Entries tagged with “Katsura Yamauchi”.


lightSeptember 21st
Erstwhile Records presents
AMPLIFY 2008: light day 3

Kid Ailack Art Hall, Meidaimae, Tokyo, Japan

Disk UnionThe last day of the festival dawned again overcast and rainy.  I’d broken down and bought a cheap umbrella, which I have to say for this Washington State resident felt like a major defeat.  It did make it easier to take pictures and such as I wasn’t getting rain on my camera lenses.  I had again ended up in Shinjuku and on this weekend day they closed down some of the streets and there were people vending everything from yakitori to champagne in the streets.  I wandered around the shopping districts enjoying the varied sights from cosplayers to barkers in front of electronics stores. I randomly found Disc Union and checked out two of their stores, one was three stories of just jazz the other eight stories of varied music. The avant section was of course on the eighth floor.  Some neat stuff there, especially cool to see all of the Obscure Tape Music from Japan series laid out as well Stockhausen-Verlag releases and that amazing Alga Marghen Charllote Moorman set.  Later I found the Tower Records which has an amazing 20th Century classical section. Again I didn’t end up buying anything (the internet kind of makes this moot, unless you find OOP stuff) but great to see these stores packed with obscure music.

I’d spent enough time in Shinjuku that for once I didn’t arrive in Meidaimae all that early.  Early enough though, the hall was still pretty empty when I arrived.  Tonight was all duos the first being amongst the most anticipated sets of this festival by yours truly. Toshi/Keith I’d seen before and of course there are two recorded documents of this duo.  Yoshimura/Yamauchi was sort of an unknown, but I have to admit at this point I was pretty weary of Yamaichi’s playing.  The reports of an earlier collaboration of theirs was highly intriguing though, so I was still cautiously looking forward.  The drizzle that had been pretty persistent this day had now turned into a driving rain, far exceeding the rainfall from the earlier “typhoon”. I thought the rain if audible inside would added to the proceedings, but I don’t really recall hearing it during any of the sets.


Empty Sampler

Keith Rowe/Sachiko M
The third set from Keith this festival, this one a first time duo meeting with Sachiko.  When Jon Abbey first mentioned this duo to me, I said something along the lines of “they’ll have to really push themselves to not make this sound exactly how I imagine it”.  Now how I imagine it would be great music, something I’d enjoy a lot, but I can’t deny that I’d love to see these two exceptional musicians surprise me.  The options that one could pretty easily imagine are; Sachiko providing her trademark long pure tones with Keith working in spikier, more discrete territory above that. Conversely it could be Keith in his laminal sound world providing the ground upon which Sachiko, in Salon de mode, interjects her micro events.  A third option would be both of them working with continuous sound which I think would be the least successful and not something I’d expect (why you ask, well in this realm it would actually rather sound like a Keith solo, as there are times he layers in things that aren’t too dissimilar to a  pure tone). Finally of course would be various combinations of the above.  Well what they ended up doing was none of these and granted me the surprise and delight I was hoping for.

Sachiko did indeed work in the Salon de Sachiko territory with its clicks, pops, short tones and other micro events. Keith though eschewing any droning worked with equally discrete event creating this bristling sound world.  This worked incredibly, tension filled, constantly engaging.  Keith worked with the Brillo pad, with contact mics, with metallic objects but no fan, no radio and no Bluetooth interference.  It was as if the bulk of the tools he’d used to date were set aside so he could focus on the bare essentials. The music was very spacious, events coming into the environment, colliding or not, letting the room provide as much, or more perhaps, of the music as the muscians.  There were intrusions as three times late comers came in and squeezed themselves into spaces at the front and by the door. But this fragmented world of pops, clicks, pongs, sprongs, twitters and hisses allowed these interjections and incorporated them. Like his earlier duo with Unami there was an aspect of exploration, of feeling each other out, but by mostly sticking with a finite realm, almost as if each were playing solo, it never felt tentative. There was a confidence in both their playing, they were working with tools they understood but in a fresh context. They worked with these tiny events, many from Keith seeming inaudible (he later said that he’d practice some gestures, trying them out silently before repeated them at volume) over the course of thirty-forty minutes, constantly moving ahead though these sounds could be the background hiss of stasis.  In the end Sachiko dropped in a few longer tones, inching the development along perfectly. They stopped playing, there was a pause, then one final pop! from Sachiko and the set was over.

