Say Psych: EP Review: Damo Suzuki & Minami Deutsch – Live At Roadburn Festival

At the 2018 edition of Roadburn Festival – a congregation of all things obscure, heavy and experimental in Tilburg, the Netherlands – two generations of Japanese Krautrock genius’ took to the stage for a live collaboration that was just as hypnotic as it was inevitable. Those artists were Tokyo’s Minami Deutsch and the legendary ex-Can lead Damo Suzuki. With Minami Deutsch’s heady motorik jams providing the backdrop on which Suzuki was left free to deliver his distinct improvised vocals, the result was something challenging, direct, raw and simply not of this world.

For those that weren’t lucky enough to attend, independent label Fuzz Club was able to get hold of the live recording straight from the mixing desk and have pressed the meeting-of-minds to vinyl. Repetition. Minimalism. Improvisation. Transcendence. That was the ideology of seminal krautrock pioneers Can, whose 1970-1973 work with Damo Suzuki at the helm unleashed something in music that’d change it forever. Some 45 years since Can’s final record with Suzuki, Future Days, their freewheeling spirit still lives on. Not least because ever since then, Suzuki has embarked on an endless tour where he’s travelled around the world taking to the stage backed by countless local bands – or ‘sound carriers’ as he refers to them.

One place where krautrock is embracing a true return to form is in Japan, where a new school of bands are reinvigorating ‘kosmische musik’ for these humdrum times. One of the bands leading the charge is Minami Deutsch, who take the driving, minimal beats and howling guitars of the krautrock greats and bring them crashing into the 21st Century. Formed back in 2014, the band have been picking up a formidable international reputation for their deeply-mesmerising and powerful live shows.

The EP is split into three tracks which is scheduled for release on 1 March. ‘Part I’ is the longest and most intense and wastes no time in asserting exactly what this is going to be about. It is a pacey track, complex from the off and only increases in this area. Half way through it slows to a crawl, where the intensity of the beginning of the track thins to reveal a metronomic guitar riff and characteristic motorik beat, with Suzuki doing his thing over the top. The track picks up once more after the interlude and remains so until the end. ‘Part II’ offers more incomprehensible vocals echoing over distorted and delayed atonal guitars and a strong beat. As the track develops, it acquires more melody whilst remaining true to its krautrock grounding. ‘Part III’ is a different entity which whilst building on its predecessor, takes it to new heights with delicate intricacies accompanying rolling riffs. In the breaks in Suzuki’s improvisation, Minami Deutsch assert their presence and really show what all the fuss is about.

Damo Suzuki is a legend of krautrock, easily recognisable in both stature and voice. Minami Deutsch are carving a path as modern krautrock pioneers and are up there amongst the masters of the modern version. This meeting of giants must have been a magical experience live and has been brought to life on record so it can be enjoyed for years to come.


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