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TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS

Psychedelic/Space Rock • Japan


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Taj-Mahal Travellers biography
Formed by the contemporary "fluxus" artist Takehisa Kosugi, the musical project Taj-Mahal Travellers started various musical improvisations at the end of the 60s. Their two studio albums, respectively published in 1972 and 1974 present a vast collection of sonic interferences, electro-drones and massive spacey/psych improvisations. A pioneering Japanese band with a rather ephemeral career. Since the 70s, Takehisa Kosugi has pursued his career in numerous electro-acoustic essays. His work is closed to 20th avant garde composers (David Tudor, Morton Subotnick...) with some reminiscences from Klaus Schulze and Conrad Schnitzler.

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Live at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm 9 July 197Live at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm 9 July 197
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Live in Tokyo 19th August 1974Live in Tokyo 19th August 1974
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TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS discography


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TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.16 | 16 ratings
August 1974
1974

TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.26 | 14 ratings
July 15, 1972
1972
5.00 | 2 ratings
OZ Days
1973
4.14 | 7 ratings
Live Stockholm July 1971
1998

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TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS Reviews


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 August 1974 by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.16 | 16 ratings

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August 1974
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

4 stars TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS formed in Tokyo, Japan back in 1969, while this particular double album was recorded in 1974 but released in 1975. They were a seven piece band with lots of percussion along with harmonica, violin, timpani, synths, double bass, electronics, mandolin, tuba, vocal expressions and trumpet. Despite all the instruments this is a sparse sounding recording with lots of space for the sounds to breathe for the most part. Sounds drone continually yet they somehow keep this interesting. It's hard for me to explain how they keep my attention throughout, but all I know is that I loved this right from the first listen. A big thankyou to Guldbamsen for his review of their debut which caused me to check these guys out. We get four side long tracks all clocking in around the 20 minute mark.

Side A drones in and out with different sounds coming and going throughout. Again I can't really explain the appeal for me other than it is relaxing and it makes me feel good. I do think this band had a gift when it comes to Psychedelic music. You would think the start of Side B was a continuation of Side A until it becomes fuller after a couple of minutes. Check out the vocal expressions around 6 1/2 minutes and 8 minutes in as the mandolin and so much more continues. A calm before 9 minutes that really continues to the end as it becomes dark and at times haunting.

The second album begins with Side C and we get percussion-like sounds to start and it's not long before spacey synths drift in floating over top along with other sounds. The synths stop as it becomes quite sparse with not a lot going on until before 7 minutes when the sound seems to build slowly. Some interesting sounds that we haven't heard yet after 8 minutes that continue to change and evolve the rest of the way. Side D starts slowly with percussion before we get some electric violin and electronics. Sounds eventually echo and without question the violin is featured here more than on any other song. It just doesn't sound like a normal violin and that's pretty cool. Check out the sound before 16 minutes. Nice. This continues for some time then it calms down some with vocal expressions late.

Transcendent is a word that is associated with the music of this band a lot and I have to agree. A lot of German bands like CLUSTER and the like from the early seventies certainly come to mind when I listen to this recording.

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 July 15, 1972 by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Live, 1972
4.26 | 14 ratings

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July 15, 1972
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group Site and Forum Admin

5 stars "Let's build ourselves a pyramid out of air!"

And together the 7 dwarves put their heads together and conjured up an idea on how to construct monumentally colossal and intricate architecture through sound. Working together like small bees, they managed to create an unparalleled string of albums by releasing musical pheromones in the air, seducing and enticing their fellow compatriots to take part in whatever honey-dripping invisible triangular cathedral of the day. And like all bees, the fruit of the labour - the meaning of it all - was to be(e) and fly and build and buzz along with the hive...

Throwing all reviewing manners out the window is probably the best way to go about writing about an album like this anyway...... Imagine a busy beehive trying to perform Tangerine Dream's Zeit inside a huge castle of reverberating iron. That's Taj Mahal Travellers for you! Or maybe a floating sand dune elliptically crashing into an electric signal....on repeat and in different octaves.

