Sunday, February 25, 2007

RNA Organism - R.N.A.O. Meets P.O.P.O. LP (Vanity Records 0006) 1980

This post should make many of you happy. It is the highly sought-after RNA Organism LP released on Vanity Records in 1980. An unexpected snowfall kept me indoors most of the day allowing me to archive this fine album.

Again, to quote the Vanity Records label article in Music Magazine:

"Receiving a cassette tape from RNA Organism by air-mail, Agi (Yuzuru - head of Vanity Records) mistakenly thought they were from overseas and highly acclaimed the band in Rock Magazine, however, it was a clever ploy by Kaoru Sato from Kyoto. This album is amazing dub music with funky bass, noise guitar, trumpet and rhythm machine - sort of like a heavier version of Andy Partridge's Take Away. Subsequently the group changed its name to EP-4, which became known for its guerrilla live performances as well as simultaneously releasing its debut album from both major and indie labels. Meanwhile, Sato disappeared from the music scene in the mid-80's."

A Japanese music source on-line provides a little detail regarding one of their performances from 1983 - what looks to be three appearances around Japan in one day:

"The most remarkable thing about them is 1983.5.21 incident. The name care sized seal of +----+ was attached on electric-light poles, 5.21 billboard, walls of building, telephone booths and everywhere in Harajyuku and Shibuya (in Tokyo). On the day of event, they performed gigs with time lag at 12:00 in Osaka, at 18:00 in Nagoya, at 1:00 at night in +----+ (originally at 0:00), at 4:30 in Tokyo. The seal became a sort of social phenomenon. Despite mid-night gigs, many stylish and snobbish people gathered in Shibuya. At the same time, it was the day that they were supposed to released LP's (Multilevel Holarchy: Indies, Showa Demise: Major); however, "Showa Demise" infringed the regulation of record and Multi Label Horror Key was released only. Later, it was renamed as "Showa Amnesty and released as book with LP-sized thin small magazine from Indie."

Aside from the RNA Organism LP, Sato released seven albums that I know of as EP-4 stretching into the 90's (not disappearing in the 80's per the Music article):

Seifuku Nikutai [1983]
Multilevel Holarchy [1983]
Lingua Franca 1 [1983]
The Crystal Monster [1985]
Five To One [Hot Records (Australia), 1985]
Lingua Franca X [1993]
Found Tapes [1994]

Aside from sounding similar to other Japanese New Wave/No Wave/Electronic artists at the time, there is also a strong bond here with the early 80's German New Wave/Electronic scene. Truly one of the best records from the early 80's.



Salaried Man Club said...

Definitely one of the best Vanity Records I've come across thus far (picked it up from a friend a few months back).

Track 7 is absolutely fantastic, pounding anthem.

Experimental occultation. Rhythm. Rare.

Is it possible for you to upload or provide a link for that Music Magazine ARTICLE that talks comprehensively about Vanity and its founder??


Over The Moon said...

This is the MUSIC magazine article the poster requested. Just thought I would pass along...

"Vanity Fair In Osaka"
by Satoru Higashiseto
from Music No. 2, 1998.

Vanity Records in Osaka was one of the unforgettable hallmarks of the early Japanese underground music scene of the late-70's. This label was founded by Yuzuru Agi, the music critic/editor of ROCK MAGAZINE. Agi was a sort of alternative visionary with a superb talent to assess new musical modes at a time when blues and West Coast-style rock still dominated the local music scene. He was also responsible for cloning the Japlish term "techno-pop" - which he used to describe Eno-produced bands like Talking Heads and DEVO - that later became internationally known via Yellow Magic Orchestra. Inspired by punk and the flood of indie labels that swept New York and London, Agi started Vanity Records in 1978, releasing 11 LPs, 3 singles, 12 flexis, and 6 cassettes between '78 and '82 (each release limited to 300-500 copies).

