Published on May 23rd, 2017 | by The Beige Baron0
The Ikeezumi Legacy: “Tokyo Flashback P.S.F. – Psychedelic Speed Freaks”
Writing the preface for this feature on the final Tokyo Flashback collection to be co-curated by the late Hideo Ikeezumi, founder of Modern Music and the cult P.S.F. Records label, I feel sadness and regret.
My mood is only lightened by a hope this Tokyo Flashback P.S.F. – Psychedelic Speed Freaks 4LP compilation goes on to change the lives of a new generation of music lovers, just as so many of the 230-odd albums in the P.S.F. catalog have done over the past three decades.
I feel sadness at never having met Ikeezumi; sadness at the pain and loss his family and friends are suffering. The regret, perhaps, is selfish. I wish the misconceptions I had about his work could have been cleared up with a conversation at his infamous Tokyo store, and that we had finished our planned interview before illness claimed him.
Like most people, I was first drawn to the P.S.F. catalog by the music—raw, potent, and exhilarating, from cryptic spasms of high-concept improvisation to free-jazz, sparse yet devastating folk, wild psychedelia, and blown-out free-form punk.
But I fell into a trap of thinking the electricity shared by artists who appeared on the label, often called the “P.S.F. sound”, was representative of the Japanese underground as whole, a kind of uniting element. Using the term became lazy shorthand for anything Japanese and difficult to describe.
Using the term became lazy shorthand for anything Japanese and difficult to describe.
Alan Cummings, the Irish academic who penned liner notes for many key P.S.F. albums, cautioned against projecting personal mythologies about Japan onto the local music, and forcing it into categories that don’t exist. The music just is.
And yet, because so many artists who featured in the P.S.F. oeuvre share what I think is a uniquely Japanese atmosphere, it’s difficult to resist the temptation to view them collectively through the same lens.
According to many musicians interviewed for this feature, the artists who appeared on the eight Tokyo Flashback volumes and wider P.S.F. catalog don’t share much in common beyond the fact Ikeezumi loved them. All are fiercely independent and protective of what is very personal work, insisting the music be approached on its own terms, and not colored by the mythology of the label.
“The difficulty was the selection. Over 230 PSF titles exist. How could I choose 22 artists to fit? It was painful work for me.”
Contrary to what I first imagined, P.S.F. Records was never intended to be an archive of the best local underground music (although it was, and further, unearthed previously unheard ’70s material from seminal acts such as Gaseneta, Masayuki Takayanagi, and Keiji Haino).
It wasn’t a library. It was the soundtrack to one man’s life.
Ikeezumi knotted together a great many musical threads in the web of Japanese music; Modern Music a kind of crossroads for musicians drawn to the amazing selection of records on sale and the generous spirit, good humor, and uncanny ear of its proprietor.
What’s most impressive about Ikeezumi is not his prescience for musical greatness, or his vast knowledge of music, or even the fact he was among the first to share the sound of the Japanese underground with the world (with a lot of help from important zines such as Forced Exposure).
It’s that an otherwise ordinary man quit a steady job as a stock purchaser for a record chain and opened his own. Extending a middle finger to commercialism, he filled his shop only with albums he loved. That’s a ballsy move, to choose truth to self over the many securities of social conformity.
“There will never be another like him,” says Munehiro Narita of High Rise, the band’s Psychedelic Speed Freaks giving P.S.F. Records its name as the first-ever album to be released by the label in 1984. “That time has passed, that chapter has closed.”
To assist with Mr. Ikeezumi’s medical bills, Masaki Batoh, formerly of Ghost, began to assemble Tokyo Flashback P.S.F. – Psychedelic Speed Freaks as a tribute to his friend, approaching artists to supply one previously unreleased song.
The records will go on sale May 24, the day after a live event in Tokyo featuring Kim Doo Soo.
Album royalties, and proceeds from the show, are to be donated to the Ikeezumi family.
“The Japanese label DIW/diskunion had decided to reissue Ghost and all of my related works this year,” Batoh explains. “I had this idea to make an appeal record to raise money for Hideo Ikeezumi to help with his treatment costs. The person in charge of DIW was Atsushi Kaneno, who had worked with Hideo for a long time as a distributor. So Atsushi did us a big favor.