The 7 dwarves never go for the easy way out, or maybe they do because it's the only way they can work together? I honestly don't know, but it sure is a thrilling thing to witness. The music is free - completely improvised, as all their other records are. Slow drones that edge their way forth like a bare bellied Sleepy squishing on his stomach through jello and fine sand. Unreal wind instruments like wailing trumpets that sound so frail and longing, you could swear you were listening to a mother elephant mourning the passing of Dumbo and his little mouse friend. A bass tuba that raaaaaws on like a deep pulsating wall of blackness - foxtrotting through the night with the ominous and, at the same time, gentle electronics that have a way of sneaking up on you like shadows from a moving car - the city ninjas.

Over and under this fabulous structure, you get the violin sorcery. Yet another thing that moves in mysterious ways as the good Bono says, only here it moves entirely differently than what you'd expect such a nostalgic and classic instrument to do. It slithers, writhes, drones - creates elliptic circles of sound that never really sound like a violin. It's everything but actually, and come to think of it, the violin itself is probably the best advocate for all the dwarves playing. It deceives you....tricks you into thinking that it's something else. A wonderful kind of betrayal that flusters your senses and makes belief out of everything around it. All of this music is a sweet deceptive veil dropped softly and poignantly on your ears.

Take this out among the stars and watch the universe zoom in on you. Watch them dwarves build pyramid upon pyramid....drifting and floating on the cool winter night. They sparkle and shimmer in the moonlight and make you feel as if you're witnessing things you can't and at some future time will have immense difficulty in explaining to folks who don't believe in the magic power of music that builds structures out of air and can grab you by the throat and heart and soul all at once.

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 August 1974 by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.16 | 16 ratings

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August 1974
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars The Japanese answer to Tangerine Dream's "Zeit". As the most famous German album, it's made of four tracks, one per side of about 20 minutes. The difference is that Taj-Mahal Travellers didn't spend their time in finding exciting title tracks. They are just "Side A" to "Side D".

Very spacey sounds, minimalistic but not dissonant as many psychedelia. So if psychedelia and space rock are two different things, they belong mainly to the second.

Listening to Side A you can imagine astronauts exploring a cave on an outer planet, or an abandoned starship encountered in the deep space. It's a music that could fit very well as soundtrack of a SciFi Thriller movie. Better than "Birth of Liquid Plejades". Something similar to a sitar, God knows what instrument it is, reminds us of the band's name. Also the percussions in the second part of the track add some indo flavours. Close to the end, some elephants or other wild animals scream in the jungle. We have suddenly been transported from Space to Earth, or at least on a planet full of wildlife.

Side B is spacey again. The "elephants" are still present, but the keyboards countinue their travel in the deep space. A string instrument, probably a mandolin takes the role of giving the rhythm if it can be called rhythm. It's a very unusual way to use a mandolin. The other sounds are mainly electronic plus something similar to a didgeridoo (electronic of course). Again, they remind me to Zeit.

Side C opens very low-volume, with percussions still in indian style but with "violins" and bells, too. there are positive sensations. It's like waking up before the day becomes too warm. The Asian flavour permeates the music. Closing my eyes I can see the Indo river flowing...well I didn't take anything, I just like creating mental images when the music is evocative. The bells have also a bit of "Barong" so instead of the Indo it could be a temple in the island of Bali. Then we move north to Tibet. It's like viewing postcards of the Far East. Sometimes it becomes a bit more chaotic, but still very evocative.

Side D starts with didgeridoo and voices, that means electronic sounds, with some percussive noises which lie low in the background. Edgar Froese's "Aqua" is a good reference. This is the base to which sometimes a keyboard adds and removes sounds. We are looking for small variations on a repetitive base. Going to the end, the repetitive base is replaced by percussions and a wind instrument. Here it comes back from space again and fits into psychedelia, but just for a while. The final part of this suite is very Floydian and reminds me to the minimalistic parts of Intertellar Overdrive, Saucerful of Secrets, or also some parts of "More".

My rating is between 3 and 4 stars, because not ALL the proggers are keen to have this kind of music in their collections, but this applies also the the early Tangerine Dream and to some krautrock, so I round it up to 4.

