High Rise


Interviews with Asahito Nanjo and Munehiro Narita

We're grateful to Nick Cain, the publisher of the excellent New Zealand magazine Opprobrium, and especially, writer/translator Alan Cummings , for allowing us to reproduce the interviews they did with the members of High Rise. Both of these interviews provide essential insight into the band's history.

Alan's lengthy interview with Asahito Nanjo appears in a truncated form on the inside of the Dispersion CD, and is reproduced in its entirety here.

His translation of an equally in-depth interview with Munehiro Narita appears on the inside of the Disallow CD in edited form, and is reproduced in its entirety here.


Julian Cope's Head Heritage Web Site, September 2000

Unsung Album of the Month: High Rise Live

Brainiacked in Tokyo, summer '91, I staggered Godlike and beautiful off the main drag into a blazing hot park full of rows of Japanese rock bands, all set up in a long line down each side of the main thoroughfare. Sooty shorts, a 'Free Your Mind & Your Ass Will Follow' t-shirt and bare feet - I was still almost a foot taller than those around me and weeded-out from the fine fruits of Rooster and Rizla's international drug-smuggling. The sound that greeted me was an a-rhythmic sonic guitar collage in which each band competed with many others, each just two feet apart, performing for a microscopic audience-on-the-hoof who were all, like me, mesmerized by this not-of-this-world-music. Imagine walking one Sat'day afternoon down Busy High Street UK to discover that every Gap Next Benneton shop front had been replaced with its very own rock band, each one complete with their own stage act, roadies and PA system. For this was the scene that greeted me that afternoon, and this is the sound of Tokyo's mighty High Rise live on stage.
Like watching Manchester's The Worst at Eric's in early 1977, where two band members regularly finished songs before the slowcoach on bass, listening to the musically-superb but shamanically-tendencied High Rise is like watching a magnificent road-movie starring the uninsured and the uninsurable. All three members of High Rise have twelve points on their driving licenses and do they give a fuck? Hell No, and these overachievers have loads of albums and super-mysterious related releases, too. But the way into the High Rise trip just has to be via this live'n'glorious, live'n'uproarious live album.
But what of the songs? And what are their roots? Well, I'll tell you this - they obviously adore Blue Cheer and they love Black Sabbath, but they play faster than both of those Spanish galleons could ever muster. Yeah, High Rise have their down-in-their-boots side but they never stay down long enough to mean it. Instead, High Rise take classic 60s and 70s riffs and do them in, and do them good. One American fanzine (and I can't remember which) brilliantly described the High Rise method as " Spray-painting Obscenities across an Ancient Text." Right ON! From a British point-of-view they have that Junction 8 sound down to a T. You know that part of the West Midlands conurbation where the M5 meets the M6, and the A34 and the A4041 cartwheel over both motorways to create Spaghetti Junction? Well, that junction of roads is the High Rise guitar sound as created by Munehiro Narita's Motor Cycle Guitar (sic sic sic!!!). But searching underneath that overlaying of roads at Junction 8, you'll discover sacred hills such as Barr Beacon, and now-hidden sacred places such as Perry Barr and Great Barr*, linked by Beacon Way and the sacred river Tame.
And this splendid sacred underbelly is like the High Rise rhythm section. For underneath the spray-paint, the ancient texts that the bass and drums play are famous and time-honoured riffola. Yuro Ujiie plays drums on this live album and a mighty job he does, too. But High Rise have had every type of drummer from free jazz to proto-punk and still it all hangs together; because their riffs ride that monochromatic rainbow arcing across the ages from the Sonics and the Troggs, via the Stooges and the Five, and up through punk rock and grunge to the present day.
High Rise Live kicks off with the ancient text-driven riffage of 'Sadame' from their earlier Disallow LP, here smeared with extra-spray painted obscenities for added queaze-o-rama. The vocals are way low in the proceeding, but that's the way their leader Asahito Nanjo loves 'em. Dick Peterson he ain't, but neither does he choose to be. Instead, Nanjo uses his voice to state that 'This-is-a-song' and without those vocals we'd be listening to free rock. So it's a quiet verse and then off on another suicide excursion where no-one dies but classicism takes another one up the ass.
Ultimate High Rise has to be their ultra-rip known as 'Ikon'. First recorded on their Disallow LP, the song takes the amazing riff from the original Electric Prunes' final single 'You've Never Had It Better' and makes it better and better. Indeed, it makes me wanna take 'Ikon' and strip it down further and call it 'Nanjo' and keep the publishing for myself!
'Mira' comes on as frenzied as High Rise's sister group Musica Transonic, and freeforms its muse into your brain with jackhammers, while the God Thor tips up the High Rise stage and tries to physically eject them from the studio. Munehiro Narita falls on his psychedelic ass but he ain't never going to loosen his grip on that Bar-E chord no matter how far up the neck his hands are pushed, until Nanjo finally shakes Thor off and they launch into a joyous rebel yell, like Dust playing the Isley Brothers through the Troggs' equipment, circa 'Feels like a woman'. Right ON!
'Outside Gentiles' is a comparative pop song by High Rise standards, which means it ain't at all, but it's got clear vocals and a perceivable chord sequence. Of course, Munehiro Narita takes this as an insult and uses his solo as a high industrial platform from which to dump skip-loads of thick fluorescent wa-wa paint down on to that ancient text, which stands up to this rigorous treatment because High Rise's muse is entirely built on rock.
The closest we get to the unadulterated Blue Cheer trip comes in the slow stumble of 'Door', Yuro Ujiie's solo drum intro propelling the band into a kind of uber 'Out of Focus' dirge. Is Nanjo singing 'Call Me Animal'? I do hope so! It's my dream that High Rise will one day do a straight cover version of 'Cutting Grass' by the Caretakers of Deception and credit it to themselves, renaming it 'Free Love' or some such iconic Western name.
'Mainliner' follows, though it's not the same song as 'Mainliner Sonic' that the other High Rise sister group, Mainliner, plays on their Mainliner Sonic LP. No, this 'Mainliner' is the live (and much faster) version of the Funhouse-like song which you'll find on their album Dispersion. Confused? I think we're meant to be! But rock'n'roll is mystery and High Rise's scene is surely that. When Dorian and I code our conversation in front of our kids, we speak in Pig Latin and the girls don't even know that it's patois. Teenagers cloak their language to exclude adults, and I find myself making up words that sound like slang to give my songs more bite and enigma. The High Rise scene has vats of this stuff lying unprocessed in their Tokyo and Nagoya basements.
This live album terminates with the ultra-cyclical 'Pop Sicle', with its looping undulating bass and splatter drums, whilst Munehiro Narita plays some kind of guitar equivalent to the 19th century Gatlin gun, you know that antique version of the machine gun which sprayed its bullets so widely that you became a victim of friendly fire unless you were standing behind it! But the High Rise scene is always like that, and there are so many sister bands lurking in the shadows that you've gotta start somewhere, and the live album is it. If you dig this record, try out Disallow for its greater use of space, but all of the Rise canon is a stone gasser, and their offshoot bands are part of a many-tentacled sonic octopus designed to make shamans of us all. For those about to Rise, I salute you!

