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MASAYUKI TAKAYANAGI, KAORU ABE Kaitaiteki Kokan (Kaitai Teki Kokan)

Premiere: 1970 | Sound Creators Inc. SCi - 10101
Reissue: 2018 | Craftman Records CMRS-0013

Format: UHQCD, mini-LP


s it seems, every music genre and each trend within it and, on the other hand, every national discography have their “rarities” – rare and special, often simply “cult” albums.

cult «liked very much by a particular group of people»

The word “cult” is a shortcut that points out to the timeless and exceptional status of what it refers to. When it comes to albums, it is most often related to rarities, such as the Kaitaiteki Kokan (sometimes also spelt as Kaitai Teki Kokan) album that is being reviewed here, recorded by the Masayuki Takayanagi & Kaoru Abe duo. The title is translated as Deconstructed Exchange in the USA. It refers both to music and the situation on stage when two musicians exchange ideas and “deconstruct” them on an ongoing basis.

Its exceptional status is reflected both on the material and emotional level. The album was released in 1970 in Japan, in only, as it is said, 100 copies. It is one of the rarest albums and is very seldom offered on auctions. The last transaction ended at the price of 4000 American dollars.

The status of this album as a form of artistic expression is equally important. It is because this is one of the most radical demonstrations of jazz music in the improvised free or free jazz form. The free jazz trend originated in the 1960s in the USA. Ornette Coleman is regarded to have been its creator while the name was coined on the basis of his album Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation released on December 21st 1960. It is music which relies on collective improvisation (Charles Mingus), modal experiments (John Coltrane), etc.

The most important musicians representing the trend are, among others: Don Cherry, Archie Shepp, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Peter Brötzmann and Theo Jörgensmann. In Poland, a representative of this trend was Tomasz Stańko.


The album was recorded by two free jazz Japanese musicians: Masayuki Takayanagi (高柳昌行) – electric guitar and Abe Kaoru (阿部薫) – saxophone. The album was recorded live, i.e. in one take on June 28th 1970 at the Kōsei Nenkin Kaikan concert hall in the city of Shinjuku. Masayuki Takayanagi was the record producer, and Kozuo Kenmochi was the sound engineer. Apart from the saxophone, Abe Kaoru also played the bass clarinet and harmonica here.

MASAYUKI TAKAYANAGI was born on December 22nd 1932 in Tokyo and appeared on professional stage in 1951. He set up his first of many groups called New Direction in 1954. From then on, he was the key member in almost any avant-garde music group in Japan. Outside Japan, he is known mainly thanks to the album New Century Music Institute ‎– Ginparis Session = 銀巴里セッション (TBM CD 1809) from the year 1963, released by Three Blind Mice.

At the end of his life he devoted himself to “Action Direct” which consisted in playing music with the use of a system that consisted of a “tabletop guitar”, tape and electronics, creating something that he himself called “pure noise”. He lived on cultural peripheries and was not considered to be an important musician by journalists in his lifetime. So, his name was often not mentioned. There is an anecdote concerning the American guitarist Henry Kaiser who was asked about his inspirations during his first stay in Japan. He only pointed out one name: Takayanagi. The journalist who was conducting the interview was so scared that he changed the name to Wynton Marsalis in the printed version of the interview.

Masayuki Takayanagi died on June 23rd 1991. His discography in English can be found on (date of access: 08.04.2019).

ABE KAORU was a Japanese free jazz musician and saxophone player, known not only because of his music, but also his crazy life and wife, a popular science-fiction novel writer. Suzuki Izumi is considered to be the key writer in the domain connected with gender issues.

He was born on May 3rd 1949 in Kawasaki, Kanagawa district. When he was 17, he dropped out of school and moved to Shinjuku, a city which constitutes a synonym for counter culture changes in Japan. He taught himself to play the saxophone and developed his own theory related to chords. His musical style is almost solely based on experience collected at the time when he was playing for himself only. That is why most of his recordings are solo ones. Kaitaiteki Kokan was his debut and a unique album in this respect – he recorded it in a duo.