“The difficulty was the selection. Over 230 PSF titles exist. How could I choose 22 artists to fit? How could I reject some? It was painful work for me.
“Actually, this project started while Hideo was alive. I discussed with him about selecting the best tracks for this compilation record.
“I insisted on including new artists, for example, Keiko Higuchi, .es, and Niseapolia. I believe they give these records a breath of fresh air.”
When compiling this collection, what thoughts did Batoh have about the music and the time it came from? Is there something there that allowed it not to age?
“I didn’t have any concrete image for making this compilation album; I just was looking for interesting new artists around Mr. Ikeezumi and P.S.F. I’m truly bored with Tokyo underground psychedelic and free music. I haven’t had any close relationship with that world. Ghost has always been far away from that whole scene.
“But on this occasion, it seemed I might be the best person to direct this production because I’ve known most of the old P.S.F. artists since the ’80s. In fact, it was funny. I called Haino-san to join, and then Tori Kudo, Munehiro Narita, and so on.
“As the project director, it was difficult to politely refuse some bands, because I just had too much material to fit. And it was so tough to edit all the tracks, because all of those I approached had sent me long tunes.
“But finally, this lovely album is done. Much of the credit is due to mastering engineer [The Silence, formerly of Ghost] Kazuo Ogino.”
To coincide with Tokyo Flashback P.S.F. – Psychedelic Speed Freaks, we asked label alumni and select international artists (whose work was informed by the early catalog) for thoughts on Ikeezumi, what artists they liked in particular, what they felt was distinctive about the label, and what Ikeezumi’s legacy might be.
石原洋 | You Ishihara [White Heaven / The Stars]
“I met Ikeezumi as a customer of Modern Music, the shop he owned. He was knowledgeable, and talked and laughed a lot, but his eyes were unsmiling.
“I’ve only listened to some of P.S.F.’s early titles, and those that Ikeezumi passed to me recommending I check them out. Releases that have left an impression on me are probably Haino, Mikami, Gaseneta, Michio Kadotani…?
“Ikeezumi said that the name P.S.F. was cool in that it was similar to ESP. He also said he wanted to run a label that, like ESP, spanned many genres, from rock and free jazz to folk and avant garde. I think he carried out that intent to the very end.
“But at the same time, Modern Music was also like a refugee camp, or [Spanish novel] The Southern Thruway, in that when the traffic season is over, everyone scatters off in different directions.
“It served as a place to pause, for a time.”
Oren Ambarchi [Solo / Keiji Haino/Jim O’Rourke/Oren Ambarchi Trio / Nazoranai
“After finishing school in Australia, I went to New York and ended up living there for a while. I would buy as many records as possible and go to as many gigs as I could afford to.
“One show in particular that completely stood out was seeing Keiji Haino solo around 1991. I would not be exaggerating when I say that this show changed the course of my life. I had never experienced anything like it, and as a result I decided to play guitar.
“Soon after, I returned to Australia and came across a lovely guy named Nick Kamvissis, who attended two of my shows. We started chatting and one of the first things he asked me was if I had heard of a musician named Keiji Haino, and was I familiar with the P.S.F. label? This blew my mind as I had only seen Haino a few weeks ago and I’d been trying to track down his releases since then with no luck.
“The next day Nick came over to my place with the Live At The First Year Of Heisei Vol. 1 CD. I have no idea how he got hold of it, as this would’ve been late 1991. He played it to me and my mind was blown. From that point onwards, the two of us would try and track down any P.S.F. titles we could get our hands on.
“We would grab whatever P.S.F. and Alchemy titles they had…”
“Around that time there was an Osaka-based mail-order company called Japan Overseas that we would order from on a weekly basis. We would grab whatever P.S.F. and Alchemy titles they had, plus more obscure titles from other labels we were discovering.
“We became so infatuated with Japanese underground music that we went there in 1993 to play some shows, and one of the first stops in Tokyo was the Modern Music store where we dropped plenty of dough.
