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Michihiro Kimura

This art director, master improvisational musician and founding member of Takehisa Kosugi’s freeform ensemble Taj Mahal Travellers is nowadays most well known for the three superb and iconically similar LP sleeves that he designed for records by Speed Glue & Shinki, Hiro Yanagida, Foodbrain in the early ‘70. The previous year, he had joined Tokyo’s Taj Mahal Ryokoudan design company, where he had designed the striking album art for Masahiko Satoh’s PALLADIUM, on Bridge Records. Satoh’s association with the guitarist Kimio Mizutani, brought his record sleeve to the attention of Polydor president Ikuzo Orita, who was looking for particularly eye-catching designs. Orita first asked Kimura to design a cover for the impending Foodbrain LP. Kimura blew up a photograph of an African elephant as large as possible for the Foodbrain album art, and everyone was delighted with the results. Next, for Hito Yanagida’s solo LP MILK TIME, the same process was repeated this time with a particularly appealing gorilla. When Ikuzo Orita moved over to Atlantic Records, he took Kimura’s ideas with him, and a huge tiger by Kimura adorned the cover of the legendary second Speed Glue & Shinki double-LP. As a member of Taj Mahal Travellers, Kimura added his voice, percussion and mandolin to their heady sonic underground still, as well as his ‘self-made instrument’ and a tree branch, which he is seen shaking throughout the Taj Mahal Travellers TV documetary that followed the band throughout 1969 across Denmark, Sweden, Britain and Iran. Unfortunately, outside of his work with Taj Mahal Travllers, Kimura’s only other known musical contribution to the Japanese rock scene was the appalling ‘free clarinet’ that assaults the senses throughout side two of the Foodbrain disaster ‘The Hole In A Sausage’.

Julian Cope
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