Though Les Rallizes Denudes, also known as Hadaka no Rallizes, were one of the earliest and most revolutionary Japanese psychedelic rock bands, and have existed off and on through four decades, they are also one of the most obscure, barely known even in their native country. This cult of noise terrorists shrouded themselves in mystery, seldom touring and releasing very few records, usually with no discernible label. Their sound presages the later psychedelic experimental noise of Fushitsusha, High Rise, and others in the current crop more than any other Japanese psychedelic group from the late '60s.
Revolving around guitarist and vocalist Mizutani Takashi, Les Rallizes Denudes formed in November of 1967 at Kyoto University, inspired by Exploding Plastic Inevitable-era Velvet Underground as well as the over-amplified rock of Blue Cheer. By 1968 they were gigging live and even began a regular collaboration with an avant-garde theater troupe, which ended the next year because of Les Rallizes' penchant for extreme volumes of sound. Not only did they use massive amounts of feedback at loud volumes, their stage shows used strobe lights, mirror balls, and other effects for a live experience that was a total sensory assault.
Les Rallizes also aligned themselves with radical left-wing politics, performing at the front lines of student demonstrations against Vietnam and even the student occupation of Kyoto University in April of 1969. One original member, Wakabayashi, was involved in the Japanese Red Army hijacking of a flight to North Korea, known as the Yodo-go incident, and because of Mizutani's own connections with the Red Army, the group's gigs became more infrequent and clandestine. They didn't record much in the studio, and the only music of theirs to come out on vinyl at this time was one side of the double-LP compilation Oz Days Live, released by Oz Discs in 1973. In fact, Les Rallizes kept going throughout the '70s and '80s without releasing a thing, and then suddenly they put out three CDs of archival recordings in 1991, and a video the next year. Of these, the double CD/LP '77 Live highlights them at the top of their form, with 10- to 20-minute tracks of intense guitar feedback and drones over repetitive rhythms and heavily distorted vocals.
Les Rallizes played their final gig in October of 1996, nearly 30 years after their inception. All their albums were released in very limited quantities and are extremely difficult to find, with collectors grabbing them immediately when they show up in stores and catalogs. Because of their reputation for secrecy and violence, as well as the difficulty in tracking down their recordings, Les Rallizes Denudes have taken on an almost mythic status. ~ Rolf Semprebon