Chakra


A Japanese rock band from the early 80s that, at first blush, looks like little more than a standard-issue new wave outfit, but that you'll quickly find is transcendent, particularly for someone like me who is forever questing for more top-shelf Japanese action, delving deeper into the crates of the Japanese underground, left-field, fringe, alternative scenes.

The debut LP, which appeared in 1980, is a little Plastics zany bite and a little YMO pentatonic alchemy crossbred with everything from Frippian guitar nebulousness to the synth-led prog that acts like Todd Rundgren's Utopia peddled. Phenomenal.



The second full-length is, at times, glossier and cleaner, but it's interspersed with these moments of madness and enigmaticness, thanks in large part to the free-flowing, weaving vocal technique of frontwoman Mishio Ogawa (小川美潮), who was simultaneously in a more avant-garde and abstruse outfit called Wha-ha-ha. She brings a childlike spontaneity and spunk to instrumentals, which, even at their most unorthodox and angular, are mint-condition pristine.



All three long-players are befuddling yet inventive, captivating, rides that slap you into a euphoria that is rare.

They split up and Ogawa went on to do some solo stuff, though, frankly, I find it all a little exhausting because it either insists on being straightforwardly vanilla or cloyingly difficult. She sweeps me off my feet when she's embedded in a band, but alone... uncut, she's cumbersome or sedated.

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