With the release of Sweet Inspirations At Muon, the first appearance on vinyl of Tori Kudo’s mythical early ‘80s primitive rock gang Sweet Inspirations, another piece of the seemingly endless puzzle of the Japanese underground has fallen into place. Recorded some time in 1982 at Yokohama venue Muon – precise details are sketchy – we’re now given another chance to discover what was going on in Kudo’s mind just before he formed the group he is now best known for, the ragtag gang of pro and amateur musicians that was Maher Shalal Hash Baz.
Sweet Inspirations were one of several groups formed by Kudo around this time. He’d already released the visionary naïve-art album, Tenno, in collaboration with Reiko Omura, in 1980, and a trip to New York the following year led to the recording of Atlantic City, under the name La Consumption 4. Returning to Japan, Kudo first formed Guys’N’Dolls with Jun Yoshiwara (bass) and Kiyoaki Iwamoto (drums); Yoshiwara carried over into Sweet Inspirations, who existed for a few years, their membership, at various times, featuring Asahito Nanjo (High Rise etc.), Jutok Kaneko (Kousokuya), Yoshio Kuge (Les Rallizes Denudes etc.), 3C123 and many more.
The material here was originally released, without permission, by the Cragale label on CD-R in 2000. It was one of a sudden wave of archival CD-Rs that Cragale pumped out that year of material recorded at Muon, which was owned by Kohei Iehara, who co-founded Cragale with Tamotsu Hongo. In the context of the recent unleashing of material from the Kudo archives – the 9CD At Goodman set, the reissue of the first two Maher Shalal Hash Baz cassettes and the Noise LP, and the tantalising glimpses of other historical gems via Tori’s own Bandcamp page – hearing Sweet Inspirations with such clarity fills in a significant piece of the puzzle; here is Kudo, just before Maher, channelling the rough conceptualism of Red Krayola and the glinting, staggered rhythms of Syd Barrett into extended blooms of ragged glory, sketching out future classics like “Manson Girls”; A bonus CD includes a cover of a song by legendary South Korean rock group San Ul Lim.