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cover art

Karuna Khyal

Alomony 1985

(Phoenix; US: 15 Sep 2009; UK: 7 Sep 2009)

This Japanese obscurity from the 1970s has been something of a fetish item since its release. Subsequently celebrated by purveyors of talismanic treasures of psychedelia like Julian Cope, Alomony 1985 was introduced to Western audiences on a short-run re-release ten years ago by Paradigm records, along with the lone release from potentially connected labelmates Brast Burn. Now, the album is being released in a limited run of 1,000 from Phoenix Records in casing that precisely duplicates the vinyl’s original sleeve, depicting a domed frau projected over half a major metropolitan city on the front and a married set of little people on the back. 

The album art seems to indicate a kind of feminized empowerment derived from divorce and alimony, but the music inside is a phallic, onanistic, and noisy mess. Probably best poised somewhere between the bluesy dirges of Captain Beefheart and the collectivist jammy experimentation of Amon Duul I, and certainly exhibiting the pre-post-punk DIY ethic of those acts, the Karuna Khyal still succeeds in being, like that liberated frau, sui generis and a priori to nothing, particularly impressive since it came from the homogeneous land of Japan. If it were about 50% fuzzier (distortion-wise you can still feel the beards growing off this one), one might mistake the capricious harmonicas and hellish dronescapes for an Acid Mothers Temple plant, suspect to its chronological origins like Bernard Fevre’s Black Devil. With a record with this much occult mystery to it, it has the inevitable potential to disappoint upon actually cracking open the thing. Though the distended focus on several key phrases can be exhaustive at times, the improv disharmony of Karuna Khyal is likely to be welcomed by any psych fan


Timothy Gabriele is a writer who studied English and Film at the University of Massachussetts at Amherst. He currently lives in the New Haven, CT region with his fmaily. His column, The Difference Engine, appears regularly at PopMatters. He can be found twittering @Wildcorrective and blogging at 555 Enterprises.

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