It’s a funkadelic boogie showtime! Shakin’ down in the vaults for nigh on 16 years would test the mettle of even the hardiest of tunes, for being bereft of sunlight and outside company does peculiar things to wildly free minds. But with just one listen to the jams kicking down these solid doors it is clear they’ve been the soundtrack to their own eclectic shindig as carefree and as out of their minds as before those same doors were bolted shut. Who the hell knows just what kind of kaleidoscopic and epileptic light shows jived to the crazed, tripped-out ideas birthed from Tatsu Mikami’s warped brain, waiting to ensnare any passers-by in their mind-bending exhibition! Now that these tunes have finally been let loose unto an unsuspecting public, they are free to join their brethren in Sonic Flower and morphing the mundanity of any night into one scorching psych-fuelled freakout as they Ride Again! Sonic Flower are back baby!
Yep, straight from the mind behind a discography rampaging with a crazy cast of serial killing cats, Sonic Flower has been resurrected to once again summon your inner Flower Travellin’ Band-lovin’ hippy to congregate on the inner-city lawns alongside a myriad of other acidheads. Posing as much of a threat to your sobriety as such a congregation would to blue-collar society, both Sonic Flower (originally released in Japan back in 2003 on Leafhound Records) and Rides Again screech down the roads with nary a care for public health and safety, propelling every pedestrian and motorist in sight into a bombastic frenzy, their humdrum attire replaced with the swankiest threads this side of ’67, their hair hanging and swishing halfway down their bodies. A double-whammy of raw improvisational blues (think Church of Misery without the doom and murder), these two records kick out the jams with tremendous gusto and exemplary dynamism, with everybody feeding off the energy from everyone else – especially Arisa and Takenori Hoshi seemingly sifting through each other’s brains for the next twist and turn – as one telekinetic, symbiotic organism. Their racket is an almighty, thunderous affair and laced with enough funk to keep the party goin’ long into the night; given how things are lookin’ the world over right now, this is precisely what the doctor ordered!
Out of the two releases it is the debut which this applies the most. Sure there’s so much swagger rushing through Rides Again‘s veins, spilling out as some groovy Kool-Aid infused syrup where the likes of ‘Super Witch’ and ‘Quicksand Planet’ pack a deliriously low-end punch to the brain – and where drummer Keisuke Fukawa goes full loco on stand-out ‘Jungle Cruise’ – but the relentless, almost merciless looseness and (albeit slightly more) abrasive production of Sonic Flower fumigates the room with far more intoxicating frequencies. There’s this untameable ferocity brimming out of ‘Cosmic Highway’ and ‘Astroqueen’ they border on being downright menacing, infiltrating your body with a crazed look in your eye and leaving you in a in a state of feral bewilderment. ‘Black Sunshine’ and ‘Sonic Flower’, while no less wild and caustic, are dominated by sublime motifs and licks Arisa and Hoshi simply eject from themselves with unbridled cohesion, much like the jazz and blues from time immemorial. And though it is a slightly more reigned-in record than its predecessor Rides Again is a no less spirited affair, one that vibes more from rolling heavier hits for an even thicker haze.
No discussion over these records would be complete without a mention of the cover tracks, and though all three do the original a swell amount of justice, it is the debut’s Don Nix-written ‘Going Down’ and The Meters’ ‘Stay Away’ from the sophomore effort which prove to be far more captivating, harnessing their raucous and turbulent natures and inflecting upon them a nonconformist brashness that could only fit in with the rest of these rabble-rousing tunes. With news Mikami has expanded Sonic Flower’s arsenal of mind-altering boogie heaviness even further, there’s no telling how vast sprawling these freak-outs will become. Until that time comes, best come and join in the shindig while its in its newfound infancy – the night’s only goin’ to get crazier the second you push play!