This was fantastic music and an incredible set by two giants pushing each other into fresh territory.  It reminded me in parts of Good Morning, Good Night but with Keith not trying to necessarily complement Sachiko but to push it further. The activity was a lot more seething and varied then in that recording and different in that this duo was more contrasting then complementing.  I have to say that this duo’s forthcoming Erstwhile recording is pretty much tops on my anticipation list.

the hands of Yoshimura
The hands of Yoshimura

Katsura Yamauchi/Mitsuhiro Yoshimura
After seeing Yamauchi solo twice and in duo with Nakamura it really seemed like he was doing the same thing every set. There was always a bit of a surprise from him: the jazz numbers the first show and those blasted tones at the first night of Amplify. In general though it seemed like he had a formula and was sticking to it.  Now as I intimated earlier this duo has occurred before and it was one of their earlier performances that led to Yamauchi’s inclusion in this festival. So it is possible that he had a different shtick that he saved for use in this duo.  Yoshimura was against the far left wall with his mic literally turned against the wall. He also was working with only one set of headphones in contrast to his solo set. It again was pretty dark as they started, a light on Yamauchi and his alto but Yoshimura again in near darkness.

I was only one seat from the wall on this day, so I was quite close to Yoshimura which turned out to be to my advantage as his sound was much quieter then it was the night prior.  He generated his high thin wail of feedback and would simply modulate it by careful manipulations of the headphones.  Yamauchi I’m sad to say ran through the exact same series of events he had done on the three previous sets I’d seen.  He started with the hissy breathing, moved to the near circular breathing rattly metallic sound, then the key clicking and finally looped around to the dry hisses. I honestly got bored in this set and it felt like it went on way too long. The dry hisses worked the best with Yoshimura’s sound but I’d tired of the routine. From what others told me Yoshimura was nearly inaudible further away so even these small moments of nicely contrasting sounds was limited to only a few of us. This for me was musically the least interesting set of the festival, my expectations had been quite low and even those weren’t met.

empty nimb

Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura
Concluding the festival was the Erstwhile supergroup of Keith Rowe and Toshimaru Nakamura.  Their first album Weather Sky was the musical document that shifted my interest in this area of music from tentative dabbling to full on obsession.   I’d saw them live once before at ErstQuake 2, where they produced an enjoyable if not very exciting set.  Their second album, between, was the first time an Erstwhile project had been revisited and it amply demonstrated two artists that were not standing still. These two consummate musicians know each other inside and out and push each other constantly and I think are about as reliable a duo working in music today. So it wasn’t too surprising that they headlined the entire festival, but the surprise was in the music that they produced.

The began right off with loud aggressive waves of feedback and grinding industrial metallic attacks.  This wasn’t a simple burst of energy, they took these loud sounds and worked with them, pushing them further and further. It was in the realm of 13630 kHz from between but longer and denser then that track.  This slowly morphed into this completely insane post-industrial sound world at one point sounding like nothing more then a massive warehouse filled with and infinite number IBM Selectric typewriters being assaulted by an infinite number of monkeys. On crack.  Incredibly mechanical and industrial sounding.  But the set wasn’t simply aggressive mechanical sounds, at many points one or both would drop out leaving sounds hanging in the air and revealing the underpinnings of the affair. After the aforementioned Selectric section Keith turned off some fans, Toshi dropped out and you could hear this crazed chittering of Bluetooth interference which combined with those other activities had created that maddening effect.  Toshi brought it back up with dense rips and tears of feedback that cut through these sounds but were never allowed to fall into any sort of pattern. Keith cut the Bluetooth interference and worked more with abusing his pickups with various objects.  Again a dense wall of sound was created, again it was cut back bringing this to a point of near total silence at this juncture.  A sine wave from Toshi wailed through this space as Keith ground his pickups with the Brillo pad and used the contact mic on his charcoal pencils as he drew a few characters on his pad. Again it fell to near silence, this piece was structurally dynamic and they were really working their full ranges.  A very low pitched stutter in this space, probably from Toshi, a hiss of static then things were brought to a conclusion.