DADA: JYO (Vanity 0001/LP/1978) Drawing inspiration from German electronic music, Fripp & Eno and Heldon, Dada (Kenji Konishi and Mutsuhiko Izumi) infused synth and guitar driven sounds with gagaku-inspired drones to achieve a sort of Oriental lyricism. The band subsequently released the album DADA (King '81) before splitting. Meanwhile, Konishi formed 4D, shifting his direction towards techno dance music, while Izumi joined the jazz-rock group Kennedy, and later After Dinner.

SAB: CRYSTALIZATION (Vanity 0002/LP/1978) A 19-year-old Sab produced this spacey-electronic music almost entirely by himself using multiple recoring and such instruments as guitar, synth, and various electronics. Here, Sab creates crystal-clear electronic music comparable to Magical Power Mako, Kitaro, and the Sky label. Pre-new age music. Since this talented musician went to India, nobody has known his whereabouts.

AUNT SALLY: AUNT SALLY (Vanity 0003/LP/1979) Aunt Sally's debut album incorporates waltz and tango into rock, evocative of pre-war European nostalgia with excellent literary lyrics. This high school band consisting of three girls and two boys had an idiosyncratic presence in the local Osaka punk/new wave scene. After the band's brief existence, the vocalist Phew went solo and released several albums including: PHEW (Pass '81), OUR LIKENESS (Mute '92), BLIND LIGHT/ABSENCE OF TIME (Alida '94).

TOLERANCE: ANONYM (Vanity 0004/LP/1979) The sound of this artist duo (Junko Tange and Masami Yoshikawa) from Tokyo was abstract and monolithic, using electronics, guitar, piano, and vocal. Nurse With Wound supposedly took the phrase, "To The Quiet Men From A Tiny Girl," from this album sleeve for the title of their second album. Sort of like a precursor of illbient.

MORIO AGATA: NORIMONO ZUKAN (Vanity 0005/LP/1980) Morio Agata is a folk-rock singer, known for his "Red Elegy" which became a huge hit in 1972. Joined by various musicians - including Phew, Yukio Fujimoto, Jun Kitada (Inu), Taiqui (Ultrabide/pre-Hijokaidan), and Chic [Chie] Mukai - Agata produced electro-pop music fused with his unique song world. Low-tech, yet experimental, this musical project was sort of similar to Neil Young's TRANS. Agata is now active as a film director and actor, as well as a musician. Takehisa Kosugi played violin for his album EL JAGUAR DEL BANDONEON.

RNA ORGANISM: R.N.A.O Meet P.O.P.O (Vanity 0006/LP/1980) Receiving a cassette tape from RNA Organism by air-mail, Agi mistakenly thought that they were from overseas and highly acclaimed the band in ROCK MAGAZINE; however, it was a clever ploy from by Kaoru Sato from Kyoto. This album is amazing dub music with funky bass, noise guitar, trumpet and rhythm machine - sort of like a heavier version of Andy Partridge's TAKE AWAY. Subsequently the group changed its name to EP-4, which became known for its guerilla live performances as well as simultaneously releasing its debut album from both major and indie labels. Meanwhile, Sato disappeared from the music scene in the mid-80's.

SYMPATHY NERVOUS: SYMPATHY NERVOUS (Vanity 0007/LP/1980) Using a self-designed computer system called "Universal Character Generator," Sympathy Nervous produced an interesting fusion of industrial noise and dance music. The music sounded low-tech, but it was full of interesting ideas and imagination. Analogous to Daniel Miller's Normal and Thomas Leer & Robert Rental, Sympathy Nervous was prototypical of "bedroom techno." Along with the techno upsurge of the '90s, they reentered the music scene, releasing their music from the Belgian KK label.

B.G.M: BACK GROUND MUSIC (Vanity 0008/LP/1980) Similar to ESG and Liquid Liquid this high school band played new wave garage funk. As with Sympathy Nervous, the leader of the band Takayuki Shiraishi reappeared to the techno scene of the 90's under the name of Planetroid, releasing Detroit techno influenced works.

