September 18th
Toshimaru Nakamura
Kid Ailack Art Hall, Meidaimae, Tokyo.

Roughly three weeks before the festival a second outside show was added , Toshimaru Nakamura solo at Kid Ailack Hall.  This was originally described as Toshi perform a long solo set, perhaps two or three hours in length. When asked about it at yesterdays show, Toshi was a lot more conservative about the projected duration, stating that an hour and a half would be the upper bound. The set ended up being forty-five minutes.  It had followed its natural arc though so I think this was for the best.

Jon and Yuko had come in earlier after meeting IHM admin Mark in Shinjuku so Keith and I had dinner at an okay place next to the katsu place we’d gone to the night before.  It was kind of the Japanese equivalent of Denny’s I’d say, it had a wide variety of traditional Japanese dishes all rather mediocre.  From there we took the Chūō Line to Shinjuku Station and from there caught the private Keiō Line to Meidaimae (this actually is not the most effecient route, as it took one away from Meidaimae and then you kind of came back. Instead you want to take the Chūō to Kichijoji and then the Keiō Line). Keith had played Kid Ailack Hall in the past so once we got to the station he was able to easily find his way there.

KAHKid Ailack Hall is a small, rectangular black box theater type of space about half a flight of stairs above street level. The building contained the Book Cafe in a sort of half sub basement and apparently galleries above the hall.  The hall had maybe thirty or forth “chairs” of the strap of canvas between a scissored frame of wood, kind of like a folding camp stool. There was a decent crowd for Nakamura’s solo set but only about half filled I’d say. Jon had saved us seats up front and Mark was right next to him.  Good to meet a fellow IHM-er here, hadn’t ran into Mark at a show since ErstQuake 2.  We chatted for a bit until maybe 15 minutes past the advertised show time, Toshimaru Nakamura sat behind his mixer and the lights dimmed.

Toshimaru Nakamura
Toshimaru Nakamura solo in Kid Ailack Hall

Now I’d seen Toshi solo just the night before and while that was about fifteen minutes it actually turned out to be like a sketch for tonight’s show.  He followed the structure of the night before and utilized pretty much the same subset of his repertoire of sounds.  Everything was extended and explored a bit further and there were several unique events but the degree to which that short set was like an abstract of this one was quite high.  It began with a hissing of white noise which he brought up to a pretty decent level. Not loud per se but not setup as a wash to fill the background. After a bit of this he began to utilize the electrical pops and clicks as he had the night before. After a bit this was cut out and there was a decent interval of near silence. A long thin tone was brought up into this which he then manipulated for a good piece, modulating and tweaking it. The volume was brought done leaving this single tone still playing just very quietly. The white noise was brought back in and he began to build up the density using it, the tone and various rips and tears of feedback.  This was worked for a while and then he generated this odd bonging sound that I’d say was oscillating feedback run through a reverb at some extreme setting. He let this bong for a bit, but it out and with kind of a look of disappointment cut out everything else. He picked up his watch looking a bit ruefull upon noting the time and that was that.

So those chairs I mentioned earlier, well they themselves were an additional participant in this set.  The squeaked with the sound of canvas rubbing against wood when you shifted in them and some movements would make them quite audibly slide against the floor.  For a while this wasn’t an issue but a certain point, usually around a half an hour, you’d get cascades of these sounds as people had to change positions. Personally while I tried to avoid making sounds myself (failed of course) I tended to enjoy their additions to the various sets.  It was definitely a factor toward the end of Toshi’s set, but not as dramatic as it would be in some of the sparser sets.

As for the music itself I thought it was okay but nothing particularly special.  I’ve long been on the record of preferring Toshi’s collaborative work with only Side Guitar and this years Dance Music completely working for me.  I was under the impression that he was changing some aspect of his solo performance and that we’d get a chance to witness some of these new developments.  What seemed different to me from some of his other solo work was that we was working with a much more restricted palette. In the past he often let the oscillating feedback drive a lot of the structure, adding delays and other effects to create almost techno like pieces driven by that rhythm. There was nothing like that and when the oscillating feedback would arise he’d tend to tweak it into non existence. The odd ping-ponging bonging tones that ended this set was something that I’d think he’d have gone with on say the Vehicle sessions. Here he stuck with white noise, sine waves, open circuit sounding clicks and pops and various tearing bursts of feedback.

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