Exposé Online banner

Heretic — 1984-88
(Belle Antique 9457, 1988/1994, CD)

by Peter Thelen, 1994-08-01:

1984-88 Cover art

Heretic was a Japanese synthesizer / guitar based band from the mid-80s; this release collects three tracks from their first album Interface (1985) when they were essentially a three-piece (two synthesizers, guitar + violin) with sequenced percussion, their entire second album Escape Sequence (1988) featuring a five piece lineup (percussion, synth-bass, and cello, synth added to original lineup) and several guests including guitarist Yozox Yamamoto and drummer Taiqui Tomiiye of Ain Soph, and one live track from 1988. The three early tracks tend to be pastoral and melodically colorful, with guitar adding some solo work to a thick synthesizer base. The synth-drums are used sparingly, and in the context of the music sound quite appropriate, as they might on an album by Vangelis, Neuronium, or Jarre. On the second album they take a more bold and aggressive stance, balancing sonic experimentalism with a powerful Heldon-like energy. The 22 minute "Do Heretick" covers a lot of ground, and is by far the most experimental piece on the disc. By the same token, "Fail Safe Error" is certainly the most energetic and urgent, its pulsating rhythms and screaming contorted guitars could be straight from Heldon's Standby or King Crimson's Starless and Bible Black, it even lifts a few lines of dialog from the Henry Fonda movie of the same title. "Anonymous" is a shorter track, the only one here that features lyrics; "Tripping on Waves" is a jazzier sounding piece with some flashy guitar-work, and Yozox' only writing contribution to the album; ethereal vocals by Minako Urasawa are the highlight of the all-too-short "m-a-f-o-r-o-b-a.” The live track is the nine-minute "Resource,” a very Crimsonesque workout — the dual percussion will remind of Bruford and Muir on Larks' Tongues, and the wandering Frippisms of the solo guitar offer further evidence of influence — and interestingly enough, there's hardly any synth to be heard here, very different from what the band was doing just a few years before. This 76 minute disc covers a lot of territory, but it's a journey that most should enjoy!


by Mike Ezzo, 1996-03-01:

Active in Kyoto from 1984 until about 1989, Heretic was a trio which consisted of Hirofumi Kawahara, Toru Ohta, and Suguru Mori, performing on synths, guitar, and cello. For this CD release Belle Antique has put together a collection of tracks from the two LPs Escape Sequence and Interface. I'm not sure whether or not this does justice to Heretic's music since I haven't heard the complete original recordings. What we end up with on 1984-88 are four pairs of songs that resemble each other. The simultaneously warm and spacey "Excerpts from Interface Part 1" and " Part 2" aspire to Mike Oldfield proportions. But the arrangements seem almost like demos, because the drum machine can't prove the proper foil for Ohta's emotive guitar work. Then there is the manic, 90-mph epic tour-de-force "Do Heretick" and its companion, "Fail Safe Error." The former begins with a rich evocative drone and sparse percussion. The effect is splendid. About seven minutes into it, the atmosphere is transformed into a rampaging cybernetic free-for-all. Not to complain, but I was quite happy with the blissful opening section the way it was. In contrast are the slowly drifting landscapes of "El Rayo de Luna" and "m.a.f.o.r.o.b.a". Cello and soft female voice sneak in ever so subtly on these endangered species. These are my two favorite moments on the entire CD. Finally there are two group songs, featuring guests from Lacrymosa and Ain Soph. One is an open-ended jam, on which Ohta lets it fly with a Pinhas-inspired solo. Very nicely done! The other comes across somewhat like an electronic version of an 80s Crimson piece. So, all in all, a mixed set of compositions from Heretic, which should motivate more than a few people to search out their two rare LP releases.


by Henry Schneider, 1994-12-31:

Heretic was a Japanese group that released two albums in the 80s. This CD combines these two albums and includes a bonus track recorded live in the studio. 1984-88 is interesting in that you can hear how Heretic’s music evolved over the four year period. The first three tracks are excerpts from "Interface Part 1," "Interface Part 2," and "El Rayo de Luna." The music is quite melodic with a progressive rock flavor. The fiery guitar work is outstanding and reminds me of Mike Oldfield. There are also moments during these first three songs when the music almost slips into New Age but it retains an edge. "El Rayo de Luna" has a particularly cinematic feel, almost a spaghetti western, and reminded me somewhat of Popol Vuh’s movie soundtracks. Following these we skip ahead in time to Heretic’s second album (1988). "Do Heretic" is 22 minutes of Heretic’s new musical direction. The music has a darker feel and slowly builds to a Heldon-like climax. The music is not as harsh or frantic as Heldon, more like a kinder and gentler Peter Frohmader. The next song is "Fail Safe Error." Something has seriously gone wrong. U. S. planes are about to attack Moscow due to a glitch in the system and the pilots won’t respond to the President! This movie soundtrack weaves in and out of suspenseful music, a fast bass groove, and some caterwauling violins. This is another excellent song sure to please fans of King Crimson and Heldon. Then the band shifts gears on us again with "Anonymous," a beautiful quiet acoustic guitar ballad sung in Japanese that reminded me of Neuronium’s "Abismos de terciopelo" from Vuelo Quimico. Once more Heretic changes directions with "Tripping on Waves," a jazzy tune with many strange and interesting sounds and noises popping in and out all over the spectrum. The last song from their second album is "m*a*f*o*r*o*b*a," an airy little bit of floating electronics. The CD closes with another King Crimson/Heldon influenced tour de force, "Resource." Here we have nine minutes of searing guitars, bass, and drum recalling Larks Tongue in Aspic and Red and including the talent of Chihiro S. (AKA Lacrymosa) on electric bass. 1984-88 is one fine release that displays the talents of a fine band that no longer exists. If you are a fan of any of the above named groups be sure to seek this one out.


Filed under: Archives , 1994 releases, 1988 releases

Related artist(s): Heretic

More info

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Dungen - Skit i Alt – Dungen is a four-piece band of guitar, bass and drums together with composer Gustav Ejstes, a keyboard player who also plays flute and guitar. He sings in a nice nasal tenor style much like Porcupine...  (2011) » Read more

Peter Garland - String Quartets – Exuberant, bright and energetic, these two string quartets performed by Apartment House ( a traditional line-up of two violins, viola and cello) manage to cover a few centuries’ worth of style while...  (2010) » Read more

Ritual - Ritual – There's been a lot of commotion about this since its release. When I started seeing it listed on peoples' top picks of '95, I figured I better get a copy and find out what the fuss is all about. Seems...  (1996) » Read more

Marathon - Sublime Dreams – Why do they do that? I hate that! On Sublime Dreams, Marathon commits the cardinal sin of having vocals in a language that they don't quite have in their grasp. The lyrics appear to have been...  (1995) » Read more

Magma - Merci – With a seven year hiatus since Magma's previous studio album, Merci finds Vander pushing a completely new sound for the band. The influence of early 80s pop music is fairly strong here; gated...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues