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Geinoh Yamashirogumi Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai album cover
3.42 | 16 ratings | 5 reviews | 12% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 1976

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. 恐山 (Osorezan) [Mountain of Fear] (19:55)
2. 銅之剣舞 (Doh no Kembai) [Copper Sword Dance] (18:47)

Total Time: 38:42

Line-up / Musicians

- Takanori Sasaki/ bass
- Jiro Suzuki / drums
- Seiji Hayamizu / guitar
- Takayuki Inoue / guitar
- Katsuo Ohno / keyboards

vocals (to be completed)

Additional Personnel:

- Ohashi Tsutomu / conductor
- Hiroyuki Iwata / director
- Toyo Nakamura / producer

Releases information

3 issues:

- 恐山/銅之剣舞 [Osorezan / Doh No Kembai] (LP) Invitation VIH-6010 Japan 1976

- 恐山/銅之剣舞 (CD, Album, RE) Invitation VDR-1230 Japan 1986

- Osorezan / Dou No Kenbai (CD, Album, RE) Invitation VICL-23084 Japan 1994

"Osorezan" was recorded at Victor No. 1 Studio on January 20th, 1976.
"Doh No Kembai" (or "Dou no Kenbai") was recorded on December 2, 1975.

The 1986 CD release includes a 28-page booklet with notes in Japanese.

The 1994 CD edition has a slightly extended version of the first piece compared to the original LP and first CD editions. It comes with an OBI strip and a 28-page booklet featuring liner notes in Japanese and one article in English. 20-bit K2 mastering.

Thanks to Logan for the addition
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GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai ratings distribution

(16 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(31%)
Good, but non-essential (56%)
Collectors/fans only (0%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

GEINOH YAMASHIROGUMI Osorezan / Dou no Kenbai reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SaltyJon
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've received many recommendations from many forum regulars, many of which I've liked quite a lot. One poster in particular, though, a certain Logan, has let me know about many many obscure gems which I otherwise very probably wouldn't have ever heard of. This album is one of those gems. The collective really got started off with a bang here, creating a truly bizarre, truly wonderful, avant-garde psychedelic masterpiece.

Side one starts things off with a spine-tingling scream, which in itself may be enough to send some listeners packing. It really fits the song's title though, which translates to Mountain of Fear. The track has its more lush moments, with fuller instrumentation and busier sounds in general, then it's got its quieter, more eerie moments. They blend together pretty seamlessly, though, and this track is quite a gem if you're willing to give it a listen.

Side two is the track Copper Sword Dance. Again, we start off with a scream, but not quite as blood-curdling as the first side's. The track continues on with a bit of some religious sounding chanting vocals, though more in the eerie manner than the cheerful manner of some religions. It continues on in a call-and-response manner for a good while, nearly five minutes in fact, before the style changes up and we're presented with some female vocals and the male vocalists in the background providing a rhythmic backdrop. I haven't mentioned yet, this second song has barely any instrumentation that I can notice - just vocals and some sparse percussion late in the song. After a while, the male vocalists take over again. The textures created by the various combinations of vocalists are really great in this song. The all-vocal thing here would be explored more (in a very different variety of styles, I might add) on the group's album Chi no Hibiki Higashi Yuroppu wo Utau from the same year, though on that album the mood is very much less avant-garde/psychedelic (rock in general is completely gone from it, in fact). Back to this one, though - this track could be either more or less difficult for some listeners, as it's no less avant than the first and it lacks instruments (well, about 14.5 minutes in we get some sparse percussion which I mentioned earlier). Still a very worthwhile listen, though.

For anyone who wants a unique, challenging album, I definitely recommend checking this out. It may be uneasy listening for some, but it's worth the effort of getting to know it. 4.5 stars for this one!

Review by octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR RIO/Avant/Zeuhl,Neo & Post/Math Teams
3 stars This is a very little thing, but reviewing the debut of this Japanese (almost traditional) band wants to be a tribute to that land.

"Osorezan (Mountain of Fear)" is not an easy song. It opens with a scream like Eugene was really hitting Waters with an axe, then after a drums interlude we find a long chord full of harmonics, then bass and voices like in Vangelis' Heaven and Hell introduce a Jap folk vocalist. Without all the background noises it would have been evocative. Then stop. Then noises sustained by an open chord. It's like a fusion of psychedelia and krautrock with something that doesn't have equivalents in the western music. Chaotic and unstructured, it seems to represent spirits and elementals. The alternance of chaos and silence tells a story. Distorted vocals and screams while the chaos incerases, it's not totally scaring. The concept behind spirits and elementals in Japan is not the same as in the west.

Around minute 9 we have the first touch of what we are used to call music, with a choir singing over a base of bass and drums, quite jazzy, then a very good guitar solo. From here it proceeds in an easier way.

