Review Summary: Wilt with the dawn's welcoming pain
Just who in the world is Harumi? What is Harumi?
Another album in the vast one-off album void of obscurity that enveloped the era of vinyl, Harumi
is an eighty-minute long psychedelic work that spends most of its time disguised as 60s AM radio pop with psychedelic-leanings in the vein of Jefferson Airplane, but when further inspected, presents itself as one of the more restrained psychedelic recordings of its era. The man behind the album itself, Harumi, is closer to a non-entity if anything; an ex-pat who ventured to New York and managed to conjure up a working relationship with the renowned producer Tom Wilson (perhaps best known for his work with Dylan, Zappa and Nico) and a contract with Verve under their Forecast imprint, Harumi (if that’s even his real name, considering the name “Harumi’s” feminine connotations in his native Japan) recorded said album in New York sometime in 1967, in which it was released sometime in 1968, and like most albums that languish in obscurity, was quickly deleted and was relegated to the cut-out bins in any record store that bothered to fill out any orders for the double album.
Anything about Harumi following the recording of his self-titled work is practically unknown – all that we’re left with is an album that gradually shifts into a work of restrained psychedelia that needs warming up to. Spending its time idly fooling you into believing you’re listening to a run-of-the-mill pop album that is bereft with incredibly dated “woah dude so trippy” studio tricks, Harumi
teases its listener with rare moments of true delirium that is often under a veil of Byrdsian pop rock. However, with the turn of the second side and onto the other LP, Harumi
turns the psych pop formula it had practiced upside down with the monolithic “Twice Told Tales of the Pomegranate Forest”, a number containing a multitude of traditional Japanese instruments, such as the koto, while Harumi and “Rosko” (which is said by some to be Wilson) engaging in a whacked-out conversation, or moreso the accompaniment to the drawn-out composition. The final cut “Samurai Memories” goes further beyond and features members of Harumi’s family speaking over a relatively well-done jam deserving of the psychedelic labelling. So, what happened to Harumi is still, and most likely, will remain a mystery. Dead or alive, nobody knows anything about him except for the sole piece of evidence he was an actual living person – an album simply bearing his name along with the music that it contained. It’s nowhere close to being perfect and is as every bit obscure as the person who made it, but it’s a nice relic of the 60s scene, where it always seemed like anything
could be done.