[* These are named after the same hill divinities who gave their name to Wiltshire's Bronze age Barbury Castle, the stone circles of the Peak District's Barbrook Moor and the various law places known as Temple Bar throughout Britain. Bar was known as 'god, the mighty' according to Gerald Massey's Book of Beginnings and 'the all-powerful' in the ancient Akkadian language. The link between the sacred hill and the speaking of the oral law thereon is still seen today. For lawyers, the bar is still 'anything referred to as an authority or tribunal: the bar of decency', according to the Collins English Dictionary, whilst the barr in Breton means the 'summit, top', or even 'Pre-Celtic 'height'; according to Adrian Room's Placenames of the World.]"-Julian Cope

New York Press March 31, 2000

"It is common pop-culture knowledge that every respectable rock musician either dies or retires prior to his 30th birthday. True, the world should have been spared the geriatric, twilight years of such "seminal"-turned-irrelevant check-cashers as the Stones, the Who, Sabbath, Suicide and Flipper. But a host of groundbreaking freaks have managed to go gray and persevere while keeping cred and integrity intact. So screw "common" knowledge and screw mainstream pop culture along with it. If you dig deep enough, you'll uncover a number of elders who have honed and updated their crafts while refusing to grow cynical, tiresome or lame: Michael Gira, Circle X, the Toiling Midgets, Daevid Allen and dozens of others who, despite their relative obscurity, haven proven that it's possible to mature without mellowing out. Add the middle-aged members of High Rise, a discordant Tokyo-based power trio, to that list. Since the early 80s, bassist/singer Asahito Nanjo, seizure-guitarist Munehiro Narita and various drummers have been exploring the outer limits of chaotic heaviness and roaring velocity. The band is loosely identifiable as psychedelic punk, but their bombastic, distorted rush is smarter and more substantial, full of darkness, corrosion and unstable energy. Every one of their LPs swings like an electrified nutsac.
High Rise base their deceptively simple songs around hallowed, well-worn riffs, over which Narita solos anarchically, as if he were spray-painting obscenities across an ancient text. Their radical diablerie eludes simple classification, possessing a particularly Japanese affinity for information overload, quickness and noise. Yet despite their exotic pedigree and their prolific, confusing side projects, High Rise aren't import-bin anomalies who will appeal only to record collectors. Their wicked snarl is familiar enough to speak to anyone who likes three chords and a 4/4 beat.
Thanks to Squealer Revisited, a subsidiary of Virginia's Squealer Music (SquealerMusic.com), High Rise's most sought-after albums are finally obtainable and affordable. In 1998 and 1999, the label domestically issued the magnum opus High Rise II (1986), the slower follow-up Dispersion (1992), the self-explanatory Live (1994) and the more polished Disallow (1996), all of which originally appeared on Tokyo's PSF Records. Somebody is obviously buying the things; while the sweaty onlookers at Tonic included the expected avant-cognoscenti and hipsters, the audience also swelled with normals who just wanted to have their colons massaged by the wall-shaking vibrations of Nanjo's overdriven basslines and Narita's gurgling wah-wah fuzz. In fact, the evening went down as High Rise's first-ever sold-out performance.
Fortunately, Nanjo, Narita and percussionist Koji Shimura ignored the hoopla and got down to humorless business, tearing through a 45-minute career-spanning set. Barring the guitarist and bassist's matching leather pants and Nanjo's trademark sunglasses, High Rise aren't about poses, fashion or crowd-pleasing. They refuse to address or make eye contact with their fans. Encores are rare. The players look inward for inspiration, coming off as somewhat aloof, but deadly and focused. Onstage, they religiously stretch their material to the breaking point, nailing their verses and choruses while jamming into hyperkinetic infinity on the lengthy freeform sections that make their tunes soar. Call it harmolodic biker rock.
The Tonic date still wasn't adequately deafening, but it was thankfully louder than the group's intense but low-volume Halloween '98 show at the Mercury Lounge. In addition, the recently recruited Shimura's firm, workmanlike hand suits High Rise's dynamic far better than the jazz-flash of his predecessor, the flamboyant Shoji Hano. The sturdier rhythmic foundation calls more attention to the compositions' true essence-Nanjo's big, grumbling melodies and parenthetical vocals, bisected by Narita's phenomenally blurry peals, runs, hammer-ons and solos. High Rise's balance of businesslike nonchalance and frenzied skill should allow them to remain totally fucking mind-blowing until arthritis sets in."-Jordan Mamone

Village Voice March 22 - 28, 2000

Japan's High Rise get called "heavy" for their sheer sonic extremity-some of their records have distorted drums. In truth, though, they teeter on the border between pre-heavy, like the most manic garage-and surf-rock bands, and early-heavy, like Blue Cheer. The power trio's signature style is a high-wire act, with severe psych soloing from guitarist Munehiro Narita precariously balancing on the rhythmic flurries of bassist Asahito Nanjo and whichever temp drummer's sitting in. Heaviness implies being earthbound; when High Rise stretch out on their individual instrumental tangents, the sensation's akin to ear- and vein-popping supersonic flight.
But, unlike last year's blowout at Mercury Lounge, last Tuesday's show at Tonic never left the tarmac. Narita did not disappoint, with withering white-outs of wah and fuzz flying off his fingers as naturally as the big beat once boomed from Bonham's kit. Even on borrowed gear, his command of innumerable sound and tone colors was astonishing; by show's end his effects pedals lay strewn around his amp like so many picked-over bones. Nanjo played lusciously overdriven bass, black-clad and impassive behind sunglasses, at times uttering barely audible vocals. (Since he and fellow countrymen Haino and Guitar Wolf all essay forms of onstage mayhem while dressed in black and wearing shades, shouldn't someone call Faith Popcorn?) The problem lay with drummer Koji Shimura, veteran of White Heaven and the High Rise spinoff Mainliner but no match for the free-jazz madness played by Shoji Hano last tour. For nigh on 20 years, the fortyish Narita and Nanjo haven't lost a step, so it was a shame that the newcomer let things slip. Still, many in the 30-and-up crowd (the combined record collection of whom would no doubt reach the steeple of the Empire State) were ecstatic. The looks on some faces made one recall the time George Foreman retook the heavyweight crown and delighted middle-aged sportswriters everywhere. Kid, sometimes grandpa's gotta grab the wheel." -Jon Fine

