 14-seconds to create the kind of Yardbirds informed mystique both the aforementioned would doubtless give their Aleister Crowley memorabilia collections to have personally achieved!
Recorded with the budgetary might of Atlantic’s Ikuzo Orita’s (a kind of Japanese Jac Holzman) firmly behind it, ‘Satori’ sweeps and soars as it rises and falls. Hideki Ishima’s furious guitars squall like incendiary sitars (bordering on bagpipes during ‘Satori 3’ - settle down at the back, Adamson!). Jun Kobayashi’s bass surges beneath the six-string waves with awesome low-register power (considering ‘Satori’ was recorded centuries before our post-modern obsession with ‘bottom end’, sub-bass ‘brown noise’). Joji “George” Wada’s toms thump and pump as his cymbals crash and ride … and above it all Akira “Joe” Yamanaka’s spectral vocal presence completes the unholy din! ……
“Satori” is the second album, after they had changed their name. It contains five long songs, titled “Satori Part I-V”. The whole album had a very special atmosphere.It’s not easy to describe, maybe mystical, dark and melancholic are some words I like to drop. In some songs, as in “Satori Part I”, they play some kind of a proto epic Doom, brutal heavy riffs with nice tempo-changes. The clear and high voice of singer Joe completes this great song. But it’s different to BLACK SABBATH.
I think,you can hear, that FLOWER TRAVELLIN’ BAND are strongly influenced through ancient Japanese/Eastern music. Like the second song “Satori II” ,an instrumental, which starts with a hypnotic psychedelic guitarsound and then turns into a instrumental part with Eastern percussion. But the song doesn’t “freak-out” into a endless jam. The band played still very compact. “Satori III” is a very doomy instrumental. The song is like a crossover between Doom / Heavyrock and this typical ancient touch. It changes into a heavy groovy part which goes into something experimental and then back to the opening theme with an oriental-like ending. Really fantastic!
“Satori IV"starts more progressive to change then into a groovy Blues part with a harmonica. Joe had a very unique vocal-style on "Satori Part V”,maybe not everybodys flavour. The album closes with this song,that goes more in it the Heavy-Prog direction. At least, the production sounds very clear and powerful. Finally, I will give you the advice to discover the world of FLOWER TRAVELLIN’ BAND, if you’re into early 70’s Heavyrock. The original is not easy to find, but there is a CD re-release on WEA, only released in Japan. Good luck!…by (KK)…..
Line-up / Musicians
- Hideki Ishima /guitar - Jun Kosugi / bass - George Wada /drums - Joe Yamanaka / vocals
Songs / Tracks Listing
1. Satori, Part 1 (5:22) 2. Satori, Part 2 (6:56) 3. Satori, Part 3 (9:40) 4. Satori, Part 4 (10:53) 5. Satori, Part 5 (6:56)
“FLOWERS” released in 1969 (Synton Rec.) “ANYWHERE” released in 1970 (Atlantic Rec.) “SATORI” released in 1971 (Atlantic Rec.) “MADE IN JAPAN” released in 1972 (Atlantic Rec.) “MAKE UP” 2LP released in 1973 (Atlantic Rec.)