I have read that this is about a volcano on the island of Honshu on which some priestesses are a contact point between our world and the realm of deads, a sort of Japanese version of the Delphi oracles. This explains the first part of the track, when the priestesses get into a trance status and at the end of the jazzy section when the chaos is in crescendo and is closed by another female scream.

Finally it seems that we have reached the contact. In the last minutes the music is calm and low-volume with soft vocals and bells. This part reminds me to the Tibetan Suite of Lucia Hwong (who I have suggested for inclusion on PA....). At the end the voice of the priestess, I imagine, resurrects us like she's bringing us out from the realm of death to the top of the mountain.

The B side is "Dou No Kembai" (Copper Sword Dance). It starts as the male counterpoint to the first female song. A male ritual choir which alternates to a soloist occupy the first minutes. Not particularily appealing for western tastes, specially if one, like me, doesn't understand the Japanese. This track is based on rhythm produced by choirs instead of percussions. It is more challenging than the previous. It's tribal. I don't know if a copper sword dance really exists, but this B side can probably have a sense for Japaneses only. I can listen to it as I do to some unstructured Krautrock, with the difference that this is structured instead, but on a basis that's too far from what I'm used to.

At this point, rating this album is very difficult for me. Side A may easily have 4 stars, but the B-side is too much for me. I'm sure that it's because I'm not used to this kind of music, so it's my fault, but at the end my current rating is 3 stars. I can rethink of it when (if I'll ever be) more mature for this kind of music.

A thought to our Japanese friends.

Review by Guldbamsen
4 stars Japanese spirit warriors

If you want an album that takes you far beyond the edge of conformity - one that pushes you over the edge - one that tells tales of the deepest darkest pit found in the human psyche, then this Japanese outing just might be the thing for you.

Just by reading the somewhat daunting intro you could be led into thinking that this one perhaps is too far out and weird for your tastes, and though you might be right and probably are, I do feel this album is in the right. It doesn't act out and imitate strangeness and sonic bewilderment like a lot of others do, when they try to pull this kind of music off, - it is never a caricature - no this one feels like it's got a story to tell with these wild musical narratives. Like an old man on ecstasy mumbling away in his shredded pyjamas - trying to express the feeling of riding with the Samurai, fishing for killer whales with the emperor and eating lotus blossoms at the top of mount Fuji.

The first track is by far my favourite out of the two (yep it's one of those 2 sided epic albums). Incorporating a terrifying form of intrinsic musical rage and fear into the very soul of the piece - we start off with a scream. The track jolts and trembles under its own weight - oozing all kinds of differentiating moods and tempers varying between tribal chantings and soulfully played chiming sections that mellow things out - to woeful sonic depictions of every Japanese sorrow filled event coming from the ghastly vocals that shudder like a wet cat coming in from the rains. I hear emanations from great big samurai battles, the atomic bomb and nuclear waste transforming into black rain - all of these fears and frights shine through with radiant warmth in this remarkable track.

After a series of horrifyingly sung bonfire vocals, this caterpillar unanticipatedly transforms into a basking series of high powered pseudo disco butterflies - changing the feel of the track completely. It grows huge in scope, it gets psychedelic and we get a warm deep perspiring bass line leading this monster into new territories. Jagged gelatinous psych guitar raps its way into things - riding on the backbone of some foggy synth percolations that soak everything around them in this spacey expression. Oh yes we are indeed a very long way from were we started out. The music is now funky, strange, soothing - and almost symphonic in nature when finally a giant childrens choir starts singing. Welcome to goosebumps city.

Finishing this album off - the band flies around the world and attempts something that Jackie Chan never really managed to do, which is successfully pairing the sensible and pensive Asian culture together with the olden ways of the west. Starting out with a regular vocal hoedown for the drunk medicine men and sumo wrestlers - the ceremony begins. As things progress the track takes on the shape of a dizzying hybrid of Navaho n Samurai men - coming together to form a shelter for the mistreated and misguided souls. They chant and sing like their lives depended on it - howl at everything in sight - eliciting their forebears out of the burning embers.

The music itself is like a bizarre doo-wop. The voices and choral emanations seep in and out of each other - making up a totally unique listening experience that takes the listener through a series of wonderfully strange staccato melodic territories, reminding this listener of chit chatting animals with a mild form of Tourette's syndrome spurting Japanese - whilst sounding like an utterly insane rendition of the American Indian spirit induction accentuated through a tranced folk-like musical state.

In other words: this album sounds like nothing else. Absolutely nothing! Are you on the look out for something unique - something rare and precious like a turquoise gazelle jumping through hoops, then this album should be right up your alley.

Review by Dobermensch
3 stars The only reason I went out of my way to get this was for the singular fact that it appeared on that damn obsessive 'Nurse With Wound' list. Riddled with so many obscure 70's music, I simply couldn't resist.

'Osorezan' is unlike most Japrock albums you'd expect to hear from that time. Opening with a scream so loud you'll spit coffee from your mouth all over your monitor in sheer fright, then get really annoyed that you're so easily shaken.