“Mr. Ikeezumi was super-knowledgeable and very kind to us. One fond memory was Mr. Ikeezumi giving me a La Monte Young LP for five of my shitty self-released CDs … the guilt, the guilt…
“Since then, I have been fortunate to go to Japan on a yearly basis and was very lucky to spend a lot of time at Modern Music over the years, hanging out with Mr. Ikeezumi for hours each time I visited. There was lots of great conversation, memorable stories, and he turned me onto plenty of music including his favorite enka titles and various indigenous musics of Japan.
There was such a mysterious aura that permeated all the early P.S.F. titles that really captured the zeitgeist of the ’90s Tokyo underground
“He also played me plenty of unreleased music from the mid-’80s, all underground Tokyo shows from his private tape collection.
“There was such a mysterious aura that permeated all the early P.S.F. titles that really captured the zeitgeist of the ’90s Tokyo underground, where free-form rock, acid folk, underground jazz, and avant sounds all collided. There was a particularly unique aesthetic to the label roster, the packaging, and its sound that was extremely appealing to me.
“Artists such as Mikami Kan, Masayuki Takayanagi, and Michio Kadotani were all completely different from one another, yet their raw and utterly personal approach connected them and it made perfect sense that they were all on P.S.F.
“The open spirit of those early PSF releases were a huge influence, they gave me the confidence to be free in my approach to sound.
“Fushitsusha’s Double Live (PSF15/16) was so utterly important for me and many others. It was the traditional guitar/bass/drums rock format turned on its head and for me it is one of the most important and revolutionary documents of rock music ever made.
“Ikeezumi introduced the world to an absolute goldmine of underground sounds that will continue to influence and inspire us for many generations to come. For that alone we must be thankful.”
Damon & Naomi [Damon & Naomi / Galaxie 500]
“Naomi and I first discovered P.S.F. Records through their US distributor, Forced Exposure, in the early 1990s… Jimmy Johnson recommended we listen to Ghost in particular, and indeed we fell in love with their special combination of folk, psych, and the avant-garde.
“We soon figured out a way to meet Ghost, going on a US tour together when we were in the band Magic Hour, and then playing together with them on our very first visit to Japan, in 1995. In fact, those shows with Ghost in Osaka and Tokyo were our first anywhere as “Damon & Naomi,” which had been a studio-only project until that point.
“Also among that first batch of P.S.F. CDs we found at Forced Exposure was the compilation Tokyo Flashback Volume 1, with the amazing image of Modern Music on the cover. “Acid Folk,” said the divider card in the corner, and we thought: we must visit this place! So we also made a point of going to the shop in Tokyo, and that is how we met Ikeezumi-san. He was very kind to us — we really felt like very naive and ignorant listeners, staring wide-eyed at the many records he stocked that we had never before seen. And of course we could not read or speak Japanese. But he was extremely patient with us, and welcoming.
“I remember on that first visit, we talked about our mutual love for Robert Wyatt.
“Naomi and I started exploring more of the P.S.F. catalogue, and soon found great sympathy with two singer-songwriters Izeezumi-san championed: Mikami Kan and Tomokawa Kazuki. On subsequent tours of Japan, and with Izeezumi-san’s help, we eventually got to meet them both — and, in Mikami Kan’s case, even tour together.
“Naomi and I also put a compilation CD together for release outside Japan, on our own label 20-20-20, featuring Mikami Kan and Tomokawa Kazuki alongside two singer-songwriters we had discovered while on tour in Asia: Kim Doo Soo, from South Korea; and the late Fikret Kizilok, from Turkey. We called our compilation International Sad Hits Volume One — because even though we weren’t sure there would ever be a volume two, we loved the form of the title that Izeezumi-san had used for his compilation!
“And one of the greatest rewards of releasing records for us, is that our compilation introduced Kim Doo Soo to Ikeezumi-san and Mikami Kan, who turned out to love his music like we do. As a result, on a recent trip to Japan, Naomi and I got to share a bill with both Kim Doo Soo and Mikami Kan — International Sad Hits come to life!
“They have become friends with one another — and their wives say they now feel like sisters! It was a very beautiful experience for us to see them together.
“Truly, I feel PSF introduced us not only to music through recordings, but to musicians in life. This brings me back to our dear friends in Ghost, including Masaki Batoh, and of course Michio Kurihara with whom we have toured and recorded so much. People we encountered first through Ikeezumi-san’s releases became a very important part of our lives.”