and in the end
Keith and Toshi after the festival

They stood up and Keith thanked Jon and Yuko for putting on this incredible event and then us, the audience:  “The music doesn’t happen without you” and also the room. Which was well deserved, Kid Ailack Art Hall is a cramped tight black box but damn if this kind of music doesn’t sound amazing in it. The smallest details were revealed and the loudest attacks never turned into mush.  It reinforced sounds but didn’t just bounce them all over the place. A great room for this music and the musicians in this festival fully took advantage of it. Toshi then translated Keith’s words, perhaps adding some of his own and that was it, AMPLIFY 2008: light, was official over.

This festival was probably the single most successful event of this type I have attended.  The percentage of fantastic music was very high and even the sets that I didn’t think were entirely successful were incredibly fascinating. There was really only one set I’d say I didn’t like and even that had its moments.  Keith’s four sets were all amazing, as good of music as I’ve heard all year, or the last couple of years. It is not a surprise to me that Jon was willing to release all of these sets. The festival was ran impecciably with no issues seeming to impact any of the music or related events.

After each night of shows we’d head to the Book Cafe below the venue and drink wine, eat great food, and chat until the last train of the night.  This is a great tradition and something that really should be adapted outside of Japan.  I had great conversations with Keith, Jon, Toshi, Yamauchi, Mark, Joe and a number of other fans. I got to talk a little bit with most of the other musicians and members of the extended community. Truly a remarkable experience that was rewarding on so many levels.  I especially enjoyed all the time I got to spend with Keith, with whom I had breakfast every morning and shared many a walk and train ride with.  Additionally I highly enjoyed the time I got to spend with Jon and Yuko – it was great to be able to see them as much as I did. Finally sharing these shows and the uchiage with IHM friends Mark and Joe was all kinds of good times, something I hope happens more often.  So thanks to Jon and Yuko for bringing us this and thanks to all of the musicians for the fantastic music and extra-special thanks to Yuko for all the help in Japanese which my skills are non-existent.

see all of my  Amplify08 photos.

read all of my Amplify08 Reviews.

lightSeptember 19th
Erstwhile Records presents
AMPLIFY 2008: light day 1

Kid Ailack Art Hall, Meidaimae, Tokyo, Japan

The news was that a typhoon was hitting Japan and the remnants would make it to the Tokyo area this evening.  It’d been drizzly the day before but the forecast now was for serious amounts of rain but primarily after midnight tonight.  The day dawned overcast but still plenty warm and very humid. Keith had to head to the venue for soundcheck pretty early so after our (now traditional) breakfast and walk we parted ways. I headed to Shinjuku and spent the afternoon in the skyscraper district and Shinjuku Central Park. Soon enough it was time to head to the venue, which I’d been advised to arrive early on this day.  As I was already in Shinjuku I again simply took the Keio line to Meidaimae (which is the first stop on a special express).

biiruI arrived in Meidaimae about an hour early and as I was walking up the block I encountered Keith and Toshi coming the other way.  They were heading for a traditional soba restaurant and invited me along. I’d forgotten to get dinner (this happened more often then you’d think, my schedule being all messed up I’d get hungry at odd times and was always eating late or missing meals) and I couldn’t pass up this opportunity.  The soba place was fantastic, menu only in Japanese and Toshi helped us navigate through the many options.  We had an amazing sashimi plate to begin and then I had soba with fried tofu that was so much better then any other soba I’ve had. Getting near to show time we headed back to find the hall pretty crowded. Again Jon had saved me a seat up front which was again much appreciated.  Also in the audience was our man Joe Foster whom I totally failed to recognize at first do to the lack of his ‘stache.  I had enough time to check out the scene and the downstairs merch table before Jon and Yuko introduced the festival in English and Japanese.

Katsura Yamauchi solo
The opening set of the festival was not very surprising to those of us who had caught Yamauchi two days earlier.  Well it was surprising in that he once again followed exactly the same formula that I’d done that night.  Once again it was the hissy breathing sounds, the continuous hollow metallic tones broken up by the sharp inhalations, a couple of pauses, the empty keywork and so on.  It played out a little longer this time and there were several measurable gaps as he’d change between techniques.  Also this time the breathless keying seemed much more clearly to be an actual piece, one of his own or a jazz standard, being played without being vocalized.  At the end of this he began to put a tiny bit of air through the horn which is what made this more clear.