The classic way to go for a jazz musician in Japan began with looking at how others play music, then consisted in playing with older and more experienced musicians and slowly shaping one’s own “voice”. Abe Kaoru turned this upside down, as he started by himself and was a very “selfish” musician, i.e. he did not look at others. He would play for hours on the side of the Tokyo-Yokohama motorway, close to the place where he lived, which would surprise drivers going that way. He died on December 9th 1978 in Nakano (a district of Tokyo) because of drug overdose.

An English version of the musician’s biography is available on Wikipedia and on the internet forum (date of access: 08.04.2019).


The Kaitaiteki Kokan (Kaitai Teki Kokan) album was originally released in 1970 on an LP. The first reissue was produced in 1999 by the DIW record label, while a year later some additional copies of the reissue were released. I do not know this version, so I don’t know w

In 2017, the Craftman Records record label released the first reissue on black 180g vinyl. The Japanese record label specializes in reissues of Japanese albums, mainly with jazz music. Among others, it offers Blow Up by Suzuki, Isao Trio/Quartet and Girl Talk by Yama & Jiro's Wave, originally released by Three Blind Mice.‎

An LP reissue still requires a lot of investment. The album costs 80 USD, but considering 4000 USD for the original, it is not much. The problem might be that it contains material copied from the original vinyl record. It is similar when it comes to the digital version released in 2018 – it is also material copied from the original vinyl record.

The CD is a very elegant “mini LP”, i.e. a replica of the vinyl version, with a cover made of beautiful black paper with silver letters. In order not to distort the graphic composition, OBI was shortened. The disc was pressed using the Ultimate HighQualityCD (UHQCD) technology, i.e. an improved version of the HQCD.

The technology consists in utilizing ultra-transparent temperature-stable material used for LCD production instead of ordinary plastic. Its additional advantage is that it hardens after being treated with UV light, thanks to which it fills cavities in the stamper more precisely. Instead of ordinary aluminium, a layer of a silver-based aluminium alloy is applied to the base.


For the first time since a long time ago, I do not know what to say or write and how to assess it all. The intensity of the music is overwhelming and we are hit on the head with it like with a baseball bat, because of which the technical aspect of the musical message, i.e. sound quality becomes less (or rather much less) important.

So, let us first approach it without emotions. The reissue of the Kaitaiteki Kokan album was not made using the analogue master tape or its digital copy, but an LP – it is the so-called needle drop. When we listen to it via loudspeakers, it is not that obvious, but it is enough to shortly listen to it through headphones to hear subtle noise.

It seems that the material was remastered with the objective to eliminate high-frequency crackling noise components and noise, but it was not total removal of sound that was offered by Damian Lipiński on the album entitled Tonight by Savage. Each of the approaches has its advantages and disadvantages. The advantages of the musical message that we get here are its resonance, lightness and open character. A disadvantage is the presence of sound elements related to playing the vinyl record on a turntable.

The instruments are recorded from a certain distance, have little volume and are concentrated on the midrange. Their sound is penetrating, even including the harmonica which enters in the first minute of the second track. When it comes to the division into tracks, it seems artificial because track one is muted, while track two is also muted at the beginning and I am sure that this is the continuation of side one.

A much better idea would be to introduce the division a few dozen seconds later when the harmonica enters – it is the only moment for a deep breath on the whole album. I do not know the original vinyl edition, so I do not know how it was decided, but if the reissue that we are talking about was really copied from the vinyl edition, we simply get a projection of not the master tape itself, but its vinyl copy with the artificial division into sides.

The sound of both instruments (as the harmonica may be omitted), i.e. the electric guitar recorded from a guitar amplifier and the saxophone is penetrating and irritating at times. However, it is not because of what they sound like but because of the music itself. As Marcin Oleś (a jazz double bassist who listened to this album through headphones in my system) said, it resembles a street argument and not a conversation. I do not know how the sound engineers did it, but it is not tiring – naturally, on the condition that it is the music that we are looking for. The volume of the musical message is small, has virtually no depth or textures, but it is still interesting, engaging and hypnotizing.

And this is how I would perceive this album – as a hypnotizing, subliminal message. After the initial shock, as the musicians give their 100% from the very beginning, we begin to accept it and then we get involved in the musical message. Sound is obviously not the best here, but after a moment we stop paying attention to what it all sounds like, or even to what music is being played, as we are in a parallel universe, outside time and the planet Earth. ■