Kazuki Tomokawa
1975–1977
Blank Forms Editions
/
2022
3CD Box Set
37.99
BF026028
Incl. VAT plus shipping / Orders from outside the EU are exempt from VAT
Tracklist
1The Flower of Youth 4:12
2Soul 4:27
3Yumiko's Spring 3:20
4Song from the Void 3:22
5Grave 4:10
6Hail the Wonderful Law of the Lotus Sutra 3:46
7Phone Call 0:38
8An Akita Folk Song Run Amok 2:38
9World School 1:37
10Protest, Age 23 3:08
11Mr. Ishimori 2:48
12First Bon 1:27
13A Cat Burglar in the Night 5:20
14Bright Night 5:26
15Grampa 4:31
16Goddam Winter 2:25
17Ameran Kuyuran 3:36
18Dagadzugu 2:48
19A Fitting Adolescence 3:26
20Footbridge 6:19
21The Spring is Here Again Song 2:57
22Fridge 0:50
23Smithereens 3:13
24Don't Kill the Sea Lions 2:51
25Harmonica 4:25
26A Little Ditty 3:30
27Stone 3:11
28Opening Theme 1:36
29Try Saying You're Alive! 2:24
30Kill or Be Killed 2:57
31Memory 3:18
32Got A Problem 3:56
33Namahage 6:04
34My Hometown is Also Inside a Dog 6:02
35The Boys of Hachiryü 4:14
36The Donpan Song Goes off the Rails 4:40
37Runaway Boy 3:54
38Missed My Time to Die 7:04

A poet, soothsayer, bicycle race tipster, actor, prolific drinker, self-taught guitarist, and living legend of Japanese sound, Kazuki Tomokawa catapulted into Tokyo’s avant-folk scene in the mid-1970s, forging a sound and sensibility marked by throat-wrenching vocals and searing ennui. Among his musical peers in postwar Japan, Tomokawa distinguished himself as a pioneer of radical individualism. He had “the personality of a hydrogen bomb”—as the notorious ultraleft band the Brain Police once put it—and a sound to match. Now, Blank Forms Editions gathers Tomokawa’s earliest records for the first time in a deluxe three CD boxed set comprised of Finally, His First Album (Harvest Records, 1975), Straight from the Throat (Harvest Records, 1976), and A String of Paper Cranes Clenched between My Teeth (Harvest Records, 1977).

In each record, Tomokawa shouts, cries, wails, and croons, his folk stylings tinged with psychedelia and swelling into ground-shaking rock. Many tracks are performed in his native Akita dialect, a highly regional vernacular of north Japan rarely heard beyond the prefecture, and even less often used in music. Matching his guttural, all-out vocals are profoundly existential meditations on everyday life and the world around him; this is, as record executive Kiichi Takara dubs it, “I-music.” It looks toward the interior, the quotidian, and the domestic with piercing and ever-honest eyes.

The accompanying liner notes (here translated for the first time) include introductions by Takara, a round table discussion with Brain Police, and lyrics for all three albums—tracking the rise of Tomokawa as the “screaming philosopher” of Japan. The boxed set will be in conjunction with the release of each record in LP format in 2022, and the musician’s 2015 memoir, Try Saying You’re Alive! (Blank Forms Editions, 2021), the first-ever English translation of his prose; together they provide the definitive introduction to the singular world of Kazuki Tomokawa.

Kazuki Tomokawa (b. 1950) is a prolific singer-songwriter from Hachiryu Village (now the town of Mitane) in the Akita Prefecture area of northern Japan. Since his first release in 1975, he has recorded more than thirty albums. The 2010 documentary about his life, La Faute des Fleurs, won the Sound & Vision award at the Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, and that same year saw the Japanese release of the book Dreams Die Vigorously Day by Day, a collection of his lyrics spanning forty years. His most recent albums are Vengeance Bourbon (2014) and Gleaming Crayon (2016), both on the Modest Launch label.

In spring 2022, Blank Forms Editions will release each record as an individual LP, available now for pre-order: Finally, His First Album; Straight from the Throat; A String of Paper Cranes Clenched between My Teeth.