Japan Underground, May 1999

"On the Psych Tip this time around, I want to start introducing some of the leaders of Japan's psychedelic assault. And any discussion of the psych "scene" (I dislike that word, and it implies too much, but there it is) must start with Tokyo's legendary P.S.F. Records label. Since its beginnings, P.S.F. has been associated with the avant-garde, whether it be jazz or folk or, to the point here, psychedelia. The label's beginnings lie with the bands High Rise and Fushitsusha. Those bands' leaders, Nanjo Asahito and Keiji Haino respectively, might be considered the two pillars of the psychedelic scene.
High Rise grew out of Asahito's participation in Tokyo's underground in the '70s, during which time he played in a number of obscure rock bands. Dabbling in free improv and psychedelia, he eventually founded High Rise as its bass player, with guitarist Narita (drummers have come and gone a few times, but the two remain the core of High Rise). Taking some inspiration from the MC5 and turning the volume knob up threefold, High Rise take off and rarely come down to Earth. The band's first LP is rightly legendary for both its unstoppable energy and its amazingly low fidelity (the reason why it hasn't been reissued). The fact that the band's rock hits the listener like a tornado despite the low recording quality is a testament to its power. In the fifteen years since, the band hasn't slowed down, and last year they played their first shows outside Japan to the delight of their cult audience over here. Their latest CD, "Desperado", was released by P.S.F., but some of their earlier releases are finally available at domestic prices in the U.S. thanks to Squealer Records.
Asahito's energy doesn't stop with High Rise, however. He's involved in countless other groups, but some of the highlights include Mainliner (aka High Rise II), Ohkami no Jikan, Toho Sara, and Musica Transonic. Musica Transonic are an intriguing blend of free jazz, psychedelia, and the previously unknown. A trio with guitarist Makoto Kawabata and Ruins drummer Tatsuya Yoshida, the group explores some truly mind-bending sounds on their three albums (including one recently with Fushitsusha leader Keiji Haino), all released by P.S.F."-Mason Jones

Minneapolis/St. Paul City Pages Vol. 21, Issue 1005 March 8, 2000

"DESPITE A GROWING cult in the Western press, Japan's High Rise rarely, if ever, pose for proper band photos. Oh, there are plenty of fuzzy action shots, usually taken during the power trio's jet-engine-test-cell-volume live shows. But the faces are always hard to make out, with only the guitars in vague focus--and that ubiquitous foot on the effects pedal. It's a nice visual summary of the group's take on rock's impulse toward "noise and coolness and delinquency," to quote bassist and vocalist Asahito Nanjo (speaking in New Zealand's Opprobrium). You'd never guess it from their album covers, but each band member cuts a figure as a 1960s retro biker rebel in black leather jacket, pinstriped bellbottoms, and sunglasses that NEVER come off. Pretty appropriate for musicians who credit their ax man, Munehiro Narita, with "motorcycle guitar," and sound like a thousand Panheads with loose pipes, gunning their engines into a Marshall stack.
High Rise, who play the Twin Cities for the first time Saturday, have an indie mystique that Jandek or the Flatlanders would happily surrender body parts for. Narita and Nanjo knew each other as teens in the late-Seventies Tokyo punk scene, where pre-hardcore, no wave, and free jazz shared fans and bills, if not styles. It wasn't until 1984 that the friends formed Psychedelic Speed Freaks to meld these influences, changing their name a year later to High Rise (from the J.G. Ballard novel) and releasing their first, self-titled record. For years their music was available in the West only through rare limited editions and pricey reissues from the Japanese psychedelic/improvisation label PSF (named for the band's first incarnation). But last year the Virginia label Squealer (squealermusic.com) re-released much of the band's catalog, including the bracing recent concert document Live, originally recorded in 1994.
Cleaner, louder, and hotter than their studio stuff, Live shows how critical high-volume distortion has become to the band's sound--call it the shadow fourth member, like Echo the drum machine was to the Bunnymen. Narita's long guitar ad libs channel every buzzed-out lick ever recorded--from biker-rock king Davie Allan through the Stooges' Scott Asheton--while Nanjo seems to model his bass throb on Godzilla's late-night tiptoe through a fragile metropolis. Everything else is buried: Nanjo's vocals sound like he's singing through an intercom six feet under. The drummer on the disc, Yuro Ujiie, seems to have stolen his massive toms from that Zep-worshiping kid on Freaks and Geeks and sounds like he's playing them somewhere out in Anoka County. (Koji Shimura mans the kit these days.)
High Rise certainly didn't invent the idea of raw 'n' dirty blues-rock rendered in a broadly improvisational style--they stretch out and swing around riffs that were musty before Cream broke up--but they push the mode to formal extremes. Their numbers usually follow a rough structure: The opening riff and the lyric stay constant from performance to performance. Beyond that, all bets are off.
The band also refuse to categorize themselves as punk or noise, though they claim that the default category of psychedelia is somewhat ironic, given their vehemently anti-drug stance. The lyrics of 1986's High Rise II seem to consist of junkie slang sung in English, supposedly meant as a deterrent. Personally, all I can make out is something about "too many scars, too many scars" on "Induced Depression"--not exactly an explicit directive toward sobriety. Still, according to the hallucinogen-savvy, High Rise is not recommended as the backdrop for your first lysergic experience. Just listening to this music--or seeing it live--is a good way to scare yourself straight."-Cecile Cloutier

Time Out New York March 9-16, 2000 Issue No. 233

"The fact that...High Rise might be the most powerful rock band to ever walk the planet makes this the odds-on rock show of the year. The Japanese trio has its second US appearance, after reducing Mercury Lounge to rubble a couple of Halloweens back with its Stooges-on-hellfire garage fury. They started with frightening power and somehow turned it up a notch with every song. It's honestly one of those bands that words will always fail. Lovers of real rock&roll: Attendance is mandatory."-Mike Wolf

