…and sometimes it just turns out that the newest members of the freak music family are a bunch of long-haired Japanese twenty-somethings playing Zappa-loving Canterbury-inspired blissed-out spiritual jazz rippers. If you had that on your predictions list, right on, you’ll be extra amped. But either way, meet De Lorians, Tokyo’s newest fire music exports, by way of their self-titled debut.
Grown from the always-heady Tokyo music scene and led by Takefumi Ishida, playing sax and synth, all five De Lorians contribute material to what they call pataphysical music. The seven tracks here burst with overstuffed Weasels Ripped My Flesh-style action: bonkers horn arrangements, savage guitar solos, constant movement, through-composed sections, improv, surreality, and the occasional peaceful woodwind-dabbled valley. No singing, no poodle play, just constant surprises, rich vibes, and heavy fun.
With the whole album packed into 32 zig-zagging minutes, it’s a compact and powerful first statement for a young band exploding with ideas, and with a lot more under the hood. At De Lorians’ monthly gigs, there are plenty of more surprises, too. There’s ample improvisation, of course, but some nights they disassemble the sections of their songs, piecing them into new suites that might run longer than the length of their studio debut. Think of this album, perhaps as their (temporarily) definitive ur-suite, a prog-fusion dream of inside-out rhythms and catchy af melodies.
Ranging in age from 22 to 27, the five De Lorians tap into a library of ideas from their precursors, less in retro-loving emulation than for alchemical strategy. With the idea of assembling a Canterbury-style jazz-rock collective, Ishida gathered the band in 2016 from like-minded musicians, including Soya Nogami (guitar), Hyozo Shiratori (keyboards), and Genki Goto (bass). Drafting drummer SyZeuhl from a musicians’ classifieds site, the quintet was soon off to the races, and beyond the track. “Zappa is God among us,” Ishida says. But besides that, the influences veer wildly, the compositions bending under the influence of each musician. Shiratori plays singing saw and theremin sometimes. Nogami is a Khöömii vocalist, a form of overtone-rich Tuvan throat singing. Lately, Ishida has been on a ‘50s easy listening bender.
In a country where piracy and streaming have never overtaken the brick-and-mortar music industry, the members of De Lorians constitute a kind of fundamental music exchange unit that’s largely been disappeared elsewhere in the world. Ishida came across a mention of Pharaoh Sanders’s Karma LP while browsing in a bookstore, soon picked up a copy, and was transformed as a musician. But he also discovered that his local CD rental shop had a well-curated spiritual jazz section, and was soon exploring the music of Alice Coltrane, Doug Carn, and others. But there’s also psychedelic rock, cyberpunk, anime, memes, Pokemon, and whatever else has been discovered since this bio was written.
But making music nearly full time, right now, De Lorians’ biggest influence at the moment is probably each other. Recorded at the Tsubame Studio in Tokyo in September 2018, De Lorians is 32 minutes of timeless high-energy unity and barely controlled propulsion, exploding soon from a portal near you.