NORMAL BRAIN: LADY MADE (Vanity 0009/LP/1980) Normal Brain was a project of Yukio Fujimoto, using electronic gadgets like analog-synth, rhythm machine, and Speak & Spell. His music was intelligent and witty, traversing the fine line between modern art and pop. Fujimoto's minimalist approach also had a child-like playfulness and elegance, conceptually paralleling the music of early-Kraftwerk or Eno. Currently, Fujimoto is active as sound artist, producing sound objects and installations.

VARIOUS MUSIC: MUSIC (Vanity 0010-11/2LP/1981) This box set includes a two LP compilation of various home-recorded materials, in addition to a postcard and numbered armband. It features 13 groups - Pessimist, Unable Mirror, MR, Anode/Cathode, Kiiro Radical, Tokyo, Daily Expression, Plasma Music, Nose, New York, Arbeit, Isolation, Nectar Low - that were totally anonymous and obscure. Most of the selections are low-fi electronic music with lots of interesting ideas, which are quite entertaining as well.

TOLERANCE: DIVINE (Vanity 0012/LP/1981) Tolerance, the only band that released a second album from Vanity, continued the musical explorations of their debut album on DIVINE. Driven by their uniquely female sensibilities, they produced an interestingly mysterious sound. Soon thereafter, Tolerance/Junko Tange disappeared from the scene. Incidentally, Agi picked this album as his favorite from the label.

Vanity Records ended in 1982.

7" Singles.
Sympathy Nervous: "Polaroid" (VA-S1/'80)
Mad Tea Party "Hide & Seek" (VA- S2/'80)
Perfect Mother: "You'll No So Wit" (VA-S3/'80)

Cassette Tapes
Noise Box (VAT1-6/'81)
Salaried Man Club: Gray Cross (VAT-1)
Kiiro Radical: Denki Noise Dance (VAT-2)
Deanseikwan: Pocket Plaetaria (VAT-3)
Invivo: B.B.B. (VAT-4)
Wireless Sight: Endless Dark Dream (VAT-5)
Nishimura Alimoti: (VAT-6)

Flexis (Supplement to ROCK MAGAZINE)
Max V. Mathews: "The Magnetic Fields of The Earth" (Vanity 2001/'79)
Brian Eno: "The Voice of Brian Eno" (Vanity 2002/'79)
Morio Agata: "Koi No Radio City" (Vanity 2003/'80)
Normal Brain: "Frottage" (Vanity 2004/'80)
Tolerance: "Today's Thrill" (Vanity 2005/'80)
Hovlakin: "Pelakin Girl" (Vanity 2006/'80)
Kurt Schwitters: "Phone Tisch Poesie" (Vanity 8101/'81)
System: "Love Song" (Vanity 8102/'81)
B. C. Gilbert & G. Lewis: "Cross, Grow, Prayer" (Vanity 8103/'81)
Die Krupps: "June 6, '81, Krefeld" (Vanity 8104/'81)
Furious Pig: "June 3, '81, The Venue, London" (Vanity 8105/'81)

Atlantis Audio Archive said...

Thanks for posting that OTM!!

In addition to the above & the link included in the post, I've also found these:

a brief overview of Japanese music going back to the sixties:

Also this site at Soundohm which contains pictures of the LP:

thunderperfectmind said...

atlantis - once again, i cannot thank you enough for this Vanity stuff...amazing...absolutely amazing...

thanks to both of you for the links!

mutantsounds said...

thank you thank you thank you:)

fuzztunnel said...

Your Normal Brain post has opened my mind a little further than it had been previously. I am now irrevocably committing my circuits to hunting down and listening to all Vanity releases I can find.
Much much thanks for your efforts sharing this and the Normal Brain post, above.

rusnon said...

wow im blown away by the vanity stuff you are posting; Thank you to you for your work its sincerely appreciated