Pop Culture Press Web January 17, 2000

"Originally known as Psychedelic Speed Freaks, High Rise has been stalking their Japanese homeland since the early '80s, recording dozens of albums, cassettes and compilation tracks along the way. A power trio in every sense of the term, guitarist Munehiro Narita, bassist/vocalist Asahito Nanjo and a succession of drummers combine the high energy assault of punk with the improvisational spirit of free jazz and the high-volume melodies of '60s acid rock. The result is a monstrous but deft rock beast that blends the destructive power of Godzilla with the understated grace of a Kabuki dancer. High Rise could share a stage with the Stooges, the Bevis Frond or the Caspar Brotzmann Massaker and be equally at home with any of them.
High Rise II, the trio's second album but first released in the US, is as eardrum-bustingly powerful a statement of purpose as you're likely to hear. Originally released in 1986, the record levels were pushed as high as they could go, creating an album that's loud no matter where you set your volume control. Sounding like Cream as interpreted by Last Exit, the trio takes primal rock 'n' roll riffs and rhythms and pounds the shit out of them. Yuro Ujiie flails away at his kit, Narita slashes at his strings and Nanjo keeps up a constant bass throb while forcefully declaiming his drug slang lyrics (which the band uses as anti-drug statements-"They just say that if you want to take drugs, you're going to have to be prepared to die," says the straightedge Nanjo). Despite the distorted whirl of volume and energy, though, the music never descends into anarchy. Ujiie's drumming inches towards Keith Moon-ish violence but always stays on the beat; Narita's guitar squeals, screams and crunches, but maintains an almost lyrical quality that keeps his overpowering riffage from being so much white noise. Thus roofshaking rockers like "Last Rights," "Turn You Cry" and "Induced Depression" and lumbering beasts like "Monster a Go Go" thunder along memorably, and even the nearly 15-minute "Pop Sicle" never flags-the band may not be virtuosos, but they know good licks when they hear them, and they easily get by on sheer relentlessness. Even if you go no further into the band's catalog, this is an essential piece of teeth-baring guitar rock.
Dispersion (incorrectly identified as High Rise II on the spine), recorded and released six years later, is both a refinement and an expansion of the concept. Again recorded with Ujiie on drums, Nanjo and Narita vary the tempos a bit, slowing down for much of the record, though there's certainly no skimping on power or volume. "Eucharist" is a skyscraper-stomping leviathan of a track, as is "Nuit." "Sadduces Faith" is a massive epic that starts off on a Bo Diddley-esque rumble before segueing into a slower, almost atmospheric coda, reminiscent of Last Exit's more reserved moments. "Sanctuary" is even gentler, laying back on the relentless riffs and squealing solos and emphasizing the nearly pretty melody; it's the closest thing to a ballad they've yet done. As is probably obvious from the titles, the lyrics have dropped drug slang in favor of phrases taken from Western religions; however, since the vocals fight to be heard in the maelstrom of guitar and bass licks, they'd be indecipherable even if they were in English, so the subject matter is open to debate. "Mainliner," though, is a return to the style and themes of old, with a peppy tempo, frenzied guitar solos and a fierce drive. Dispersion closes with the spooky "Deuteronomy," a calm instrumental that undulates like an octopus waiting for prey before dexterously upping the volume and intensity in preparation for a typically howling Narita solo; it ends, as usual, in tears and blood. Having successfully wakened the dead in previous work, High Rise here incorporates dynamics to make themselves even more effective.
Live, as can be gathered from the title, is a fierce, howling live set that draws "Pop Sicle" from II, "Mainliner" and "Outside Gentiles" from Dispersion, "Sadame" and "Ikon" from the then-forthcoming Disallow, and adds two otherwise unreleased pieces, the groovy, brutal "Mira" and the almost bluesy "Door." The performances are incendiary and the sound clear, making this an excellent introduction to the band for neophytes. Drummer Ujiie then left and was replaced on the cans by PILL, a multi-instrumentalist already well-known in Japanese avant-garde circles. The result of this volatile union is the five-song Disallow, which introduces some new ideas, not the least of which are the black metal-influenced cover graphics. Recorded digitally, the sound is more crystalline than ever before; Narita, who admitted in interviews that he prefers analog, compensates by adopting a gnarly, uglier guitar tone. While "Sadame" and "Ikon" continue in the usual hellbent-for-leather High Rise style, "Whirl" and the title track slow the beat down from relentless to crushing, giving the tunes an almost Black Sabbath-like vibe, though with an energy level Ozzy and company have never come close to reaching. The final piece "Grab" starts off with quiet feedback and PILL's cymbal work, with Narita almost lovingly peeling occasional shards of squealing riffage from his instrument. He and PILL turn the intensity of up a notch or two, pull back, surge forward, pull back, stretching taut the wire of tension, while Nanjo provides an undercurrent of random bass throbs. Finally Narita cuts loose with a shredding, frenzied solo, promising an explosion to come-and then the song ends. It's an unexpected moment for a band seemingly locked into angry propulsion and voluminous mayhem, and a fitting note on which to cap the band's newborn American career."-Michael Toland

Time Out New York, No. 162 Oct. 29-Nov. 5, 1998

"Originally known as Psychedelic Speed Freaks, High Rise amplifies and brutalizes trippy '60s punk to near-illogical extremes. The Tokyo trio revels in the genre's bombastic tendencies, navigating the waters of lysergic freedom with thrashing speed and reckless joy. These legendary musicians--who claim to oppose the use of drugs--disregard hippie-era niceties with a distinctly Japanese affinity for information overload and noise. But instead of awkwardly regurgitating an American rock idiom, they radically rewrite the canon while remaining reverent enough to understand the importance of repetition and the occasional slow, bluesy groove. Active since 1982 and signed to the lauded PSF label overseas, High Rise has toyed with its scrawled blueprint over the years. But its car-compacting crush certainly hasn't been tamed by the Blue Cheer-like muskiness of its recent LP's.
Bass player and singer Asahito Nanjo gnaws on one or two infinitely heavy riffs to form the nucleus of High Rise's energy mass. Appropriately named drummer Pill (Ikuro Takahashi or the unstoppable Dr. Euro bashed the kit on earliest efforts) ropes in the fuzztone roar, while neo-guitar hero Munehiro Narita joins his mates in an ecstatic unison charge. When the jamming tension reaches a breaking point, Narita splinters off into Jimi Hendrix/Greg Ginn-style freakouts, though he never lapses into sloppy incomprehensibility. His barely controlled wahwah soloing flares cathartically until the band stamps out the burning embers with its combat boots. The battle between instrumental technique and unhinged electricity is nothing short of thrilling.
Commendable Virginia indie Squealer is in the process of domestically releasing several older High Rise records. The imprint kicks off its campaign this month, with CD and superior vinyl pressings of the band's titanic second album, High Rise II (1986), and its 1992 follow-up, Dispersion. Two later titles, Live and Disallow, should appear by year's end.
As an added bonus, High Rise's first American tour will level the Mercury Lounge on October 31. Forget about those tacky, 'spooky' Halloween shows with the Misfits, Judas Priest and the Tom Tom Club; the heady, mind-expanding blare of High Rise standards such as 'Pop Sickle', 'Hunchback Blues' and 'Mainliner' might really wake the dead."-Jordan N. Mamone.

Opprobrium Issue No. 3, November 1996

"This High Rise album [Disallow] will need no recommending to anyone who has already heard and liked the band. For what it's worth, though, this is as impressive as any other (despite the super stupid Ninja-chrome writing and Carcass-style 'art' on the cover). So for the most part (for four five-minute parts) a selection of change-our-minds-as-we-go punk rock riffs (check out, for instance, the better part of the Electric Prunes' mighty 'You Never Had it Better' as it's driven so fast it shakes itself nearly to pieces under the name 'Ikon') get blown up large through a thick and thunderous magnifying lens of loud fuzz and wah and the real-as-you-like feel of live jamming. What's different (from II and Dispersion, anyway), is that you can hear the drums a little better than usual, and that they sound a little worse than usual (less Stoogely, more hardcore), played this time by one PILL; and there's a longer piece of doodle-to-climax free form stuff at the end which seems a bit of a distraction from what they do best, especially when the CD is only half full. It's generally intenser, though, and closer to the punch of II than anything. They've been boiling down Vincebus Eruptum and No Sleep 'Til Hammersmith with Live Dead and a few Buffalo LP's for over a decade now, and that the tarry goo at the bottom of the pan tastes this good might just make them the heaviest power trio of all time".-Jon Bywater