However after this improv (which was beginning to feeling quite familiar) he did two other shorter pieces.  The first was basically oscillating between two notes, played pretty loud. He hold each note for quite sometime creating a long droney feel that worked quite nicely in the room.  Pretty much right at the point where this would become overly long for what it was he stopped. Maybe ten minutes all told.  The final piece he did was a single, very high pitched tone on the sopranino played as loud as he could managed. This was incredibly intense and seemed to resonate at the rooms frequency. I got this effect in my inner ear that sounded similar to that wobbly low pitched wah-ing sound you get when you wave a thin sheet of metal.  Very short, probably no longer then five minutes, but powerful and a great way to end his set.

Keiths tables
Keith’s Table

Keith Rowe/Taku Unami
Keith was wearing his classic Rick Reed designed AMM shirt and Taku was wearing a Hose t-shirt which was an interesting coincidence that was like a commentary on this collaboration.  There was no set in this festival that I was anticipating higher as this collaboration had the most potential for greatness or disaster.  Unami is a wild card who has been involved in some of the best and some of the worst things I’ve heard in recent years.  I keep following him with high interest though as the degree of creativity, risk taking and willingness to destroy exceptions and convention are unprecedented. He has a playfulness that I never get from some of his collaborators that I think demonstrates that his is playing with expectations, not the audience.  Keith always rises to a challenge so how he would react and match Unami’s inherent unpredictability was certainly piquing my curiosity. Keith had his usual table of detritus, laptop and cubist guitar to which he had also added a new “guitar” this time made from a small neck that was used by classical guitarists to work on their fretwork. Unami had a laptop in front of which was a sandwich of two boards with various effectors attached to them. Small motors with various beaters, flails and whips attached to them and maybe small speakers as well.  He also had a mandolin and a double necked acoustic guitar on the floor below him.

The structure of this piece was super interesting, it was like swarms of events that would rise up out of a spaces or the textures of one or the other participants. Rowe used a lot of contact mic, short sharp metallic sounds, blue tooth chatter, swarms of buzzing feedback. Unami began almost right away with a rhythmic tock, tock, tock from a motor with little paddled beating on the wood it was mounted upon.  He would bring this various rhythmic sounds in and out layering them to disrupt their patterns and cutting them off at points that’d seem random but would either reinforce or eliminate stasis.  He would reach down and pluck notes on his acoustic guitar and it was the use of this that was the most startling.  Keith at least at one point responded with recognizable points from his guitar reinforcing the alienness of these sounds in this environment as opposed to seeming like any sort of call and response.  Other points of synchronicity would be the persistent swarms of buzzing that the Bluetooth interference creates with multiple clicks and tocks from Unami creating this post industrial cacophony of damaged mechanical devices.  Unami strummed a few chords on the mandolin but it was the bizarre double necked acoustic that he’d turn to over and over again always shocking in its entry but always perfect in its unexpectedness.  At one point he ran down maybe five of the strings in an open chords progression and at the end he violently strummed the guitar as the bulk of his motors frantically worked away creating a loud and dense wall of many sounds. Keith responded to this as well with sharp attacks on the pickups.

This set was unexpected, slippery in that its structure and elements are hard to hold in ones mind and absolutely brilliant. This was the most interesting bit of music I’ve witnessed in a long time, a collision of two of the most interesting musicians around pushing each other outside of any sort of routines and boundaries. The set is so difficult to recall in detail as it was filled with constant left turns, change ups and dense amounts of detail. All of these sounds were incredibly well placed into the room and there was many gaps and moments of calm.  It is great news that this will be put out on an ErstLive, it is some of the most exciting music I’ve seen in a long time.

Ami in her duo with Toshi
Ami Yoshida in duo with Toshimaru Nakamura


Ami Yoshida/Toshimaru Nakamura
When word of this collaboration first popped up on the forthcoming Erstwhile Records releases it was one of those,” why hasn’t this happened already?” moments. The fragmented soundworld of Ami Yoshida seemed like such a natural contrast to the layers of feedback and sonic detritus that makes up Toshimaru Nakamuras.  Thus getting a chance to see them in their first live meeting was nearly as highly anticipated by yours truly as the previous Rowe/Unami set. There’d been some news that Ami was a bit under the weather but she made it to the Hall for her set and produced probably the most intense performance of the four times I’ve seen her.

