Howard Nishioka – Street Songs
If I had to distill the essence of this album down to one word, I would go with Maelstrom. If I’ve got two words to work with then it’s Shit Storm. Howard Nishioka, who plays electric and acoustic guitar and bass guitar (and vocals on a couple songs), sounds like a man tearing holes in the atmosphere to get at those bright stars shimmering above his secluded Hawaiian compound deep in the woods.
In truth, I don’t know if he really recorded this out in the trees but that’s how I imagine it. On the other hand, he called the record “Street Sounds” and the colors bordering the rather incongruous street scene could cause one to mistake this for a reggae record, instead of the uncompromising fried improvised pyschedelic folk masterpiece that it is. Maybe the disconnect between the cover and the music are what kept most psych afficianados off the scent for nearly 30 years (the album was released privately by Nishioka in relatively small numbers in 1979).
As ferocious and chaotic as this record gets at points, there’s also an underlying calmness and gentleness and some mellower tracks that balance things out nicely. Howard is joined on two long songs by drummer Byron Kitkowsky (who compliments Howard’s shambolic style expertly), and recording engineer Richard Kon contributes washboard and shouts. On the back cover, one finds a concise summation of Nishioka’s approach to sound (and life?): “Screw Limitations!!!”