Village Voice Nov. 3, 1998

"The world's heaviest still-operative psych group, so massively overdriven and so permanently cranked up all the way that their songs sometimes collapse under the weight of it all. Bassist Asahito Nanjo leads a pride of like-minded bands in Japan, but this is his purest statement of intent."-Douglas Wolk

Mole Number 12

Dispersion: "Car crusher drops acid, runs down your street chasing art cars. Captures a guitar-car and treats it like a squeezebox, riffing sparks from raw metal, stomping time with a rear axle. Once you could only hear stuff like this on expensive Japanese pressings (PSF label)-but this reissue brings home the burn, like Godzilla tackling NYC. Bassist also in Mainliner, who gave encred. heavy psych dosage on a Charnel House CD a few yrs back. Insanely unrelenting".-Jeff Bagato
II: "Exists only to turn crunching primal chords into shrapnel-spitting psychedelic guitar solos at maximum overdrive. Aim is total energy, stomping wah and fuzz pedals till they bleed. The only penalty for listening is that you'll surely be stricken with compulsive air guitaring from the get go".-Jeff Bagato

Ptolemaic Terrascope No. 27, Summer 1999

"A classic power trio based around amphetamine-guitar slayer Munehiro Narita and bass/vocalist Asahito Nanjo (plus an ever-revolving carousel of drummers), the band remorselessly amplify high -energy late 60s speed-guitar punk in the Blue Cheer and MC5 mould to almost insane extremes of distortion, the sonic quality of their studio albums sounding little different to the live experience. II was only the second CD released by P.S.F., a 1993 reissue of their second LP (the first, High Rise, remains undigitalised) with two additional titles, the whole thing faithfully recreated by Squealer right down to the Obi strip (the informational paper side-sleeve found on most Japanese CDs), although translated into English for the benefit of the domestic market. Dispersion also includes an interview with Nanjo that originally appeared in Nick Cain's Opprobrium magazine out of New Zealand, (but shortly to relocate to the UK) incidentally, which effectively answers my question at the beginning of this review: the best labels and fanzines work together towards the universal good and aren't constantly leapfrogging one another in a vain attempt to have the final word."-Phil McMullen

Angry Thoreauan #26

Disallow: "A live recording, but not from a live performance, I believe this to be. It is intense. A wall of sound that obliterates but does not discourage, High Rise tear through some 1960's-styled garage punk rhythms that spit psychedelia and melt metal. Brutal, heavy, tasty, spontaneous yet structured and dangerous, this is a recording that finally provides a foundation for all the hype about this Japanese trio."-Rev. Randall Tin-ear

Signal to Noise May/June 1999, Issue #11

"You gotta understand, when these cats came on the stage, the ontological plastique explosion that is now known as the Japanese noise scene had already been pretty well established. Keiji Haino had been doing his thing for a good ten years, Merzbow for three or four, and Hijokaidan came around, mmnhh, somewhere in there; what am I, Alan Cummings? But part of what put people's neck muscles in a bowline about them was their in-public caressing of straight-ahead rock convention. You could hang me by my toenails from the ceiling fan and clean my nose with a corkscrew while a gutted fish repeatedly whispered the word 'psychedelia' in my ear, and I still wouldn't buy it. Nope, it's the same old lifesource: MC5, Stooges, Velvets, a quarter-cup of Crazy Horse (the band, but most likely the beverage as well) all the way back to Bo 'n' Muddy. This is probably the most American-sounding thing to come out of Japan since Pink Lady broke up, though the use of space and silence characteristic of Japanese folk music (and the aforementioned Mr. Haino) does come into play on 'Deuteronomy', the last track on Dispersion. Either that or I'm being a hopeless cultural dilettante with a tarbrush the size of a redwood. The irony this week is that as far from EuroDisney as these cats are, they sound shamelessly retro compared to some of their sweater-chewing countrymen, and one occasionally longs for the rhythm section to join Munehiro Narita on his trip to the solar core instead of hanging back at the antique shop. But as the lights dim, the credits roll, and the 20th century leans over to talk to his sidekick (I keep bringing up the millennium's end like it means something) perhaps it's time to put down the electric cattle prod called dogma and figure that even if they did wander into the wrong locker room commercially (one would figure they'd have more luck with the Guitar Wolf crowd, or old Butthole Surfers fans; there have to be at least three of those left alive, no?) this is some rifty, rooty shnoot. And I mean that, man".-Mike Zimbouski

Minnesota Daily

"In the concentrated world of Japanese noise and noise-rock, one must be prepared to do three things: look/wait for records, plunk down obscene amounts of money and plug ears intermittently. Guitar Wolf and Merzbow (seeming opposites) lurk stateside, but psych-fuzz kings Overhang Party and Cream-not-on-acid rockers High Rise haven't been so lucky. Without fail, a voice in the mind's recesses whimpers while writing out that bank-breaking check: 'Maybe someone will reissue it here. Then I can buy it for 13 bucks.' The record store goons, sensing your defenselessness, only laugh. Long and hard.
Well, touche, import snob-devils. High Rise is USA-AOK now, thanks to Squealer Music. High Rise's live album rocks like the 80s, 90s-hell, like the 70s never happened. The live setting lends itself to overplaying, which in guitarist Munehiro Narita's case, is rarely a bad thing. Fuzzed out guitars (listed as 'Motor Cycle Guitar' in the credits) battle with tommy gun drums creating a sort of middle ground between the 'Wolf and the Party'-the hyper-overdrive of the former and the reverby distance of the latter. It's only slightly ironic that only 1000 pressings will be made, thus facilitating a repeat of that evil cycle again in the near future. In the meantime, run don't walk".-Saiki Difrances

Billboard Dec. 12, 1998

"As any record freak with eclectic tastes knows, certain album-buying tics are the first step to Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Declaration of Independents has the jones as bad as anybody. On one recent occasion, we snapped up a Japanese import copy of Live, a two-CD version of the much-coveted debut by Fushitsusha, the rock trio fronted by noise-guitar maestro Keiji Haino. When we got to the checkout counter, we forked over nearly 40 bucks for this little number.
Cultists know that the most extreme forms of Japanese rock'n'roll come with a heavyweight price tag.
In recent years, American indie labels have shown an interest in licensing and releasing the more accessible varieties of Nipponese rock - garage trash (Teengenerate, Guitar Wolf, the 5, 6, 7, 8's) and neo-pop (Pizzicato Five, Cornelius, Kahimi Karie).
But the most outre and exciting Japanese rock music (derived from the jam-oriented power trios of the late '60's and elevated to the realm of intense art-sound) has remained a pricey imported commodity. And that field has been left in the hands of small importers/distributors such as Somerville, Mass.-based Forced Exposure (whose chief, Jimmy Johnson, championed the music in the early '90's as editor of the now-defunct Forced Exposure magazine).
However, economic salvation may be delivered from the unlikeliest of places. In this case, it arrives from the hamlet of Blacksburg, VA., where indie label Squealer Music has established a new imprint, Squealer Revisited, to reissue a quartet of hard-to-find albums by the monstrous Japanese trio High Rise. The label has just released two concussive studio sets from the late '80's, High Rise II and Dispersion, and early in the new year it will drop two more titles, Live and Disallow.
High Rise comprises guitarist Munehiro Narita, bassist/vocalist Asahito Nanjo, and a revolving cast of drummers. Narita delivers a vocabulary of dirt-clogged power chords and long, nattering solos, while Nanjo often sounds uncannily like Jack Bruce singing in Japanese. While Haino's Fushitsusha favors viscous tempos, High Rise specializes in high-speed blasts of full-tilt overkill. (Hint: the group's original name was Psychedelic Speed Freaks.) Imagine Wayne Kramer fronting Cream, and you have some concept of the band's sound.
Some find this kind of music an acquired taste; we have found it is especially good, at maximum volume, for clearing the head after a tough week at the office.
Kudos to Squealer (which is also issuing the albums on vinyl with handmade jackets) for releasing this challenging music at prices that don't necessitate financing through a home-equity loan."-Chris Morris

