Release Date: Feb 28, 2012
Record label: Drag City
Genre(s): Avant-Garde, Alternative/Indie Rock, Experimental Electronic, International, Computer Music, Japanese Traditions
Brain Pulse Music, by Masaki Batoh (leader of Japan's experimental rock band Ghost), is more than likely the most enigmatic recording you will hear in 2012. Batoh runs his own acupuncture clinic in Tokyo. He has long researched ways of making music with "extracted brain waves," and commissioned a company to develop a machine to do exactly that: he wears a special headset connected to a motherboard, which records waves from the brain's parietal and frontal lobes.
In his awesome Electric Eden, Rob Young writes: “In an age of rapid and unstoppable change, nostalgia and revivalism often flourish: they offer the solace of permanence and stability in a world whose certainties seem to be slipping away. ” It’s a seductive statement, and Brain Pulse Music — framed by its creator as an elegy for the victims of the 3/11 catastrophe — provides us with more evidence of its verisimilitude. If, as The Economist argues, the real price of the damage wrought by the triple threat tsunami - earthquake - meltdown is political rather than economical in character, then what Batoh offers us here is a snapshot of a despondent, acousmatic psychogeography — a grief-stricken poetics wherein the blank nirvana-impulse of the Shinto rite of chinkonsai jars against the bleeding-edge caterwaul of his BPM machine.
As the founder of Japanese psych legends Ghost, Masaki Batoh is best known for a blend of moody, atmospheric acid rock, dreamy folk, and experimental weirdness, both as the leader of the aforementioned band and on his infrequent solo outings. But while there's an undeniable touch of experimental weirdness to be found on his solo effort, Brain Pulse Music, it's still an album that stands a good distance apart from most of Batoh's output. Part of the reason for the album's uniqueness might be the fact that it was inspired by unprecedented circumstances, namely the disastrous Japan earthquake of 2011, and all the destruction it entailed.
If you've ever wondered what qualifies as "out there" for a psych-prog OG who spent the last 20 years leading a band of itinerant, like-minded freaks, this album is your answer. Brain Pulse Music, on which Ghost ringleader Masaki Batoh realizes a long-held dream to control music via brain waves, offers two such compositions amidst several improvised pieces featuring traditional Japanese instruments. Recorded over two days after the March 2011 Japanese earthquake interrupted initial recording sessions, BPM is dedicated to the victims of that earthquake, with proceeds from sales benefiting the Japanese Red Cross.
Things don't always turn out the way we want them to, but that can push us in creative new directions. Case in point, acupuncturist Masaki Batoh had planned on creating a highly experimental album entirely from the sounds of brainwaves. However, during construction, the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 occurred. Many lives were lost or irrevocably altered and, thanks to the subsequent power loss and radioactive contamination, Batoh was forced to leave Tokyo.