Overhang Party - Complete Studio Recordings [Important Records - 2013]
Overhang Party is one of the most renowned bands from the fertile jungle of Japanese psychedelic, weird and noisy rock. It's only logic that a label which is extremely interested in underground music from the Far East like Important Records releases a box-set dedicated to them. Comprising of the whole studio output of Overhang Party plus a previously unreleased recording session and lots of bonus tracks, "Complete Studio Recordings" is an excellent chance to explore the full body of work of this legendary band.
The first CD, simply called "Overhang Party 1" (yes, these guys like to be cryptic) was originally released in 1993 and it's probably the most outright "extreme" of the bunch. Its five compositions are noisy, liquid, messy and very much variegated. Complete percussion onslaught wrestles with bizarre distorted chanting vocals; fuzzed-out guitar mangling rises above a chaotic maelstrom of twisting sound; an extremely diluted classic psych rock track is punctuated by seldom overly delayed vocals and slow moving, drugged guitar solos; chord shredding and eerie echoed guitar feedback revolve around a gurgling mass of low frequencies and much more. Everything is spot-on and it's a bliss for Japanese psychedelic music fans. The dirty grain of the sound and the overly noisy nature of most of the tracks will please anybody who's into Les Rallizes Dénudés, High Rise and such. Hell, it sometimes reminds me even of the obscure Japanese noise unit Nord. The bonus track on this CD (which is a different take of a track from "Overhang Party 4") is an even more noisy mass of guitar feedback manipulation and complete mess which frightfully reminded me of Torturing Nurse. Impressive!
The second CD, from 1994, starts on a less delirious note, with the simple good old psychedelic rock which many Japanese bands mastered and iconized. Overhang Party carefully walk a thin line between catchy music and total weirdness, managing to obtaining a very good mix. This is probably some of the most melodic and "easy"material ever coming from this niche of experimental music, and it's a refreshing listen after the massacre of the first album. Some tracks, like the mellow "No Traveler Returns" could even be hit list material. I'm sure this record will be appreciated also by people who're not into this kind of stuff, since it's simply and plainly good.The quality of sound and the vocal delivery strangely called to mind some of Jojo Hiroshige's (Hijokaidan) solo works.
"Overhang Party 4", which despite its name is the third of the set, was released in 1998. Its first track "Kizashi" is probably my favorite one, with its weird blending of piano, psych rock, a bass that seems to come out of an old Italian forgotten prog record and extremely clean sounds that also characterize the rest of the album. This set pretty much follows the steps of "Overhang Party 2", but the simple addition of piano and violins manages to add to the weirdness of the songs and enrich the band's sounds with unexpectedly fitting elements. The Velvet Underground would be proud of the results! In fact this is the most "sixties" sounding record of the box-set, also because of the style and production of the vocals and the way the instruments blend together. I would say that Phil Spector would be proud of this wall of sound too.
The previously unreleased sessions of disc number four are of course the most juicy part of this release, and they don't disappoint. It's like listening to the perfect recap of all the previous records rendered in a fresh and pristine clean product. Overhang Party's religious dedication to the god of fuzz and feedback is still evident, yet the songs maintain a certain grace and delicacy. Even the fastest of the set, "Pyramid", never goes too crazy. "Overhang Party Last Recording" is a really good album in itself, with great proper rock songs that seem to come straight from a deranged parallel universe's version of the seventies.
In conclusion, I think this box set is great for both fans of Overhang Party and newcomers who want to discover this band. As I already mentioned, some of their songs could even interest people who're not used to this kind of material. This is as perfect as Japanese psychedelic rock gets: I suggest everybody to listen to the samples on Important Records' website and judge for themselves.Nicola Vinciguerra