김두수 | Kim Doo Soo [Solo]
“I decided to make my record with P.S.F. because I liked and trusted in the history and trends of P.S.F. And I really liked that small, narrow office.
“P.S.F. Records did not follow commerce and fashion, but maintained the color of PSF only… the truth of music itself.
“I think, maybe, my favorite P.S.F. artist was Mikami Kan.”
Ben Chasny [Six Organs of Admittance / Comets On Fire / The New Bums]
“I discovered P.S.F. through the magazine and distributer Forced Exposure. It may have been the Chris Knox issue. There was a picture of Haino with a review of Fushitsusha [P.S.F. 15/16] that sounded so great I had to have it. Sure enough, it became one of my favorite records of all time.
“Then I became obsessed with the label. I lived in a small town, so my friends and I would drive about six hours to Amoeba Records in Berkeley to buy music and I’d usually stock up on P.S.F. CDs then. I remember coming home with what felt like treasure-troves of CDs.
“However, I never became obsessed with all of the Japanese underground. It was always only P.S.F. that really had me in its grasp. Of course, I explored other things, like Alchemy Records and such, but P.S.F. always seemed to transcend any geographical boundaries.
“I never even really thought of them as a Japanese label per se, just an amazing label that put out amazing records who happened to be Japanese.
“For me it’s hard to say if [the artist roster] shares something in common, because I recognize that they have been presented under the P.S.F. umbrella. Whenever I describe the label to people, I just mention that no matter what they put out—folk, noise, free jazz, rock—it is amazing.
“Trying to examine a common thread now, everything just seemed so grounded in the personal side of each performer. Each release could have only come from that performer at that particular time. Every release seemed to exist so separate from the rest of what was being released in the world.
“For me, Ghost cleared the widest path for my own music. Before I had heard them, I was playing acoustic music on one hand, and more electric and noisier music on the other, but I never put those styles together. After I heard Ghost, I realized it was possible to play acoustic music that was also strange.
“I probably picked up my predilection for singing about the sun from the first Ghost record…”
“They also appealed to my sense of a more animist world view with their songs about mountains and suns. In fact, I probably picked up my predilection, some might say obsession, with singing about the sun from the first Ghost record.
“The start of the first Ghost record, with it’s combined black-hole intro into the lysergic Sun is Tangging and then busting out of the gates with Guru in the Echo was a pretty constant soundtrack for me.
“At the same time, the early High Rise records cleared a path for extreme, blown-out rock.
“Then there was Haino. For me, Haino has a sense of rhythm and space that becomes pure heaviness. The heaviest of all time. I think one could probably study his sense of rhythm for years and still not be able to play it.
“And then there were Kan Mikami and Tomokawa Kazuki. Both of them epitomized what it meant to be a “cool” solo guitar player—pretty much the coolest guys to play so-called ‘folk’ music, ever. So when all those influences got mixed up in my head, I felt energized to make my own music.
“In terms of the label’s legacy? Creating a music label of freedom.”
橋本孝之 | Takayuki Hashimoto [(.es)]
“The owner, Mr. Ikeezumi, heard our live recording and made us an offer. It was a real honor, so of course I immediately agreed.
“Perhaps my favorite P.S.F. artist is Hideo Ikeezumi. He only released what he liked, and never engaged in flattery.
“I loved spending hours in deep conversation with him at Modern Music. There was no other place for that kind of music, and there will probably never be another like it.
“P.S.F. Records was consistent and disregarded commercialism.”
内田静男 | Shizuo Uchida [Hasegawa Shizuo / Le Son de L’os]
“Ikeezumi listened to our music, liked it, and said he wanted to release it. P.S.F. was owner Ikeezumi’s own personal label. As long as he liked something, he would release it, even if it might not sell a single copy. He had peculiar taste.
“It became not rock and modern music, avant-garde, noise, and ’70s J-pop, but rather P.S.F. as a genre in itself.
“That shop was filled with strange treasures. In both a good and bad way, it was a special place.”
