Essential New Music: Various Artists “Tokyo Flashback P.S.F.: Psychedelic Speed Freaks”

Sometimes culture comes from the top down; when the Beatles, Steven Spielberg or Beyoncé have had something to say, people listened, whether or not they wanted to. But sometimes it comes up from the underground, often propelled by determined, ornery people who are sure that they know better. Hideo Ikeezumi was one such figure.

Ikeezumi—the Tokyo-based proprietor of a store (Modern Music), a magazine (G-Modern) and a label (P.S.F.)—had an unerring instinct for finding music that was rare, visionary and true. He also had the recklessness to stake everything on transmitting his selections to the world. Among those who got his nod were Keiji Haino, High Rise, Ghost and Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Pariaso U.F.O., all of whom are represented on this gorgeously packaged four-LP compilation. 

Ikeezumi died in 2017, and that same year Ghost’s Masaki Batoh compiled Tokyo Flashback P.S.F.: Psychedelic Speed Freaks, which was originally released in Japan on CD. Paying homage to the compilations that P.S.F. used to release, Batoh looked simultaneously back and right around him. The music encompasses acid folk, free improvisation and prismatic selection of rock music, from high-octane rave-ups to transcendental downer meltdowns. The early material includes psychedelic uplifts by Acid Mothers Temple and Ghost that show just how right Ikeezumi could be, and two Haino performances recorded 20 years apart testify to his enduring otherness.

But some of the best moments on this collection come from names that only an already-established scholar of the deep Japanese underground would recognize. It’s just as rewarding to get lost for the first time in Reizen’s crumbling guitar sonorities or A Qui Avec Gabriel’s lilting accordion melodies as it is to be reminded of the powers of musicians you already know. And that’s what P.S.F. was about from the start, right? 

—Bill Meyer