Heckler Magazine #40

"Great stoner-pysche rawk from this Japanese power-trio. Take Sabbath Masters of Reality and mix with Creation (60's garage punk). Fans of Mudhoney, Nebula, Hendrix take note."-Jay Onyskin

Feminist Baseball Issue 16

Review of II CD: "Hendrix would have loved High Rise. he would have jammed with them and members of Hawkwind and Gong at some space hippie noise festival in France in '73 or 2004. This is one of the all-time, all IN THE RED distortion overload jamming GUITAR monsters."

Exclaim Magazine June 1999

"Of all the Japanese bands to be embraced by noise freaks worldwide, High Rise was perhaps the most conventional. Led by bassist/vocalist Asahito Nanjo, who later went on to form the jazzier Musica Transonic and Mainliner, this power trio took the adrenaline rush and power of the Stooges laced with the metallic wank of Blue Cheer and the improvised jamming of the MC5 and wrapped them in the dirty stomp of '60's garage rock. It's a formula that has been tried endlessly in punkier forms with '90's groups like the Hellacopters, but none come close to High Rise's biting wall of sound. The centrepiece of High Rise II is Narita's sprawling, blazing solo on the 13-minute 'Pop Sicle', which should leave all air guitarists gasping for breath. The album also contains two unreleased tracks, including a version of 'Induced Depression', originally on their 1985 debut. 1992's Dispersion, the follow-up to High Rise II, is more blues-based, yet more free form and heavier; tracks like 'Nuit' and 'Eucharist' should appeal to Kyuss fans".-Richard Moule


Review of Live-"High Rise combines the frantic, awe-inspiring proto-thrash energy of Blue Cheer and Mudhoney with the power blues stylings of other noted trios as Cream and the Experience (Jimi Hendrix). While High Rise may not boast the virtuoso instrumentalists that Cream and The Experience did, the group still offers the same dynamism and explosive energy. These fuzzed-out jams careen on the edge of total dissolution. High Rise delivers rock that teeters on the edge of calamity. Bassist/singer Asahito Nanjo's vocals immerse in the distortion. The screaming guitar leads and thundering drums combine to make this the most decadent live rock freak-out since the Pink Fairies' Live at the Roundhouse. High Rise's formula of excess is only parody and posturing in the hands of mere mortal musicians."-Tom Schulte

Your Flesh #42

Review of II and Dispersion. "If it's too loud, you're not old enough. This, it seems, was Japan's answer to Blue Cheer, albeit twenty years later-volume, distortion, and wah abuse that puts Vincebus Eruptum to shame. Filthy sounding discs full of endless crunch and hiss, maxi-noodle guitar, and only the scantest of melodic frameworks to hang a song around. Metal at the dirty nadir it always aspired to but was hijacked away from by the Dokkens of the world. Not much to distinguish either disc from the other-it's all volume and distortion and unintelligible Japanese lyrics."-David B. Livingstone

Philadelphia City Paper March 9-16, 2000

"Legends don't necessarily create themselves. Thanks to Virginia's Squealer Records and its reissue campaign, Japanese power trio High Rise has the chance to become heroes. Who can resist loud, acid-drenched psychedelia in the spirit of Blue Cheer? For close to 20 years, the band originally known as Psychedelic Speed Freaks has been making focused and improvisational noise. Bassist/philosopher Asahito Nanjo, mad-riffing guitarist Munehiro Narita and the latest in a long line of drummers are hitting the States for only their second US tour. If you enjoyed the Guitar Wolf attack last year, don't miss this demolition derby, especially with Bardo Pond in the house free to experiment behind their Prairie Dog Flesh facade".-Chris Nosal

Valley Advocate March 9-15, 2000

"Got noise? Loud, brutal noise. The kind of guitar dissonance that makes mothers demand silence at the bolted bedroom doors of kids who can't hear a thing because the stereo maxed out and the guitar riffs are sweet. High Rise is a powerhouse Japanese psych band (originally known as Psychedelic Speed Freaks) with punk riffs that jump, as well as slow grooves and improvisations that match any free jazz group. Its searing Jimi Hendrix-style acid rock jams go way beyond anything engineered by Black Sabbath and Motley Crue. Around since 1982, High Rise is on a rare tour in the US, riding the re-release of its work in America from 1998-99 by Squealer Music.
The trio (guitar, bass, drum), often compared to bands like Cream, Last Exit and Blue Cheer, gets most of its psychedelic fuel from Munehiro Narita's moshing electric guitar grinds. David Sprague of Guitar Magazine says Narita 'sounds like he's playing his instrument with a hand-mixer rather than a pick, but listen between the lines, and Narita turns out to be positively lyrical in his unskeining of surreal, spacious leads...' Asahito Nanjo's vocals and bass play second to Narita's extended guitar jams-and it's not because the lyrics are in Japanese. Nevertheless, the vocal, bass and percussive elements are essential to the music; they fill out High Rise's sound and keep it heavy, but never dull."-Tricia Asklar

The Bob

"High Rise has licensed four of its older records for P.S.F. to Squealer. The ultra high energy Japanese power trio blast out bare-knuckled biker rock with frantic rhythms and guitar solos torn straight out of the tattered Stooges songbook. If you get only one, make it II-it's the most consistent. But Disallow shows them at their most free form and Live includes their most flat-out insane moments."-Bill Meyer

Gajoob's DIY Report #87, 4/7/99

Dispersion: "Now this is music that is meant to be played loud. Distortion flying, drums a-knockin'- This is High Rise. The sound is late sixties blues psychedelic. The basic feel has elements of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Ten Years After, and Eddie Cochran. This does not sound like a modern album. If you had to guess from listening, you would assume it is a 60's San Francisco psychedelic band. But Dispersion is the latest release from one of Japan's underground leaders. The sleeve plugs the disc as "explosive rock music" Cybernetic wah abuse and non-stop intensity." This did not prepare me for the rootsy feel of the album, though. The sound is definitely loose. Emphasis is on the rolling quality of the rhythm and the thunderous electric sounds ripping from the bass and guitar. The vocals are disconnected and ethereal, sounding like another electric instrument. The singing is not the emphasis, only a decoration of the rollicking distortion machine that is High Rise. The fifth track, "Eucharist", has an early Black Sabbath feel. Slow and slithery, like a biker funeral march- menacing. Munehiro Narita rips the solo-, which showers with electric sparks. He is quite obviously the focus of High Rise, and it is with him that this album rises and falls. The seventh track, "Deuteronomy", drips with reverb. The rhythm hitches and staggers its way at a dirge-like pace. It has a feel of dark highway driving with nightmarish imagery. "Deuteronomy" sounds like a reaction to a late night viewing of Twin Peaks or Natural Born Killers."-Phil Simon

