Fearless. That’s how we’d describe Phew, a seminal member of Japan’s underground music scene since the late ’70s. Back then, the Osaka native was the singer in the short-lived punk band Aunt Sally, an absolute must for anyone who’s into the bolder sides of Siouxsie and the Banshees and PiL… if you can afford it. (Original pressings of the group’s only album are currently going for as much as €800.00.)
Her early solo efforts are worth a closer look as well, starting with a self-titled 1981 debut that was engineered by Krautrock auteur Conny Plank and co-piloted by Can’s own Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit. Other noteworthy collaborators from that era include Ryuichi Sakamoto and members of Einstürzende Neubauten (Alex Hacke) and DAF (Chrislo Haas), but Phew didn’t stop there. Aside from some latter-day sessions with Ana da Silva (The Raincoats), Jim O’Rourke, Oren Ambarchi, Ikue Mori, and Yoshimi P-We (OOIOO, Boredoms, Saicobab), Phew has unleashed a string of crucial poison-tipped cuts over the past four years, starting with the stellar 2017 LP Light Sleep.
It, too, is long sold out — an alternate universe where Alan Vega and Martin Rev toss brittle smart bombs at Nico. Fans of that full-length and Phew’s Voice Hardcore EP can now hear a fresh batch of previously unreleased material from this period on the Disciples compilation Vertigo KO. According to Phew, the “unconscious sound sketch was recorded in Japan from 2017 to 2019, a closed and obstructive time. It is not a presentation of a worldview, but a personal documentary music of the late 2010s. The hidden message of this album is: What a terrible world we live in, but let’s survive.”
A similar burn-it-all-down-and-start-again spirit runs through the following playlist of hardcore punk music from Japan, which Phew was kind enough to share along with a set of succinct liner notes….