J.A. Caesar (also spelled J.A. Seazer and J.A. Ceaser) is the pseudonym for a Tokyo music composer who has been involved with creating music for various theater and film projects since the very early '70s. His music is a radical mixture of progressive rock, traditional Japanese theater music, and Magma-inspired Zeuhl music. In fact, Caesar's flirtation with Zeuhl long predates the similar Zeuhl influences on many later Japanese groups like Ruins, Bondage Fruit, and Koenji Hyakkei.
In the very early '70s, Caesar aligned himself with legendary experimental theater director Shuji Terayama. Terayama was also a film director, poet, artist, and cultural agitator, and had been writing movie screenplays since 1960. Caesar became musical director for Terayama's theater company, Tenjo Sajiki, as well as the soundtrack artist for most of Terayama's films in the early '70s and onward. Caesar's first appearance on record was with the Tokyo Kid Brothers, another experimental theater troupe formed by Yutaka Higashi; Caesar composed some tracks on their 1971 LP Throw Away the Books, Let's Go into the Streets (Sho O Suteyo, Machi Deyo). This album is the soundtrack to either the movie or the play with the same name by Terayama. The next year, the Victor label released Tenjousajiki: Jasoumon, a live recording of one of Terayama's theater productions, under J.A. Caesar's name.
Throughout the '70s and into the early '80s, Caesar worked with Terayama on theater events that blended traditional Japanese Noh theater with experimental progressive rock. Other records from Terayama's plays were Recital, Kokkyo Junreika (originally issued in 1973), Ship of Fools (1977) on the Nippon Columbia label, and Shintokumaru on the Victor label the next year -- all these records offering intense music with weird choruses and rhythms. Caesar also composed the soundtracks for several experimental and surrealist films directed by Terayama at this time, including Pastoral Hide and Seek (Den 'en Ni Shisu) in 1975, which was a competing film in the Cannes Film Festival.
When Terayama passed away in 1983, Caesar took over the theater company and renamed it Banyu Inryoku, and though it has kept Terayama's vision intact, not much new was issued on record until the late '90s, when Caesar resurfaced as the soundtrack artist to several anime films including Revolutionary Girl Utena and the soundtrack to Hiromichi Tannai's film Pilgrimage of Blood in 2001. ~ Rolf Semprebon