There appears to be a lot of folk yelling and shouting for the next five minutes - both male and female. The fact that this is sung in Japanese makes it sound real and earthy. Some pretty cool wah- wah guitar really kick starts things 8 minutes in and from then on things really pick up with (what sounds like) huge massed choral vocals that resemble the beginning of the Peking Olympics from 2008. From here on in it's mainly operatic vocals creating a feeling just like the cover looks.

There's a multiple vocal part on side 2, that for the life of me, I can't remember who stole it in more recent times. Bah!

Not surprisingly 'Yamashirogumi' is best known for his soundtrack to the badly dated and infantile Manga film 'Akira' , where at least the music sounds ok.

Some of you less refined listeners like me may find this similar to listening to parts of 'Shogun' starring Richard Chamberlain in the early 80's, but that would just be insulting to a record that has clearly had a bucket-load of toil and sweat involved in its production.

So much for the Julian Cope book 'Japrock Sampler' - where I was led to believe that this was a pretty ordinary release. It is, in fact, a very unusual and highly original album, full of vocals sung in Japanese, creating a cacophony of otherworldly noise. Singers sound like they're dropping knives on concrete, a few of which hit their feet, resulting in shrieks and wails.

One for all prog 'outsiders' willing to try something different.

Review by VanVanVan
3 stars This is another of those albums that I certainly never would have heard of had I not become a member of the Progarchives forums. Just as there are some true gems languishing in obscurity, however, there are also genuinely mediocre albums out there that are interesting but not a whole lot more.

It's a big risk to release an album with only two side-long tracks. On the one hand, it can end up being a conceptual masterpiece, but if one of the songs is subpar than half of the album ends up being tanked. Unfortunately, I have to argue that this is the case here: the first track is a bizarre but brilliant genre bender that shows that music can be incredibly experimental and still very listenable. The second, on the other hand, just doesn't have enough mass to sustain its 19 minute run-time. As a result, the album falls decidedly into the middle of the quality spectrum, half great and half "just ok."

"Osorezan" begins with a piercing scream which is followed up by some drum fills. After this an ambient synth part that is itself quickly replaced by extremely minimalistic bass accompanied by a group of ghostly voices. All of this, keep in mind, happens in under two minutes, and the result is that the track becomes very unsettling, lacking any kind of tether to the average listener's musical reference points but at the same time avoiding becoming straight noise. The next section in particular highlights this very well, with a brief, spacey guitar and synth part quickly becoming overwhelmed with the wailing of the same haunting vocals from earlier on in the track. Apparently the translation of "Osorezan" is "Mountain of Fear," which I think seems very fitting given that most of this music wouldn't sound out of place in a haunted house. In fact, though there are instruments present (most notably percussion), probably a good three quarters of the first half of the track are dominated by those voices: growling, wailing, and sometimes even screaming. However, at about the 9 minute mark the track begins to take on more recognizable musical traits, taking up a steady rhythm for the first time and including an extended guitar solo that I think would fit in comfortably on several fusion releases, and a sax solo as well. Somehow, though, the extremely experimental opening 9 minutes meshes pretty darn well with this latter section, managing to avoid sounding like two separate pieces of music that were just slammed together. In fact, when the voices make a return in the last quarter of the track it even gives the track a nice sense of harmony, as if the wandering spirits of the first half have found refuge in the order of the music. A very minimalistic but pretty conclusion ties the song together, and "Osorezan" ends up being a very satisfying piece of work, though a decidedly strange one.

"Dou no Kenbai" also begins with a scream, though this one is a bit less panicked than the one that began "Osorezan." This is followed up with some chanted vocals that create a similarly eerie feeling to the beginning of "Osorezan." The chants eventually change into an almost percussive a capella part over which a solo female vocalist delivers a sometimes folky, sometimes operatic and sometimes spoken word vocal line. Unfortunately, in my opinion this vocals only motif is taken too far- in fact, there are no instruments on the track except for some brief percussion. It's an interesting idea, but it lacks a lot of the intensity of the vocal parts in "Osorezan" and thus doesn't set up an atmosphere nearly as effectively. Additionally, despite its best effort I do feel the track gets a little bit repetitive: it simply seems there's not enough here to sustain an entire 19 minute track. When the entire piece is essentially composed of the same textures it does get a little old.

So this album is kind of a mixed bag for me. Osorezan is really an excellent piece of experimental music, blending styles and going places that most music doesn't, and doing it all with an impressive intensity. "Dou no Kenbai," on the other hand, while certainly no less inspired or forward thinking, in my opinion doesn't have enough material to fill the amount of space it wants to. Sections are certainly interesting but on the whole the track doesn't do too much for me. Unfortunately, since its 19 minutes take up nearly half the album, this doesn't do great things for the album from a holistic standpoint either. Definitely worth a listen but I don't see myself listening through the entire album again anytime soon.

2.5/5, rounded up for "Osorezan"

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