July 15, 1972 (Mustard Coloured Vinyl)
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For over half a century, Takehisa Kosugi was of the most unique and enduring figures in the Japanese underground. As an art student in Tokyo in the early 1960s, he joined the Fluxus-styled performance unit Hi Re Centre and then founded the improvisational ensemble Group Ongaku, but his most legendary project was The Taj Mahal Travellers – a multicellular organism that included Kosugi, Ryo Koike, Yukio Tsuchiya, Seiji Nagai, Michihiro Kimura, Tokio Hasegawa and sound engineer Kinji Hayashi. With a penchant for long psychedelic jams (some lasting 12 hours or more) The Taj-Mahal Travelers lived up to their name. Touring in a Volkswagen van across Europe and Asia in the early '70s, they eventually reached the actual Taj Mahal in India. Upon their return to Japan, they held a concert to raise more touring funds and released their very first recordings. Their debut album, July 15, 1972, would extend the band's matter-of-fact titling: all the tracks were named precisely for the times they began and ended. With a grab bag of instrumentation (electric violin, double bass, santoor, vibraphone, harmonica, radio oscillators, sheet iron, etc.), The Taj Mahal Travellers weave together mesmerizing waves of sonic texture. Featuring longtone concepts that Kosugi discovered while working with sound generators in New York in the mid-'60s, July 15, 1972 remains just as much a collective tone poem as psych workout. These leader-less sounds coalesce into a unified whole that feels both subconscious and sublime, as if the waveforms bypass the listener's ears and land directly inside one's synapses.