NOW is the third album by Kawaguchi Masami’s New Rock Syndicate, after Cat Vs. Frog (Palindrome, 2007) and The Psychedelic Sounds Of New Rock Syndicate (8mm, 2011). Expanding on the terrain covered on both those earlier albums, and a string of self-released and limited-edition CD-Rs, it’s a glorious set of psychedelic garage rock, with lacunae for acid-spiked instrumentals (“Intermission”, written by drummer Yamamoto Koichiro), languid blues interludes (“Blues In Haze”) and narcotic melancholy a la third-album Velvet Underground (the gorgeous “The Sound Of The Bell”).
It’s also Kawaguchi’s first major release since his solo album for Anthony Guerra’s Black Petal imprint, The Mad Guitar Sings. Much like that record, NOW has Kawaguchi playing loose and wild with rock and the blues (but not ‘blues-rock’), only this time, his blazing guitar is roaring over the fluid, deeply connected rhythm machine of Yamamoto and bass player Kikuchi Akira. Recorded in 2016, to mark the tenth anniversary of the New Rock Syndicate, it’s the consummate example of Kawaguchi’s vision of what rock music could – and should – do.
Kawaguchi already has a storied history, a player deep in the folds of the Japanese underground, having already lead Broomdusters and Miminokoto, while also contributing to LSD March, Los Doroncos, and Plugged Ear (with Fukuoka Rinji of Overhang Party). For some, he’s perhaps best known for his bass playing in Haino Keiji’s covers group, Aihiyo, as well as cutting some taut shapes on guitar in Haino’s recent blues gang, Hardy Soul. NOW is further steeped in Japanese underground music history, with a guest appearance on two songs by Maki Miura of Shizuka and Fushitsusha.
Wild and free, NOW is played for joy and kicks, led by an absolutely fierce guitarist, at the peak of his craft, letting his mad guitar sing – and sting.
One of the best bands of the last decade. No question. Their discography is fantastic. This album and their Stone Garden EP are some of the best psychedelic projects to be released in the last 5 years. Absolutely top people too. So nice. Met them in Indianapolis in February 2019. Go is a sweetheart. Guruguru Brain is swell label too. maxdenari