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Green Milk From The Planet Orange

 
It builds for ten minutes – just simple guitar and trumpet lines with a rolling floor tom -- before breaking out in a jazzy, guitar-led psychedelic rock. It’s an unapologetic homage to popular British groups like Yes and early Pink Floyd as well as to cult favorite German bands like Can and Neu. This music belongs to the tradition of progressive psych, but it doesn’t strike the listener as retro or re-hash as much as just good music unlike what we’ve heard on a new record in 30 years, since before these guys were born.

Green Milk from the Planet Orange is hardly the first psychedelic rock band to come from Japan, but they do come at things from a unique angle. They don’t have the goofy British Invasion or R&B influence of 60’s groups like the Mops or the Jacks. Green Milk’s music is much more structurally familiar and accessible than Acid Mothers Temple. They aren’t as aggressive or as noisy as High Rise’s guitar mania. Their closest sonic kin amongst their countrymen is probably Ghost. But whereas Ghost tends to work from U.S. West Coast influences, Green Milk comes at it more from Kraut Rock and British Prog angles.

Simple lines of melody incorporating guitar, bass, drums, trumpet, and synthesizer are the base for improvisations and dips into more abstract realms of blips, echo effected string scratches and bends, distant voices and…well, basically resting up with some ambience before having at it again. Hey, man, three of these songs are over fifteen minutes and all are over six…let busy fingers have a break. The vocals are sparse and usually delivered in a kind of soft, half whisper. The lyrics are in English and are not bad, especially for band working in their second language.

Portland, OR based label Beta-lactam Ring is to be thanked for bringing us He’s Crying “Look,” which is Green Milk from the Planet Orange’s first official U.S. release. Although three of the five songs were previously issued on a self-released CD-R’s, the versions of “Every Color Turns to Black,” “Sweet 5 A.M.,” and all 22 transportational minutes “In the Space, Far Away from This Planet” featured here were re-recorded and are improvements upon the originals, certainly in terms of recording fidelity, anyway. Assuming a basic familiarity and enjoyment of progressive music of the early 1970’s and psychedelic music of the late 60’s, Green Milk from the Planet Orange are well worth the price of investigation. If you’re a big weirdo like me and have an interest in Japanese rock music on top of that, He’s Crying “Look” might just earn a lofty spot in your collection. At the very least, keep an ear out for what’s next from this young band with the potential for a very bright future.

Edward McElvain
April 2004
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