Editor's note: The authors of this post, Peter Kolovos and Steve Lowenthal, worked closely with Hideo Ikeezumi in his final years, with Kolovos purchasing most of the impressive catalog of music he had released and reissuing that catalog through his U.S.-based Black Editions. Below, they share a remembrance of the man as well as a cross-sectional playlist, complete with "liner notes," compiled from the vast catalog of strange, lovely sounds that Mr. Ikeezumi dedicated himself to.
Over nearly forty years Hideo Ikeezumi, the Japanese founder of the infamous record label P.S.F. who died early this week at the age of 67, was a champion of his country's always-vibrant underground scene, introducing the world to some of the most distinct and uncompromising music ever created in Japan.
Ikeezumi was born in 1949 in Tokyo, starting his career in music as a buyer for large record store chain Gobangai. Eventually, he became frustrated at the lack of diversity and far-out sounds that the chain would allow to be stocked. To remedy that cultural blind spot he founded the store Modern Music in the early '80s in Tokyo, stocking the music he cared most about — free jazz, avant-garde, psychedelic rock and other hard-to-find-at-the-time genres. Quickly, his shop became a focal point for adventurous Japanese musicians.
Ikeezumi launched P.S.F. records several years later, in 1984, with the release of the aptly titled Psychedelic Speed Freaks, the debut album of Tokyo band High Rise, which became a titular acronym and shorthand for the new label (its name was, in fact, somewhat amorphous). Works followed soon by iconic Japanese artists such as Keiji Haino, Ghost, Kaoru Abe, White Heaven, Che SHIZU, Shizuka and many others; the label would eventually release over 240 albums. And, across nearly ten volumes, P.S.F.'s seminal Tokyo Flashback compilations provided wide-ranging introductions to the curious and helped to expand the label beyond its Tokyo base. To further document and explore the music he was working with, Ikeezumi also sporadically published the magazine G-Modern.
Though Modern Music closed in 2014, Ikeezumi continued his work with the label, even as his deteriorating health began to slow his days. In recent years, he reached an agreement [with Kolovos and Lowenthal], through Black Editions, to reissue the P.S.F. catalog.