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 July 15, 1972 by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Live, 1972
4.26 | 14 ratings

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July 15, 1972
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

4 stars Like all Taj Mahal Travellers albums, this is a superb recording. Particularly if you're into 'Kluster'. With dark creepy happenings from the outset, It reminds me very much of Cosi Fanni Tutti's Coronet horn from 'Throbbing Gristle' on the album 'Heathen Earth'

I could name many bands from the 80's who must surely have taken this album as an inspiration for their own sound. In particular 'Zoviet France', 'Coil' 'Lustmord' and early 'Current 93'.

The 'Taj Mahal Travellers' decided mainly to perform their music outdoors, often on beaches and hilltops, creating spontaneously improvised drones, delayed and reverbed violin wailings and a large number of highly unusual instruments. Very unorthodox even today, using all sorts of strange gadgets, devices and electronic filters. If you're at the extreme end of prog - this could be right up your alley.

Timeless and creepy.

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 July 15, 1972 by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Live, 1972
4.26 | 14 ratings

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July 15, 1972
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Marty McFly
Special Collaborator Errors and Omissions Team

3 stars On my journey through Japanese Prog waters (with guidance of few kind Jap fellow-Prog- sters), I realized that this is something I will have to pass through. I like challenges and so I've tried to do this as honestly as possible.

Results are sporadic, unsure. On one hand, I feel that this isn't the kind of music I normally listen to. But as I said, this is quite common, because the more Prog I listen, the more adventurous (and open-minded) I feel. So not usual stuff, but there are certain elements that cannot be overlooked. So I'm fair (or at least trying to be), so you, dear reader, try to be fair too and don't think instantly that I want to drown this album because it sounds weird and non-conformistic. I certainly tried few times to be as open as possible.

Bunch of weird sounds and noises with a lot of empty (quiet) passages at worst, brave new finding of path through uncommon sound structures, improvization and electronic experimentation at best. This is journey. I'm unsure about album origins (I could have asked, of course).

But certainly better (for me) than Tangerine Dream's Alpha Centauri. Why comparing these two bands ? Because they have a lot in common. Except through Taj-Mahal's music is guidance in form of (ahem) harmonica. Sounds quite interesting and original, I never heard anything like that before, that's for sure. Through first track there are various sounds produced, some of them resembling horse galloping, some undefinable machine shakings, some army drums rattling etc. In this matter, "July 15" works. Or there was wind noise few times.

In originality factor, they would get very high grades, very good ones. However, as album that is intended for listening, this is worse. And sadly, I value this element too. Album that demands listeners attention (full attention) and so I'm giving it. Actually, I won't say that it's unmelodic or dissonant at all, nothing too big. It's weird and impact it made on me is big enough to make me think about this album for the rest of night. Yes, night is good time to listen this music.

Also, I'm not Psych lover by heart (only by curiosity and need to explore more music, various albums, genres, style etc), so I won't like it as Keishiro-san. So I hope this won't offend anybody. This:

3(+), however not bad rating. Actually I like it quite a lot, but I feel that I'm not the right person to evaluate this album.

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 August 1974 by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.16 | 16 ratings

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August 1974
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych / Avant / Neo Teams

4 stars For them, everything is an instrument. For them, everything is alright. For them, everything is forever. TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS is such an outfit in Japanese psychedelic scene.

I suggest for them the words "recording" or "stage" should not be suitable. The recording work should follow their occasional play itself, and the stage should be the ground where they happen on bearing sounds. (That is, if they play to surf and ripples by chance, the seashore can be their stage I think.) So each of their "songs" cannot be copied again even by themselves - a once-in-a-lifetime one.

Anyway, their play is always lazy but perfect. Guess they should make "equivocal" arrangement before playing but once they set out on a performance, each plays free and improvised without any theoretical thought. (Well I always wonder why they play improvisational sounds together steadily and completely...are their minds only one?) And their performance itself can let them fall into a trance and fly higher and higher. The percussive stairway of Side C is exactly a typical example. In the latter half, loud and aggressive low tone noises motivate them massively. On that moment, TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS should go on a trip for the psychedelia beyond expression. There is nothing special or nothing persistent - only air or space is there!