Gajoob's DIY Report #88, 5/12/99

II: "Hard core heavy punk metal. Buzz saw guitars squeal, shred and slam everything in sight. I like it, it's even wilder than Greg Ginn's instrumental powerhouse Gone from the mid-eighties. These tunes were indeed recorded in that dark decade by the Japanese trio known as High Rise and are now being reissued on disc in this country. These guys were out on the edge of the wave of heavy hard core punk when the guitars got a lot more crunchy and bands like Black Sabbath could be spoken of as mentors without too much snickering. The vocals, when they occur are buried in the mix, I can't tell you whether they're singing in English, Japanese or something all together different. It's all drenched in reverb too, so the effect is like listening to someone shouting at you from the other end of a subway tunnel while trains roar down the tracks. High Rise rocks with reckless abandon, full speed ahead, damn the torpedoes and all that sort of thing. It's a little on the dark side, but still quite a lot of fun...that is if your idea of fun includes guitars up to 11."-Kevin Slick

ICE January 1999

"Virginia-based Squealer Music, which has issued albums by envelope-pushing soundscapers such as the Ah Club, Tono-Bungay and Spatula, launches its archival arm - dubbed Squealer Revisited - this month. The label's initial salvo, due Dec. 22, will be a pair of hard-to-find discs from manic Japanese hard-psych band High Rise - whose bludgeoning-yet-intricate sound, keyed by guitarist Munehiro Narita, falls between that of Blue Cheer and Last Exit.
'Being able to release these albums is a real thrill, since they've only been intermittently available over here as imports, and even then, the prices were pretty prohibitive', Squealer's Butch Lazorchak tells ICE.
Dispersion, originally released in 1992, is a straight reissue, while 1986's High Rise II adds a pair of previously unissued tracks, 'Monster A-Go-Go' and 'Induced Depression' [this is not accurate. Both of these tracks were 'bonus' tracks on the Japanese CD issue of the album, and Squealer just re-created the artwork from the Japanese CD. They were 'bonuses' from the original P.S.F. vinyl issue of the album.-ed]. The latter album also replaces the original liner notes with a lengthy interview that originally appeared in Opprobrium fanzine. Squealer Revisited plans to re-release another pair of discs from the band, led by the tandem effort of bassist/vocalist Asahito Nanjo and guitarist Narita, in late February or early March.
'We brought the band over to play at the end of October, and we'd like to be able to do that again for the next round of releases, Live and Disallow,' says Lazorchak. 'It's not easy to coordinate their schedules, though, since Narita works as a securities trader, and that doesn't leave much time for touring.'"-David Sprague

Ink Blot Web Zine, 1/99

"The 50 second long 'Cycle Goddess' opens this record with an acrid, smoking roar that brings to mind Davie Allan fronting the Ramones. The energy never lets up; High Rise may be heavy, but they're never sluggish.
Drummer Ujiie batters out primal rhythms and ultra-dense fills under Nanjo's cruelly thrashed bass lines, while Narita grinds out visceral rhythm chords and flailing wah-wah guitar leads that lash the songs with the enthusiasm of a dominatrix who is being paid double time. Nanjo doesn't sing so much as spit out words like an angel dust-stoked prizefighter expectorating his own loose teeth. With titles like 'Wipe Out' and 'Last Rights," good cheer evidently isn't high on his list. But his voice is so bathed in echo that it's hard to tell in what language he's singing, let alone what he's saying.
Nowadays it's hard to find rock music that isn't a sad self-parody; High Rise never come across as a joke because of the deadly, unironic, and wholly self-aware purpose with which they ply their craft. High Rise II is their purest, hardest moment..."-Bill Meyer

Guitar Magazine March 1999

"Once known by the far more evocative handle Psychedelic Speed Freaks (talk about judging a book by its cover!), this Japanese combo may well be the last true power trio-with an emphasis on the first word of that expression. While not nearly as polished as kindred spirits like Cream, High Rise exhibits a similarly jazzy propensity for ensemble soloing leavened with the scuzzy undertones of a particularly medicated Blue Cheer.
High Rise II, which was initially released in 1986, pushes the wild-eyed slashing of guitarist Munehiro Narita to the fore. Sure, sometimes it sounds like he's playing his instrument with a hand-mixer rather than a pick, but listen between the lines, and Narita turns out to be positively lyrical in his unskeining of surreal, spacious leads.....
Dispersion, which dates back to 1993, sees the band in slightly more polished (if no less intense) mode, and while the Robitussin haze that shimmers across the surface of earlier releases is missed, Narita and bassist/vocalist Asahito Nanjo have honed their interplay to the point of telepathy. Nanjo's ethereal voice hangs over the melodies, bobbing and weaving through the feedback waves with a wild bird's grace. Truly untamed beauty."-David Sprague.

Copper Press Issue Number One June 1999

"Although each track has a beginning and an end, where sounds form (more like erupt) and distortion fades, each slab of noise on these two domestic reissues of long-lost Japanese records hits you like the rush of walking into a hot, smoky club as a raucous rock wails away on stage in a euphoric jam. The tracks start with an often familiar guitar riff or idea, but soon deconstruct from the weight of maniacal guitar solos and break into wide-open jams, with the bass and drums keeping a solid, heady rhythm amidst the blaze of glory flaming from the guitarist's amp. No wonder these guys are legendary".-Steve Brydges