The set began tentatively with short guttural sounds from Ami met with short little cracks and pops of feedback from Toshi.  They didn’t really seem connected at this point, isolated sounds from the two of them not really connected to each other. Toshi seemed to be losing control of his feedback as well; working with this more isolated events there wasn’t the cover or control of the pure tones or white noise he’d been using in the days before. Rips of feedback would burst out and he’d quickly turn it down and start over. Ami, perhaps in response to this, increasingly used strangling sounds, gasps and near screams.  I’ve never heard her get as loud as she did in this set and especially toward the end there was some serious volume from some of her vocalizations.  Toshi began to work with more of his toolkit, utilizing pure tones at times, which usually gelled the most effectively with Ami’s micro events. But this forced inevitable thoughts of Cosmos and seemed like they were unable to connect with each others characteristic sounds. Lots of space in this set at one point some loud traffic sounds from the street outside being the most audible event. At times Toshi’s feedback would slip into its beating patterns, drowning Ami and reinforcing this disconnect as they traded off being in the forefront.  When they did gel it was powerful but it was only segments of this set interspersed with parts that just weren’t working.  The set concluded with loud near screams from Ami, a silence and then one last little tear of feedback from Toshi.

An interesting set, one that showed a lot of potential but that wasn’t a success in and of itself.  In general I liked a lot of Ami’s sounds and was really intrigued by the more violent nature of the sounds she emitted.  I think that Toshi had the harder task and I felt that the way he was trying to work with her was not conducive to how he uses his instrument.  It seems that using more continuous sounds as a base that Ami floats above is the easiest way to collaborate with her and I for one was hoping to see something else work.  Alas it was when Toshi fell into those patterns that this set seemed to work the best.  Perhaps to work with spikier sounds in collaboration with her you’d need something more controllable then mixer feedback.

The first night of Amplify 2008 was pretty fantastic. Sure not all of the music was something you’d want on a cd so you could listen over and over again, but for me that is hardly the point of seeing this music live.  Abstract music like this needs to be always experimenting always testing new ideas and that leads to things that don’t work or only partially work out.  The risk and the failures demand as much attention and provide their own rewards.  And much of the music tonight was amazing, the Rowe/Unami collab being the highlight, but those short pieces from Yamauchi were great and the moments when Ami and Toshi hooked up hinted at great things to come.  An exciting night. Oh and that typhoon pretty much came to nothing but a bit of rain and a some unimpressive wind.

see all of my  Amplify08 photos.

read all of my Amplify08 Reviews.

September 17th (Wednesday)
Katsura Yamauchi/Toshimaru Nakamura
Monnaka Tenjo Hall, Monzennakamachi, Tokyo.

izakayaMy first day in Japan was mostly devoted to travel and sleep though I did have a pleasant evenings nightcap with Keith Rowe at a little izakaya just down the road from our hotel.  This would actually be a pretty typical experience for my trip to Japan: there were no English speakers there but they were plenty happy to work things out by pointing and gestures. Thankfully beer in Japanese is biiru, so easy enough to stumble upon. We ended up with a couple of cold draft beers and a selection of tempura.  Our goal was to simply stay up late enough to try to go to bed in the Japan nighttime and it worked well enough.  Of course I did end up waking up around 5am and not really getting back to sleep.

Once day dawned I walked around Musashino City for a couple of hours checking out the surroundings which including several malls, a temple with a graveyard and a more traditional open shopping area. In the latter I found a Post Office which is one of the few places you are guaranteed to find an international cash machine. I was in need of cash so this was welcome.  Later I met Keith for breakfast followed by another walk around town. A short nap after that and it was time to meet Keith, Jon and Yuko for dinner followed by the first of two outside shows.  Dinner was at an excellent tonkatsu restaurant that Yuko recommended. Fantastic miso and while they stuck with the tonkatsu I enjoyed huge prawn katsu.


