Recorded in 1989 and 1990, Hiroyuki Usui's barely circulated masterpiece of deeply felt self-expression beautifully captures the spirit and substance of a half-dozen key sub-underground pillars of sound. Working with guitar, vocals, vibes, harmonium, bass, drums, cello, field recordings, digeridoo, and more, Usui blends delicate folk, psychedelia, and experimental sounds into a mostly subdued but undeniably glowing suite. The layered but careful instrumentation on the epic title track and "Troll" backs the alternately plain-spoken and crooning vocals perfectly. Odd touches like snatches of throat singing and bowed vibraphone leap out of the mix at just the right time. There are overt references to the blues (the first track is an oblique cover of "Cold Was The Ground") -- but other than the occasional slide guitar touch, the connection is overwhelmingly in the timeless feeling and atmosphere. For anyone who's into Richard Youngs, Popol Vuh, Six Organs of Admittance, Tim Buckley, acid-folk, or Japanese underground, this is an essential purchase. Holy Letters was self-released by Usui in the early '90s and primarily given away to friends, while a handful made it into shops in Tokyo and the U.S. before it disappeared completely. VHF's reissue includes the entire CD and seven-inch from the original package, plus a tenminute bonus track from the original sessions. The gatefold folio with 20-page booklet includes previously unpublished photos and new liner notes by Usui and Ben Chasny (in both Japanese and English).Usui's name pops up in several intriguing places in the apparently still under-documented Japanese underground lexicon: as drummer for Fushitsusha in the late '70s and early '80s); in A-Musik (with legendary vocalist Phew); in Marble Sheep; and several other true underground outfits. Usui's brilliant collaboration with Six Organs Of Admittance will be released in 2005 in Drag City.
item # 15770