All Music Guide Web Site

II: "When High Rise II was recorded in 1986, the power trio still reflected bassist/singer Asahito Nanjo's and guitarist Munehiro Narita's enthusiasm for punk rock. They loved the energy and attitude of punk, as well as the heaviness of Cream, Blue Cheer and Jimi Hendrix. One High Rise II, the overall result is an unorthodox, noisy, dissonant and very inspired fusion of punk, psychedelic rock and late 1960's heavy metal/hard rock. It might be hard to imagine combining the hyper, slam-pit recklessness of the Ramones or the Buzzcocks with the heaviness of psychedelic hard rock, but that's exactly what happens on 'Monster a Go Go', 'Cycle Goddess' and other in-your-face selections. Thankfully, High Rise's risk-taking pays off, and the album's combination of influences are united in a cohesive whole. Another thing that's unusual about High Rise is its production style: Nanjo's vocals are purposefully placed so far down in the mix that Narita's screaming electric guitar drowns them out. Not a typical way to produce, but oddly enough, it works. When High Rise II first came out in Japan in 1986, it was hard to find in either the US or Europe; however, the album finally came out in the US when Squealer reissued it in late 1998."-Alex Henderson
Dispersion: "Originally released in Japan in 1992 and reissued in the US by Squealer in late 1998, Dispersion is an album to acquire only if you like your psychedelic rock and heavy metal with a lot of improvisation, jamming and blowing. If you love hearing Cream and Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsies stretch out on their live recordings, Dispersion would be an excellent purchase. As a rule, Cream would provide its share of radio-friendly singles ('White Room', among others) and save the extended blowing for the stage. But there's nothing radio-friendly about 'Sanctuary', 'Outside Gentiles', 'Eucharist' and other extended performances on this CD (which isn't as punk influenced as earlier efforts like 1986's High Rise II). Extended guitar solos are the rule for High Rise, and Munehiro Narita (whose blistering, metallic distortion and feedback recall Hendrix and Eric Clapton) is such a captivating guitarist that it's a joy to hear him stretch. Obviously, long solos aren't everyone's cup of tea; Dispersion is for listeners who are willing to sit down and hear improvising rockers do their thing."-Alex Henderson

Live: "High Rise's studio albums Disallow, High Rise II and Dispersion are all well worth owning, but if you absolutely had to narrow your High Rise purchases down to a single CD, this live album would be the best choice. Unfortunately, the liner notes don't tell listeners what the venue was or give a recording date. But wherever it was recorded, the Japanese trio is especially powerful, especially heavy and especially freewheeling on this disc (which first came out in Japan in 1994 on P.S.F. and was reissued in the US by Squealer in 1999). This isn't to say that High Rise sounds sounded neutered or inhibited in the studio, only that it is even more forceful than usual on live versions of "Mainliner, " "Outside Gentiles" and "Sadame" as well as "Door, " "Ikon, " "Mira" and "Popsicle." In the studio, Asahito Nanjo's vocals have always been placed way down in the mix, and on stage, they're still purposely overpowered by Munehiro Narita's very prominent lead guitar. That might sound peculiar to some -- you never heard Robert Plant drowned out by Jimmy Page or David Lee Roth drowned out by Eddie Van Halen -- but oddly enough, it's an effect that works for High Rise. As appealing as High Rise's studio albums are, Live is by far its most essential CD."-Alex Henderson

Disallow : "This five song EP for High Rise has about 35 minutes of high energy thrash, and if anything the intensity of their psychedelic mania has risen further from their previous recordings. Electric guitarist Munehiro Narita and electric bass guitarist Asahito Nanjo are joined by a different drummer Pill to continue building on what their influences, primarily Blue Cheer and Silver Apples, created in the late '60s-early '70s. The title track is six minutes of relentless, hard core slashing, nothing subtle, with muffled, indistinguishable vocals, prevalent throughout, and bashing, chaotic drumming from Pill. Narita is more funky and tuneful, Nanjo exploring a yelping vocal line on "Whirl, " while an all out rock assault for "Sadame, " gives fair warning to Ted Nugent to step aside. The wah-wah pedal is Narita's best friend on this, and the 4/4 hard beat thrash of "Ikon." The finale "Grab" is a feedback induced with march drums and hi-hat nine minute anthem, completely improvised. This Japanese power trio plays together like few other hard core or alternative bands. They are faithfully upholding the psychedelic freakazoid tradition of past acid rock groups in a way that, technologically, the founding fathers never had the opportunity or equipment to do."-Michael G. Nastos

Philadelphia City Paper August 1999

"High Rise dwells somewhere between the sonic clobbering of the Boredoms and the hippie wandering of Ghost. Forget that this band named themselves after a J.G. Ballard novel and that their press releases compare them to Blue Cheer and even Cream. Think of them in terms of what they called themselves back in 1982 - Psychedelic Speed Freaks. Imagine Bardo Pond's Gibbons brothers adding amphetamines to their drug cocktails and you've got an idea of this Japanese power trio's sound: thudding drums, chest-crushing bass, and flagrant wah-wah abuse. Noise connoisseurs may have happened upon their original releases in past Drunken Fish records catalogs, but most are expensive and hard to come by. Disallow clocks in under 35 minutes, and, due to clean digital recording, is the more listener-friendly of the two records. "Whirl" and "Disallow" destroy classic rock riffs reminiscent of old Black Sabbath with relentless guitar work. "Ikon," which also appears on Live in a different form, is an all-out assault on the ears. Live is a longer, less accessible recording, but I prefer its dirtier, over-the-top approach. "Pop Sicle," for example, begins at an icy, mid-tempo pace but builds to the same, almost impenetrable clamor. Virginia's Squealer records (whose roster includes such easy listening as Rake, Tono Bungay and Tower Recordings) has begun a new reissue series with these two releases, and we can only hope that everything they find is this worthy of renovation." -Chris Nosal

Scram #9

II: "First American issue of 1986 LP, with unreleased additional tracks. Here the vocal sound reminds me a lot of the Nomads, and again the guitars are fantastic pulsing beasts. Head-banging music of the first order".-Kim Cooper
Dispersion: "I hear a whole lotta Stooges (cf. 'Ann') in these Japanese psych-noisesters' sprawling compositions. Moody, aggressive, yet subtle, with ambitious guitar parts and really tuff drumming. Bassist/singer Asahito Nanjo is a veteran of Rotten Telepathys and Kosokuya, among others".-Kim Cooper

Aiding and Abetting #185, 7/26/99 Live: High Rise was a Japanese three-piece back in the 80s. The band specialized in over-the-top fuzzwork, a more manic version of Cream, if you will. A lot more manic, really. This doesn't sound much at all like Cream, except that it's three musicians works real hard to kick some major ass. The press has high praise for Munehiro Narita's guitar work, and it's all that and then a lot more.
It's hard to judge the recording quality of this set, since the band so liked trafficking in fuzz noise. Narita's work astonishes throughout, though. He's not just fast, but rather expressive as he navigates the wall of distortion he himself is putting up. The seven tracks clock in at more than 47 minutes, so there's plenty of room for exploration. Discordant, ragged and profane (in a musical sense, that is), but brilliant nonetheless. I should note that this and the Disallow album are reissues. I don't do reissues often, but when I've never heard of the band and the stuff is this good, well, something has to give."-Jon Worley

Disallow: "Alright. It's a bit easier to hear High Rise on this studio recording. And, indeed, with some of the extraneous live matter removed, the band does sound a little like Cream. Or, to be honest, more like Black Sabbath. Munehiro Narita's guitar slinging, however, is even more impressive in this context. He's not just crazed, but brilliantly so. A couple songs here are also on the live album. The arrangements are different. Similarities can be heard, but live I'd say High Rise is a completely different band. And better, to my ear. This album is good, and connoisseurs of fine guitar work will prefer the quality of this sound to the live stuff, but I liked the overall lunacy of the live sound more. That's all. Still, I'm knocked out. There's plenty of reasons I didn't know High Rise before. Now, there's no way I can forget."-Jon Worley