1.Eastern Most 1
2.Eastern Most 2
1.Eastern Most 3
2.Eastern Most 4
1.Eastern Most 5
2.Eastern Most 6
1.Eastern Most 7
2.Eastern Most 8 (previously unreleased)
Asahito Nanjo - Cello, Recorder, Bass, China Gong,Temple Bells, Hansho, Eastern String, Electronics, Organ
Makoto Kawabata - Flute, Recorder, China gong, Tabla, Piri, Oboe, Harmonium, Viola, Violine
Hisashi Yasuda - Vibes, Kei, Biwa, Shakujo, Hansho, China Gong,Temple Bells, Cello
Recorded Engineer - Yasuda Hisashi
Mixed By - Asahito Nanjo
Music - Toho Sara
Concept - Nanjo Asahito
Arranged By - Toho Sara
Produced by - Asahito Nanjo
Black Editons release remixed and remastered by Asahito Nanjo
Vinyl Mastering by JJ Golden, Golden Mastering
Toho Sara 東方沙羅
Deluxe 2LP w/ Download
Deluxe double LP, gatefold edition featuring heavy tip-on jackets with spot color, spot gloss UV and soft touch coating. Full color, spot color and glossed inserts. Digital download is included.
Pressed to high quality vinyl at RTI.
SKU: BE-012/58/LA2, LP- $30
Also available as part of the specially priced
Black Editions 2020 Summer Bundle
A mystifying work of Japanese avant-garde shamanism, Toho Sara’s 1995 debut introduced a radical new sound from Asahito Nanjo (High Rise), Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple) and Hisashi Yasuda - playing an array of ancient instruments including tabla, piri, harmonium, biwa, shakujo and hansho the group evokes an otherworldly ritual music, meditative and haunting.
Originally released on CD by P.S.F. Japan, newly expanded, remastered and available for the first time ever on vinyl.
In 1995, Tokyo’s legendary label P.S.F. Records released two very different albums, connected by the shadowy personality behind them: Nanjo Asahito, well known by music fanatics acquainted with his band High Rise. The pair of 1995 releases, though, were quite different from the brain-scrambling, fuzz-driven, motor-psycho sounds of High Rise. One, by the mysterious Musica Transonic, refracted that distorted rock through a prism that broke it into abstract, free-form shapes.
We’re here, though, with regard to the other album, the self-titled debut by 東方沙羅, Toho Sara. The band and album were presented with no more than the names of the members and a list of instruments – and what a list of instruments! This was nearly the direct opposite of High Rise, with nary a guitar in sight. Instead, we see cello, flute, tabla, harmonium, viola, and more mysterious entries like biwa, shakujo, hansho, and more.
From the first of the simply numbered songs (no titles here) it’s clear that Nanjo, Kawabata Makoto, and Yasuda Hisashi have something special in mind: the delicate percussion and woodwinds are quickly joined by a much more ominous drone, and they combine brightness with murk throughout the album. Played quietly, it’s like being haunted by restless spirits, but raise the volume and the restlessness is amplified into other-worldly reverberations.
Nanjo and Kawabata had played together for some time before this album, including a band called Johari, which brought together ethnic and contemporary music. They formed Toho Sara to revisit the idea, focusing on Asian spirituality while experimenting with acoustic instruments. Yasuda joined them after playing in Nanjo’s avant-garde outfit Group Musica, and later played in the early Acid Mothers Temple with Kawabata.
Toho Sara translates to Eastern Most, which follows the idea behind the group. Fascinated by shamanism, Nanjo wanted to create an avant-garde musical embodiment of ideas like kagura, ancient ritual theater, and bring it to album and stage. Playing live, the band would also use electric instrumentation, but this album is purely acoustic, and the sounds feel like they’re happening outdoors at midnight.
As the instruments alternately whistle and groan, and the percussion rattles with feeling rather than strict rhythm, one may wonder if this is free jazz given a ritual treatment, or ritual music that feels like jazz due to inescapable modern interpretation. The fourth track, the album’s eleven-minute centerpiece, bursts open in a chaotic clatter that barely disperses as mysterious scrapings and bowings come and go, a bewitching accretion of brain-scrambling sounds. It’s a dramatic, eerie, and anarchic passage that would undeniably suit a summoning ritual for Moorcock’s chaos-god Arioch.
Some of the tracks are calmer, even peaceful if you don’t mind a bit of ambient dread seeping into your peacetime. Slow drumbeats and gentle gongs are layered with not-quite-atonal woodwinds, intermittent clacks of wooden percussion accent some variety of buzzing woodwind, and droning harmonium underlies clarinet-like slow melodies. There’s no logic to grasp here, often no structure to framewhat you’re hearing, and your only recourse is to let it flow and see where it takes you.
It’s clear that the group’s goal of creating “avant-garde shamanism” was successful, and now, 25 years later, it’s long-past time for more listeners to get their chance to have their minds spun by this album.
- Mason Jones, San Francisco, CA., 2020