They are not musicians. They are artistic creators. Listening to this "art" can notify you of this fact without any suspicion.

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 July 15, 1972 by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Live, 1972
4.26 | 14 ratings

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July 15, 1972
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by DamoXt7942
Forum & Site Admin Group Moderator / Psych / Avant / Neo Teams

5 stars Very mysterious and curious for me - always wonder where they should go toward on stage. Fusion with audience? Or mergence into the space?

In the first track Takehisa's keen and sharp-edged violin solo and warm harmonica sounds with Tokio's utterly messy jazzy drumming might strike the audience under the ground deeply. Very interesting each of their instrumental shots should go on his own way but the space should be so far from the word "loose" or "sloppy". Over 25 minutes will rush away over our brain - be immersed absolutely. And the second track is certainly shouts from the inferno...electronic earthquake can shake and break us into pieces. Such a sticky and persistent attack is surely their shout of mind, I always feel. Painful sounds. The last twisted and twittered violin missile attacks can make us more and more nauseously comfortable like cannabis. If you listen to the track on takin' a drive, you must get carsick...anesthetic carsick. And at last, you have to die out by an iron board beaten strongly and loudly!

Yes they are, as the band name says, travellers in the musical space. Indeed each member had quite different character, position and opinion for music from the others, but could push his musical style toward the others and all are well-melted and matured. Amazingly, Takehisa's violin solo navigated the band itself across the sea named "the stage" and NO other member followed the navigator - each should play as he liked LOL. However, they were wondrous harmonized completely together! Basically on stage they always tried to go for free-formed but well-balanced music and space. It's exactly beyond expression that they could construct and concentrate "three song world(s)" strictly in spite of simple but scattered and confused stuffs in the beginning.

Please enjoy the "space" travel, a Japanese pride! Anaesthetically recommended by DamoXt7942.

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 August 1974 by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.16 | 16 ratings

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August 1974
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by Dobermensch

5 stars Thought I'd save my second review for one of my all time favourites. This appears on the famous 'Nurse With Wound' list of which I've heard about 90%. (The list contains around 275 of the most obscure, out there and and experimental bands you could hear before 1981). This certainly belongs on it. It sounds very similar to mid eighties Zoviet France who I imagine listened to this for inspiration.

There are no guitars, bass or drums. All instruments (mostly hand made and stringed) are fed through filters and effects creating a droning, swirling and weirdly surreal sound. 'August '74' doesn't sound dated at all and reminds me a lot of the atmospherics of Current 93, Schloss Tegal and Lustmord. It's really creepy and dark particularly when the dulcimer and vocals appear.

Beware! - I put this on whilst camping in a tent with my girlfriend in 2002 and it backfired badly. We only got 10 minutes into the cd when I was told it was far too scary for a dark night on Arran in Scotland beside an ancient graveyard! She then went in a big huff. Ah well, women eh?

It's definitely their most accomplished work and a lot better than the dreadful 'Oz Days' album where the The Taj Mahal Travellers sound completely out of place with the other bands. This is a definite 5 star album in my books and probably in my top ten albums of all time. You'll probably have a really hard time tracking this down though - it's incredibly difficult to find nowadays.

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 OZ Days by TAJ-MAHAL TRAVELLERS album cover Live, 1973
5.00 | 2 ratings

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OZ Days
Taj-Mahal Travellers Psychedelic/Space Rock

Review by philippe
Special Collaborator Content Development & Krautrock Team

5 stars This album is absolutely mindbowing and a productive explosion of weird haunted sounds created by violins, electronic psych dynamics. The two parts are largely improvised and catch the essence of the moment, highly inspired and mystically powerful. The intense assemblage, superposition of sounds work perfectly to offer a huge freak out jam. Ambiences are rather abstract and immersive, revealing a surprising dialectic between Dadaist, surreal motifs (with reminiscences from Fluxus sound installations, happenings), always moving minimalist abrasive / ethereal drones for voices, amplified acoustic instruments and bizarre percussions. Among the coolest weirdest things offered in 70's psych rock and surely the most original Japanese musical association from that era (beyond the kraut rocking Far East Family Band and others). This is devastating "poetical" music against all sort of conformism.

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