"The seminal psych guitarist" � Pitchfork
"Some of the coolest trance-inducing musicians are living in Japan . . . and Mr. Kurihara [is] the scene's Jimmy Page." � New York Times.
"The premier guitarist of the Japanese underground psychedelic movement" � All Music Guide
"One of the most gratifying and exciting musical events of the last fifteen years has been the growing awareness in the West of Japan's deep seams of underground psychedelic groups. We now have a fuller grasp of the roots and history of this music in Japan, going back to the Group Sounds boom of the late sixties. But at the tail end of the eighties, it seemed as though groups like High Rise, Ghost, Fushitsusha, and White Heaven had sprung fully-formed from some unknown dimension, hyper-charged with Marshall stacks and fuzz pedals, mainlining a non-ironic devotion to the giants of sixties psychedelic rock. For those of us investigating the music at the time, each new delivery from Japan seemed to bring a limitless supply of impeccable records."
"Amongst these groups, White Heaven, with their magical blend of West Coast stoned cool and iced-out NY punk ire, were the most immediately accessible. You Ishihara's deep, naive vocals formed a perfect counterpoint to some incendiary guitar slinging courtesy of a guitarist called Michio Kurihara. Kurihara's presence seemed to kick any track into the stratosphere, with a sure grasp of tension and song-dynamics that recalled the great Cipollina at his best. Silkily smooth lines or rough-edged fuzz attack, all seemed to come equally easily to Kurihara. It was obvious that here was a very special guitarist indeed." - Alan Cummings
October 2, 1995
1. Out 6:18
2. Midsummer Stroll 6:10
3. Silver Current > Snow 11:38
4. Fallin' Stars End 9:11
5. My Cold Dimention 3:59
6. Mandrax Town 12:55
? > Trade CD-R > EAC > Wavs > FLAC Front End > FLACs
Personnel, probably: You Ishihara (vo), Michio Kurihara (guitars), Ken Ishihara (drums), Soichiro Nakamura (guitars), Koji Shimura (bass)
From the intro to the interview published in Ptolemaic Terrascope #31:
... White Heaven, with their magical blend of West Coast stoned cool and iced-out NY punk ire, were the most immediately accessible. You Ishihara's deep, naive vocals formed a perfect counterpoint to some incendiary guitar slinging courtesy of a guitarist called Michio Kurihara. Kurihara's presence seemed to kick any track into the stratosphere, with a sure grasp of tension and song-dynamics that recalled the great Cipollina at his best. Silkily smooth lines or rough-edged fuzz attack, all seemed to come equally easily to Kurihara.
Michio Kurihara, from the interview printed in the same issue:
PT: When did you develop your guitar style? You have often been compared to John Cipollina from Quicksilver; when did you first hear his playing?
MK: My current guitar style is something which kind of developed naturally. So there's no point I can say that this is when it began. The first time I heard Cipollina's guitar was on Quicksilver's second album, Happy Trails, which I think I bought when I was twenty. The first couple of times I heard it, it didn't make much of an impression on me, but then the more I listened to it the more I began to see how amazing he was. Then I went out and bought Quicksilver's first album, and that just totally knocked me out. Just the beauty and the sexuality of his guitar, and his use of space and timing, they're all superlative. He's one guitarist who is truly worthy of respect. I think that my current style is made up of elements from Cipollina and all the other great guitarists of the past which I have naturally absorbed and digested. But either way, I think that my playing is still developing. I want to keep on applying myself and studying so that I can play better, get better sounds out of the guitar.
PT: What's your main guitar at the moment?
MK: At the moment, the one I use most is a 1968 Gibson SG Standard. I bought it in 1991, at a guitar shop in Kunitachi [a western suburb of Tokyo]. Just one look at it and one listen to it had me hooked. Going right back to my second year of high school, I have mostly always played SGs. This is a bit off the topic, but Cipollina plays the same Gibson SG Standard, but his seems to be a very heavily modified early sixties model. I know, because last year I went to have a look at his guitar in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland.
PT: You've played on a couple of records with ha-za-ma. Who leads that band?
MK: Roku is the leader. Then I suppose that Kaoru Onuma (drums) is like the sub-leader. The group started in 1988 when I first jammed with a group that Roku and Onuma had back then, Dragon. Almost simultaneously the other members of Dragon quit, so we changed the name to ha-za-ma and started playing some gigs, just jamming and improvising. The original idea of the group was to be a session unit with an open policy so that anyone could leave or join. Recently the line-up has become fixed, and it's a shame that we lost the energy that we used to have. But at the same time, sometimes there are moments where we naturally drift into an amazing ensemble thing that can take your breath away. It's a strange group. Roku used to be an artist type, making stained glass and stuff like that. Now he runs a club for Deadheads and hippies called Yukotopia in Umejima in Adachi-ku [in northern Tokyo. The club was the venue for the Mike Wilhelm gigs documented on the "Live in Tokyo" disk]. He also owns some land in Hawaii, so he's only in Japan for six months of the year usually. It looks like he's going to turn into a hippie himself.
PT: Do you see any difference between your role in say Ghost or ha-za-ma, and your role in White Heaven or Stars? Are you more like a sideman in some of your groups?
MK: I have never devoted a lot of thought to my role in each group. My basic approach to producing sounds is the same in every group. Though I suppose you could say that in White Heaven and Stars my sound is more to do with creating the framework of the songs, whereas in Ghost or ha-za-ma it's more often, comparatively, to do with creating a background or adding tonal colour. But of course this varies quite a bit depending on the stage of the group's development and the particular song. In terms of synaesthesia, you could say that White Heaven and Stars have a monochrome sound palette (albeit like really intense daylight), and Ghost and ha-za-ma have a more colourful sound.
Also, each group has its own unique direction and tendencies. For example, in White Heaven a sense of tension has more important to us than creating a perfect ensemble, and we tended to pursue certain sounds very stoically. In Ghost though, Batoh has his own unique sound aesthetic, and so we tend to concentrate more on creating a polished ensemble. Ha-za-ma was the freest out of these three, more like a laboratory for sound. So I have to adjust my playing to make it suitable for the direction of each group. But in reality, when playing in a group we are all touched by the other member's sounds and via a natural process like chemical reaction, our own sounds alter and change. This, for me, is the most enjoyable part of playing with so many different groups.
For more information about Michio Kurihara, including a link to the full version of the interview, see the Michio Kurihara Discography section of http://michaelcross.me.uk
For more information about White Heaven etc, see Takeya Sekiguchi's Electric Cool Acid site at http://music.geocities.jp/electric_cool_acid/
NB The 2 Ha-Za-Ma CD's are still listed as available on the Captain Trip label's web site http://www.captaintrip.co.jp.
The 3 releases by The Stars, You Ishihara's 'Passivite', White Heaven's 'Out', 'Rainbow' and 'Cloud CVhamber' by Boris with Michio Kurihara, Ai Aso's 'Chamomile Pool' CD and 'The Chamomile Pool Show' DVD are currently available from Pedal Records (http://www1.odn.ne.jp/pedalrecords/) and their distributors.
Michio Kurihara's 'Sunset Notes' is still available on Damon & Naomi's 20-20-20 label at http://www.20-20-20.com, as are Damon and Naomi's 'Within These Walls' and 'The Earth is Blue'.
The debut album by Ensemble Pearl (Atsuo, William Herzog, Michio Kurihara and Stephen O�Malley) is being released March 19, 2013 on CD & 2LP by Drag City, and 2CD on Daymare. See http://www.dragcity.com/products/ensemble-pearl for samples.