Nippon Guitars: Instrumental Surf, Eleki & Tsugaru Rock 1966-1974 (Big Beat International)
Reviewed by Austin Powell, Fri., Feb. 10, 2012
Takeshi TerauchiNippon Guitars: Instrumental Surf, Eleki & Tsugaru Rock 1966-1974 (Big Beat International)
The Sixties instrumental surf craze hit postwar Japan with the same seismic magnitude as Beatlemania. Takeshi "Terry" Terauchi proved the incomparable leader of the movement as a Zen master Buddhist and quicksilver guitarist with violent, needlepoint precision. As bewitching as the Sonics or the 13th Floor Elevators at peak levitation, Nippon Guitars collects the greatest hits from his two most prominent groups, the Bunnys and Blue Jeans. Terauchi achieved national acclaim for his fusion of Japanese traditionals and the modern eleki boom, captured here in opening riptide "Ganroku Hanami Odori" from 1967 as well as the tremolo terror of "Hoshi Eno Tabiji (Journey to the Stars)," which sounds like a lost translation of the Pulp Fiction theme. That Eastern accent makes Terauchi's body of work an asterisk in the surf rock canon, instantly familiar like the Bo Diddley beat, an effect heightened by oriental touches in the hypnotic "Sado Okesa" and "Touryanse," the latter rising like a sun-dazed mirage in a Kurisawa Western. Side two of the vinyl unfolds a near-sequential and heavy awakening: kerosene dream "Nambuzaka Yuki No Wakare," serene ballad "Tsugaru Yamabiko Uta (Mountain Echo)," and closing chase scene "Tsugaru Eleki Bushi." Nippon Guitars offers more than a retrospective; it's a revelation.