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Overhang Party – Complete Studio Recordings

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Overhang Party - Complete Studio RecordingsI first heard Overhang Party via their contributions to a couple of PSF’s Tokyo Flashback compilations back in the ’90s and a CD-R of their second album 2 that cultural commentator Jon Savage gave me around the same time. Since then I have almost completely failed to find any records by this most elusive of Japanese groups, the sole exception being a copy of their (I assumed) fourth album 4. Even the most basic information about the group was pretty hard to come by for years, but now the people at Important Records have brought us this handy box that brings together all the group’s studio recordings. My failure to get my hands on the group’s doubtless classic third album 3 becomes immediately evident – it never existed! The four discs here are entitled 1, 2, 4 and Last Recordings, from 1993, 1994, 1998 and 2005 respectively.

Where Overhang Party differ from their Japanese neo-psych contemporaries is in the breadth of material they produced. Their début album’s “Bass Oscillation” provides a black wall of guitar noise to rival Fushitsusha, but the following tracks shoot off into Acid Mothers Temple spacey cosmic territory… this being several years before that group existed. By the second album, the group were bludgeoning us senseless with High Rise-style heavy riffing, “発熱”/2Le Fièvre” possessing one of rock’s all time top 10 classic riffs, more than the equal of “Smoke on the Water” or “Whole Lotta Love,” but without the macho cock-rock silliness that ruined those two songs.

Four years later and the group had diversified further still, incorporating piano and more rhythmic repetition into their sound on 4, opening track “Kizashi” coming over like some bizarre but effective hybrid of Faust’s “It’s a Rainy Day Sunshine Girl” and “Sloop John B.” Throughout the album, melody holds sway, but not without a few killer doses of noise, such as the one that kicks off the 12 minute epic “Barcelona” – a classic two chord dronathon that evokes both the Velvet Underground and fellow Japanese masters Les Rallizes Dénudés. Closing track “Le Fantôme de la Liberté” rocks the album to a close while channelling Hawkwind and The Stooges.

And that, to date, was the recorded studio legacy of Overhang Party, but Important have dug out a more recent unreleased session that the group recorded in 2005, which provides an intriguing glimpse as to where the group might have been heading next. Following on from 4’s subtler angles, The Last Recordings comprise a handful of lyrical and relaxed psychedelic musings that are every bit the equal of compatriots White Heaven’s inspired reimagining of Quicksilver’s SF acid rock.

Although less fêted than many of the other Japanese psych groups to emerge in the ’90s, this wonderful collection reveals Overhang Party to be perhaps the quintessential group of the era, and perhaps the one that truly sums up the scene most completely. I would certainly recommend this fantastic collection as an ideal place to start if you have any interest in the astonishing music that has come out of Japan during the past 20 years.

-Alan Holmes-

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