福岡林嗣 | Rinji Fukuoka [Overhang Party / Majutsu No Niwa]
“I often dropped by the shop, and P.S.F. Records released many titles by artists I was really interested in.
I think Kawani Hiroshi is my favorite artist the label issued.
“The owner’s taste, outlook, and ear for music was what made it different from other labels.
“This overlaps with what I already said, but having firm ideals and continuously sharing unknown music was what made it unique.”
Alan Cummings | Author & Academic
“I have very vivid memories of the first day I met Hideo Ikeezumi. It was 1990, a typical August day in Tokyo. By typical, I mean blisteringly hot and claustrophobically humid. It was also my first time in Japan. I was a first-year at university, and had spent the previous three months studying in Sapporo as part of my degree.
“In Sapporo, a friend had sent me the latest issue of Forced Exposure and I’d read about a Tokyo-based label called P.S.F. Records. It sounded worth checking out. But back in those pre-internet days, all I had to go on was an address.
“I trekked from where I was staying at a pen-pal’s house in Chiba, far to the east of Tokyo, all the way across town. Without a smartphone or even a map, my best guess was to try to find a station near the address printed in Forced Exposure. The address said Matsubara, and lo and behold, there was a station on the Setagaya line in western Tokyo called Matsubara. Surely the shop must be near there?
“It wasn’t. The nearest station was called Meidaimae, about a mile away, but on a totally different line. Looking on the map today, it’s an easy 20-minute walk, but I must have spent two hours wandering around the suburban maze in the midday August heat of Tokyo, become slightly delirious.
“But finally, just before terminal sunstroke set in, I managed to I find the store up a flight of stairs between an estate agent and a coffee shop. Once I started walking up the stairs, plastered with gig fliers, I knew I was in the right place.
“At the top of the stairs was a door. I opened it and walked into a tiny shop packed to the ceiling with records, CDs, books, magazines, and tapes. I was hit with three sensations at once: visual chaos; blissfully cool air on my skin; and the nerve-heightening rush of psychedelic rock music being played really, really loudly.
“It felt immediately like being taken into some exotic cross between an oasis and a womb. Hermetic, comfortable, stimulating, rich in its own culture and logic.
“Behind the counter, half hidden by towering stacks of vinyl, was a middle-aged man with glasses. Hideo Ikeezumi, I would later learn. I nodded to him as I walked in. He nodded back, as if red-faced, sweat-drenched gaijin were regular visitors to the shop.
There was something about music that was playing—fast, intensely distorted, and hugely exciting…
“I tried to browse as if I had the slightest clue what any of these records were, but I kept getting distracted. There was something about music that was playing—fast, intensely distorted, and hugely exciting.
“It sounded exactly like the review of a band called High Rise in that issue of Forced Exposure my friend had sent me. Nervously, I summoned up some courage and I asked the guy, ‘Is this High Rise?’
“He nodded and asked how I knew about them, and if I wanted a copy of the tape. That simple act of generosity and enthusiasm for music started a wide-ranging conversation that would continue passionately for the next three decades.
“Hideo seemed to have heard everything and had considered, succinct opinions on all of it. For me, just 19 and still mired in the anxiety of taste (can I like this? should I like this? what will people think of me if I tell them I like this?), meeting Hideo opened my ears and opened my mind. It was worth all the sweat and the incipient sunstroke.”
坪内和夫 | Kazuo Tsubouchi [Sundays & Cybele]
“When we make and record an album, I first think about the ideal listener, and for me, that person was Ikeezumi. Because of that, delivering my music to and chatting with him were the most memorable.
“High Rise left a deep impression on me. The way Narita articulates his sustained notes and short choppy parts on the guitar influenced my playing a lot.
“At one point, the way P.S.F. shined a light on musicians that other labels could not release gave it an ESP-like appeal.
“I think his legacy will differ for everyone. For me personally, playing him my music and chatting remains a lasting memory.”
à qui avec Gabriel [Solo / Pneuma Hectopascal]
“Ikeezumi once told me he wanted to record and release a CD of various à qui “songs”, but it unfortunately never became a reality.
“The first P.S.F. release I ever listened to was Nijimu’s Era of Sad Wings.
“Modern Music was a creative hub where interactions with visitors and Ikeezumi could lead to the start of all sorts of things.