Monnaka Tenjo Hall

I had come to Japan primarily for Erstwhile Records Amplify 2008: Light, festival but prior to this fest was two nights of outside shows. Tonight’s show, not really associated with the festival but featuring two of its participants, was the only night at a different venue, Monnaka Tenjo Hall. This venue turned out to be an oddly shaped cement room on the 8th floor (IIRC) overlooking a freeway and some quality Tokyo street scenes. Decent sized and setup for theatre this was a nice room to see some live music.  The evenings program was Katsura Yamauchi and Toshimaru Nakamura in a classic solo, solo, duo format. Coming in with Jon and Keith I managed to avoid the cover charge: connections baby ;)

Television Power ElectricThere was a wide variety of merchandise spread out on a table in the back of the room, a collection of maybe 20 chairs and in the front Nakamura’s setup and on the floor Yamauchi’s saxes.  There wasn’t too much merch that I didn’t have barring a bunch of Yamauchi’s discs, but I wasn’t really familiar enough with his work to start acquiring those blind.  I did end up picking up a TV Pow/Toshimaru Nakamura collaboration that I didn’t have that came in beautiful homemade paper wrapping with an obi type binding holding it together. After a bit of time to allow stragglers in and to shift some merch there was an introduction and then Yamauchi came to the stage picked up his alto and began his solo set.

saxesHe began with this hollowed breathing sound, essentially blowing through the sax and even fingering at times but generating no recognizable sax like sounds. Of course for fans of abstract music these sounds were fairly recognizable and I would say in general his extended techniques were fairly routine. The question of course is how one uses them and he tended to stick with a technique for some time, exploring it at length before shifting to another one.  The whispery breathing sounds began to take on a bit of depth and as he approached perhaps the very edge of the more recognizable sax sound-world he generated this fantastic hollow metallic tone. He was in dire need of being able to circular breath as he’d take a deep breath through his nose and then generate a continuous sound for as long as he could and then gasp in more air.  This provided almost a rhythmic structure to this part but I think actual circular breathing would succeed better at the effect he was after.  Alas he only worked the metallic hollow sound for a couple of minutes and then moved to a keying the sax with no sound section. This was again quite rhythmic, almost as if he was playing some jazz standard or some such without any sound.  He concluded this piece by returning to the gentle hisses and rustling breathy tones he opened with.

After the applause he addressed the audience (all of this is of course in Japanese as Jon, Keith and myself were the only non-native speakers there) and then proceeded to play about five short pieces from his new cd, one of which he played on sopranino.  These turned out to be very traditional jazz sounding solo sax. Almost could have been a set of standards.  Very odd and unexpected for me.  Not my kind of thing really.

nimb
Toshimaru Nakamura’s setup

Immediately after the end of this set Toshimaru Nakamura moved to the stage, sat down and began to play. This was my first time seeing Nakamura solo (an event which would repeat tomorrow night) and was something I was definitely curious about. I’ve rarely been impressed with his solo recordings but with his recent impressive Dance Music, my expectations had shifted a bit. He began with white noise into which he’d intersperse ripping feedback.  Not overly aggressive but contrasting to the bed of static.  One of these however did become quite loud and upon this occurrence he cut everything out and silence fell. He allowed a decent interval, perhaps a minute or so, before he began dropping in electronic pops and crackles as you often hear in open circuit playing.  He built back up from this again, layering in the white noise and later a sine wave cutting though.  A return to the ripping feedback to conclude the set.  All of this occurred over maybe 15 minutes, perhaps less.

There was a break a this point which I for one used to run outside and find one of the ubiquitous vending machines and I bought a bottle of juice, which I downed immediately, and a bottle of water for later.  It was humid and I was always thirsty, so I count myself a big fan of Japan’s vending machine culture.  After a fifteen-twenty minute break the musicians took to the stage for their duo set.


