Earthless’s Guide to Japanese Psych Rock

Mike Eginton on the music that inspired Night Parade of One Hundred Demons.

Earthless is a psych rock supergroup featuring members of The Black Crowes, Hot Snakes, OFF!, and Rocket From the Crypt. Their latest album, Night Parade of One Hundred Demons, is out today on Nuclear Blast. The album was inspired by Japanese folklore — it’s titled after the English translation of Hyakki Yagyō, an ancient Japanese legend — and Japanese psych rock, so to celebrate its release, bassist Mike Eginton put together a playlist of the music that shaped it.
— Annie Fell, Editor-in-chief, Talkhouse Music

Brast Burn — “Debon Part 1 and Part 2”

A singular track broken into passages spanning two sides of a record. Brings to mind early Krautrock icons Can during their minimalist mid-’70s work, with Amon Duul communal chanting set over very primitive synthesizers and effects, all propelled by hypnotic, reverbed-out singular tribal-like drums and percussion.

High Rise — “Disallow” 

Title track from the Psychedelic Speed Freaks’ fifth album. Complete guitar freakout madness held together with a heavy groove, seasoned with soft vocals. An amazing blend of sounds. This band was fucking essential in the evolution of psychedelic rock in my opinion. They formed in the early ‘80s when the Birds neo-psychedelia was taking hold. High Rise were black sheep in their scene, way ahead of their time.

Flower Travellin Band — “Hiroshima” (from Make-Up live album)

Heavy, heavy, heavy. From the music to the topic. Huge Sabbathian riffs set the mood for the post WWII “children of the mushroom” tale of a post-apocalyptic reality. Taking up a whole side of a record, this live version was and has been a source of inspiration for Earthless for the past 20 years. 

J.A. Seazer — fourth song on side one from a live recording from 1973 at Tokyo’s Nippon Seinenkan Hall (all titles and credits are in Kanji) 

Kabuki theater meets psychedelic doom with wailing vocals and chanting. 

Tokyo Kid Brothers — fifth song on side one from the album Throw Away the Books, We’re Going Out in the Streets (all titles and credits in Kanji) 

This was a live production of a play; this “band’s” main work was comprised of live productions similar to this. This particular song has dark riffs with frantic chatter that turn into a swirling fury of psychedelic guitars by Hideki Ishima of Flower Travellin Band fame. Fantastic sonic example of tension and release. 

Flied Egg — “Burning Fever”

The guitar and bass interplay on the solo in this track is killer. Really cool band. Just straight ahead heavy rock. 

Blues Creation — “Just I Was Born” 

Blues Creation had a very important role in Earthless’ forming. The Demon & Eleven Children record, along with Flower Travellin Band’s Satori, were the main inspirations for one of the riffs on our new record, that we originally wrote close to 20 years ago and never recorded until now. Why? I don’t know. The interplay between the manic jamming in the beginning and the heaviness of the verse is perfect on “Just I Was Born.” 

Shinki Chen — “Gloomy Reflections”

One of those Super Session records that became an absolute classic. The whole record is amazing and pretty heavy. We used to joke that the drums even had fuzz on them. The bass and organ interplay on this song is excellent. Super brooding and moody. 

3/3 — “Always”

From the Sanbun No San recording from 1975. Lost in a time between the post psychedelic heavy rock and the dawn of punk, this band had a very cool lo-fi Stooges proto-metal sound. This track is just relentless.