“It was a label based upon Ikeezumi’s strong personality and will.”
“I first learned of P.S.F. because I had been introduced to the music of Keiji Haino and Masayuki Takayanagi by Henry Kaiser before P.S.F. existed as a label.
“At that time, Haino had only released Watashi-dake on Pinakotheca, so when P.S.F. started and released CDs of Haino, I immediately started following the label.
“At first I didn’t realize the connection between Modern Music and P.S.F., other than it was the easiest store to find P.S.F. CDs, which were still really hard to find and expensive in America. So I would pick them up when I was in Tokyo. At the time I couldn’t speak Japanese, so it was difficult to communicate with Mr. Ikeezumi.
I don’t feel P.S.F. relates to an abstract idea of a Japanese ‘aesthetic’ … a concept placed over it from a distanced perspective.
“I don’t really feel that P.S.F. relates to an abstract idea of a Japanese ‘aesthetic’, which in all honesty, seems to me to be a concept placed over it from a distanced perspective.
“I think, like a lot of labels, it really came down to the personal aesthetic of Mr. Ikeezumi, and the social interactions he had with the musicians in his circle.
“As for artists released on P.S.F. influencing my own approach to making music, haha, frankly, not at all. I do respect Haino as a rare musician in Japan who has personal aesthetics and defends them. From what I have heard, Takayanagi was also relatively unflinching, maybe to an even more extreme degree.
“The continuing spirit of music lovers that put their money where their mouth is; these people are increasingly rare, especially in Japan. People showing respect for the past and present and showing active support.”
馬頭將器 | Masaki Batoh [Ghost / The Silence]
“I met Ikeezumi in 1985 or 1986. I was working at his friend’s record shop. His friend told me there’s a very strange record shop in Meidai-mae. Modern Music had astonished me with their crazy amount of merchandise stock in a very compact space. I could find any record I wanted to listen to, miraculously.
“Hideo was a generous guy, generally, but was very scathing in his criticism and particular in his taste for music.
“He was first person who evaluated Ghost. When I had him listen to our first demo recording in 1988, he decided to release it at once. He listened to just a few minutes. No one else would release our music. He was the only one that ‘got’ us. But P.S.F. Records was terribly irresponsible when it came to paying guarantees.
He didn’t accept death as big thing. Death was nothing to him.
“Also he’s also been my patient at my acupuncture and oriental medical art clinic. First when he got stomach cancer, and second when he was suffering from ALS for two years.
“But he didn’t accept death as big thing. Death was nothing to him. He told us so often he didn’t care if his daughter or wife died, he won’t feel anything. So he just waited for his death coming silently just like he was waiting for a newspaper in the morning.
“I will always remember those mountains of faxes and CDs around the counter that looked like they could collapse any moment, but didn’t.”
今井和雄 | Kazuo Imai [Takayanagi’s New Directions / East Bionic Symphonia]
“Ikeezumi was the first to make an offer when we were thinking of signing to a label, so we chose to go with PSF.
“In terms of a favorite record, I don’t have one in particular. I can’t identify who is considered a P.S.F. artist.
“All indie labels are pretty much the same, but the owner’s tastes set them apart from each other. So I’d say the owner’s taste is what makes P.S.F. different from other labels.
“We’re talking about Modern Music, the store right? It’s probably the same with P.S.F., but because he released music that other labels weren’t likely to handle, but he thought should be put out, it was not bounded by genre or taste.”
工藤冬里 | Tori Kudo [Ché-SHIZU / Mahar Shalal Hash Baz / Noise]
“Ikeezumi said he wanted to work with us, and we figured that if we released on P.S.F., we’d get at least a little more famous. So we agreed.
“To me, all the artists on P.S.F. all sound the same.
“His approach to mastering was different. I felt not like a musician, but someone belonging to a label. That was probably his major vestige. He really believed in ’60s style one-take recording, but I bet it was also a cost-cutting thing.
“My feeling was that his method of putting a frame around a live recording and releasing it to the world was similar to Aquirax Aida, but it differed in that a frame was not a language. That always subtly alienated musicians, so as a result, the product always left a bad taste in my mouth.