Katsura Yamauchi/Toshimaru Nakamura

Yamauchi kicked off the set exactly as he had his solo set, with the dry hisses of air through the alto’s resonating chamber. He then proceeded in exactly the same structure, moving from the wind in the autumn leaves sound, to the the more continuous hollow sound reaching that long tones and gasps of air bit. Again that generated that neat metallic sound but it was odd to see him go through the same motions.  Of course there was also Nakamura adding an additional layer of sound to these events which after an initial pause were in the open circuit glitching territory.  These events were well applied pricks of contrasting sound to the windy sounds that Yamauchi was working with.  These coalesced into a more steady state sound that was mostly lost under Yamauchi’s rhythmic breathing/metallic sounds but were brought to the fore as Yamauchi abruptly stopped playing. This was my favorite moment of this piece, the sudden absence of his sound and a thin hiss and glitching pops and tears from Nakamura suddenly springing to the foreground.  Yamauchi paused for a nice stretch, perhaps expecting Nakamura to conclude but when he did not he moved on to the rhythmic key playing.  Nakamura brought up the volume at this point with rips and tears of feedback.  He cut this out, Yamauchi dropped out again and after a gap Nakamura played a single tone and then stopped ending the set.

I thought they were done at this point and began jotting down some notes as Yamauchi again spoke to the audience. But then he grabbed the sopranino and began playing one of his jazz pieces.  A coda of sorts I thought but then Nakamura began playing along with this. Bizarre.  Yamauchi is doing fast runs and trills and Nakamura just pops and glitches. But then Toshi begins to pick it up becoming louder and more aggressive with sharp bursts of feedback and static.  Rather like his playing on 13630 kHz from Between.  Yamauchi keeps up with his rapid, free jazzish runs but either reaching the end of the tune or just unable to compete with the electronics stops playing. Nakamura keeps it up for a bit and then cuts out the tears of feedback to reveal a continuous baseline tone. He lets this go for maybe a minute and then cuts it out ending this short followup piece.

Overall I wasn’t too impressed with this night of music.  Yamauchi I thought had some interesting sounds but I wasn’t really into the structure that he’d develop. I definitely wasn’t into his jazz playing, which of course one could say is a matter of taste but I tend to not seek out those kind of shows. Unexpected but interesting I guess to hear what his other work is like.  Nakamura’s solo was quite short and hence hard to really form much of an opinion on.  Again it seemed to not really have much structure. It felt like he setup some sounds and as he lost control of the feedback, cut it out and started over. This “second part” was more successful but it really just ran from soft and sparse to increasingly dense and louder. And of course it was really short, 5-10 minutes out of the whole performance.  The first piece of the duo was better, but would have been better still if there had not been the solos prior as the two of them basically were doing about the same things they had just done.  They didn’t seem connected at all, Yamauchi in particular just reprising the sequences from his solo and Nakamura falling right into the  comfortable accompanist role that marked some of his lesser collaborations from the previous year.  Then there was that bizarre final piece which honestly was the most surprising.  Yamaichi’s jazz piece obliterated by Nakamura’s electronics. It wasn’t at all good, but it was unexpected and different.

see all of my  Amplify08 photos.
read all of my Amplify08 Reviews.

Outside Shows

September 17th (Wednesday)

Katsura Yamauchi/Toshi Nakamura

Monnaka Tenjo Hall, Monzennakamachi, Tokyo.
7:30pm 2,000 yen.

September 18th (Thursday)
Toshimaru Nakamura

Kid Ailack Art Hall, Meidaimae, Tokyo.
8:00pm

Amplify 2008: Light

September 19 – 21, 2008

Kid Ailack Art Hall, Meidaimae, Tokyo, Japan

7pm, 3000 yen per night
Erstwhile Records
presents Amplify08

September 19th (Friday)
Katsura Yamauchi solo

Keith Rowe/Taku Unami

Ami Yoshida/Toshimaru Nakamura

September 20th (Saturday)
Mitsuhiro Yoshimura solo

Sachiko M solo (contact mike only)

Keith Rowe solo

September 21st (Sunday)
Keith Rowe/Sachiko M

Katsura Yamauchi/Mitsuhiro Yoshimura

Keith Rowe/Toshimaru Nakamura

I’m off to Japan for almost two weeks, to see the above shows and to finally visit a country I’ve wanted to visit for ages.  So there’ll be no posts here for a while, but expect reports on the shows and travel experiences upon my return. If any of my readers are going to be attending any of these shows, say hi. I’ll be the guy in the hat. For more info on the festival go to Erstwhile Records Amplify08 page.