Japan was a bit behind the rest of the 1st world when it came to hardcore - the US had Hardcore bands in 1978, Europe had stuff going by 1979 - with the exception of the SS from Tokyo, (who might just seem hardcore because of a very noisy live recording) who had a 12" recorded March 1979. The Stalin were making music in 1980 but the recorded output in the early days was definitely on a more Punk/No Wave slant. A band called Typhus did an early flexi that is punky but definitely has some hardcore elements; the members of this band went on to be in 3 of the most important bands in Japanese Hardcore history. The Guitar player Tam was in the Stalin and also the excellent G-Zet. One of the guys went on to be in Aburadako who have continued to this day. But the most hardcore of them all was Gauze formed in the Fall of 1981.
The original plan according to Shin the bass player was to play as fast as possible. Now this is an admirable thing, but the Gauze approach was a bit different from say DRI. They attempted to give the impression of playing fast without actually playing fast. To imitate the feeling. Or something. I'm not going to pretend to understand what they are talking about. The first Gauze recordings are the tracks from the City Rocker compilation LP with features a bunch of New Wave bands and Gauze doing 10 songs, which don't sound like any other Gauze tracks. They are very UK influenced down to an almost straight up cover of Discharge's "No TV Sketch" except the song title is "Anti-Machine". The Outsider tracks are much rougher so I assume this was recorded in later '82. They are also live which adds to the roughness. Gauze weren't heard again until 1984's Fuckheads LP on ADK records. This LP is rough hardcore and perhaps this is the beginning of what they meant by the fast feeling without playing fast thing. The sound is intense but is certainly not fast for most of it, even compaired to the standards of 1984.
1986 saw the release of Equalizing Distort - to me this is the beginning of the modern Gauze sound. After 5 years of playing they had found their sound. Although by 1989 when they released the Genkai Wa Doko Da ("What's the Limit?") LP (1/2 studio, 1/2 live in Scotland) they had picked up the pace a little bit and the song structure had become even more ugly and hateful and powerful. The production is very muddy on this but it's still one of the best hardcore records of the late 80s/early 90s. At this point Gauze had been around for almost 10 years, in fact in 1991 they played the 10th Anniversary gig, where they played 3 sets covering the 3 periods they had gone through, roughly in the last 10 years. They played 51 songs over these 3 sets and even changed equipment to give it a more authentic feel as well. It wasn't until 1996 that they did anything notable again when they came to the US to do a tour. Now this is a sort of typical Japanese tour: they only played 3 shows. They had a 4th scheduled but it was cancelled when some dope broke a pipe in the ceiling and flooded the gig space in the now defunct Epicenter Zone record store/distro. They also played at Gilman St. in Berkeley, at the Bomb Shelter in Minneapolis and in Chicago at the Fireside Bowl. They also recorded songs for a 7" that came out on Prank a little after this, while they were in SF.
1997 saw the release of their newest 12" Kao O Aratte Denaoshite Koi (literally translated means "Go wash your face and come back" - a Japanese expression used after someone is physically beaten by someone else) which has to be the best record by a hardcore band that had been around for 16 years ever. It is simply their best work, the songs explode from the grooves and kick your face in, then snap off your teeth with a pair of rusty pliers. It's that intense. We are now in the year 2001, September we are likely to see a Gauze 20th anniversary show. Perhaps we'll see a new LP by 2005. It'll be worth the wait.
FUCKHEADS LP (ADK, 1984)
EQUALIZING DISTORT 12" (Selfish, 1986)
GENKAI WA DOKO DA LP (Selfish, 1989)
5 song 7" (Prank, 1996)
KAO O ARATTE DENAOSHITE KOI 12" (XXX, 1997)
CITY ROCKERS LP (City Rocker, 1982)
OUTSIDER LP (City Rocker, 1982)
THRASH TIL DEATH LP (Selfish, 1986)
A FAREWELL TO ARMS LP (Selfish, 1986)
SHOUDOKU GIG LP (Selfish, 1987)
English translation of lyrics to Equalizing Distort (this translation is from a bootleg LP)
Gauze Page on The Jap Hardcore Punk Page
This page has a Gauze discography, with album cover pictures and reviews - it's part of a large site on Japanese Hardcore. In Japanese only...
Official Gauze Page
Also only in Japanese, but it has a lot of pictures from recent live shows - I stole one for this page.