“Sato of Pinakoteka Records was also someone who wanted to put out label releases as his own, but that was limited to artwork.
“Appreciation for Takayanagi, bring back that disciple. I have no words for Takayanagi. If anything, that was part of le symbolique.
“Ikeezumi even went as far as to cover musicians in Folk Yarou’s category, keep those sounds, and before listening, drag out the music of crying types of word-frames with a martial arts link.”
坂本慎太郎 | Shintaro Sakamoto [Solo / Yura Yura Teikoku]
“I’d been shopping for records there since around 1990. I was thrilled when Ikeezumi invited my band, Yura Yura Teikoku, to record for Tokyo Flashback 2 in 1992.
“My impression of Ikeezumi is that he was cheerful, but very clear about his likes and dislikes.
“WHITE HEAVEN, the band formed by You Ishihara and Soichiro Nakamura, who later collaborated with, was a strong influence on me. I was particularly impressed by Michio Kurihara’s guitar work.
“Through G-Modern magazine, I discovered lots of great music I hadn’t heard of before.”
Pirako Kurenai [水晶の舟 / Suishou No Fune]
“I started going to Modern Music to drop off show flyers. Ikeezumi was always frowning as he wordlessly went about doing his work – he seemed like a grouch.
“One day he asked, ‘What kind of music do you play?’ And when I brought my CD there, he immediately listened to it and said, ‘This is great! How about releasing it on the next flashback compilation?’ From then on, we started talking often.
At shows, he had a way of listening that was as if he was gazing at the music
“Ikeezumi loved animals. He also liked people, I think. He was someone clear about his likes and dislikes, and above all else, he genuinely loved music.
“I don’t know anyone who listened to music as seriously as he did. When we were making a CD that would be released via P.S.F., he once said, ‘I’ll listen really carefully, so 45 minutes is the limit. Anything longer will tire me out.’
“At shows, he had a way of listening that was as if he was gazing at the music. ‘If the show is boring, I’ll go home straight away. I mean I’m seriously listening. It almost hurts me physically if it sucks.’
“Not based on means of expression and technical prowess, but in terms of jamming and playing together, musicians whose sound and vibe I felt an affinity with were Jutok Kaneko [Kousokuya], Shizuka, Masayoshi Urabe, Kaiji Haino and Kan Mikami.
“Ikeezumi had a very stoic approach to spreading music that he thought was good across the world. He had a strong spirit that was uncompromising, free-willed and independent.
“Suishou No Fune would regularly host an event called ‘Underground Spirit’, and Ikeezumi really liked the tagline explanation for it: ‘Unlike commercialized music, a concert with pure expression and free spirit’. I think he really hated commercialism.
“As for a legacy, I dare say he left behind original works that have never been on the shelves of Japan’s big record stores. He found all these unrefined, raw gems of the underground. There’s no doubt that he wanted to share with an audience of music lovers that ‘this kind of music exists, too.’”
川島誠 | Makoto Kawashima [Solo]
“From the first time I met Ikeezumi, all I could think about was being released on P.S.F. I resonated with the way Ikeezumi thought about sound, and was constantly guided by him towards natural expression. Probably my favorite P.S.F. artist is would be Masayoshi Urabe.
“I don’t know about other labels, but Ikeezumi trusted his instinct, which was precise and never faltered. That was very evident in P.S.F. releases.
From a piece of music, I was able to feel the natural sense, emotion, and prayer that Ikeezumi often spoke of.
“There is no other place as interesting as Modern Music.”
河端一 | Makoto Kawabata [Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paradiso U.F.O. / Mainliner / Musica Transonic]
“Ikeezumi offered to release my music under P.S.F. Records. At the time, I was in my sixteenth year of doing music, and had never encountered anyone who really understood my music. You could say that Ikeezumi was the first person who did.
“I don’t understand the suggestion of a category of ‘P.S.F. artists’. In terms of releases, it goes without saying that Ikeezumi’s personal opinion was the only consideration. Sales promotion was almost nonexistent. While he would be happy if it sold well, he would still give his honest opinion.
“P.S.F. was terrible at paying guarantees, but I guess it couldn’t be helped.
“It goes without saying that Modern Music had an excellent inventory. The shop space was tiny compared to how much was stocked in there.
“Downstairs coffee shop.”
忘八門土 | Mondo Bohachi [Aural Fit / S.a.r.o.d.]
“Initially, I didn’t know anyone at Modern Music. When we made Aural Fit’s first self-produced CD, Lewis Inage, who was a member at the time, knew someone and took our sample there.
“Later, we got a request for five of our samples and were invited to be on Tokyo Flashback 5. It seems like our five samples were used for promotion to a dealer who mainly dealt with overseas artists. We got quite a lot of overseas inquiries after that.
“I hardly talked to Ikeezumi about music. All we talked about was pro wrestling and gambling. We chatted about the Inoki vs. Willie Williams match.
“My impression of Ikeezumi? I saw him as someone who was Japanese [by nationality], but didn’t think of himself as a Japanese citizen.
“Taking Ikeezumi as a given, someone especially impressive was Okada, a staff member at Modern Music. He was philosophical, or rather, there was something about the way he didn’t care about the way society was. He was a big influence on me doing music.
“The legacy of P.S.F. is Ikeezumi’s radar, since what fit his taste would be packaged and sold. I’m proud of the fact that he sold my music. This is totally my own interpretation, but, if you asked him, he would probably say, ‘I don’t think about that kind of thing.’
“To me, though, his philosophy would be Neo-Anarchism.”
スズキジュンゾ | Junzo Suzuki [Miminokoto / 20 Guilders / Solo]
“When I first visited the shop in around 1995 or 1996, I was very surprised at how much stuff was in there. That disorganized mix of things made me feel strangely nostalgic.
“A few years later, I got into garage, and a guy called Okada who worked there at the time was very helpful. I remember being surprised about Ikeezumi’s appearance, since P.S.F./Modern Music had a long hair and all-black image.
“About the music the label released, I’m sure I’ve been influenced to some extent, but Kaneko from Kousokuya’s solo project was very memorable. At the time, Kaneko would introduce young people to Ikeezumi. It seems he was recommending me, which is why, now that I come to think of it, he was telling me to drop by the store more often. I remember telling him, ‘If I go, I will end up buying lots of records!’ and he’d respond laughing with, ‘You must resist!’
“Favorite artists? Oh, just off the top of my head, Haino, High Rise, White Heaven, Che-SHIZU, Matsuya, Mikami, Tomokawa, and Takayanagi.
“Even though it had its good and bad points, to me, P.S.F is Tokyo Flashback 1 through Tokyo Flashback 3. ‘Psychedelic sense’, an expression Ikeezumi often used, left a strong impression on me. It wasn’t a simplistic way to differentiate genres, but some kind of strict criteria for music.”
川口雅巳 | Masami Kawaguchi [New Rock Syndicate / The Hardy Rocks / Broom Dusters]
“The first time I went to Modern Music, it was a small shop overflowing with records, CDs, books and cassettes. Seemingly buried under all of that was Ikeezumi in the middle of the counter. At first, he was scary, and I couldn’t bring myself to talk to him.
“I was not just influenced [by the P.S.F. catalog], but had my mind blown by Haino’s Affection, Fushitsusha’s first album, High Rise’s second album, White Heaven’s first album, Mikami’s I’m The Only One Around Here [Boku Ga Iru] and Jo-you, as well as Tomokawa’s Fault of Flowers.
“Of P.S.F.’s catalog, I prefer rock and singing music like the ones I mentioned over experimental music. The way it treated such artists the same as experimental music is what makes P.S.F. unique. It changed the way musicians and listeners around the world perceived music.
“It is truly an honor to have my music is a part of the treasures Ikeezumi left behind over the course of his life.”
Tokyo Flashback P.S.F. – Psychedelic Speed Freaks [SUPER FUJI DISCS, FJSP271] is out May 24, 2017 on the DIW/diskunion label in Japan on 2CD. International orders available via CDJapan. International publishing by Black Editions. A 4LP release is due in autumn. Proceeds to the Ikeezumi family.
— Story by Phil Kaberry with translation by Laura Chan and Kyan. Grateful thanks to Junzo, Narita, Batoh, and John for assistance with this feature.