34 35th St., Unit 26, Brooklyn, NY, 11232
Osada Genki, a physicist turned painter and ambient noise artist, creates highly textural, abstract audiovisual paintings using snippets of altered video — often of human faces and forms — smothered under thick layers of kaleidoscopic digital glitchiness and wrapped in lush, gritty soundscapes.
The Wire 300: Alan Cummings on the origins of the Tokyo underground sound
This trope is particularly apparent in the genesis of the Tokyo underground sound best associated with the PSF label. While groups like Fushitsusha, High Rise, Kousokuya, Ché-SHIZU and Maher Shalal Hash Baz only began reaching Western ears in the early 90s, their sonic strategies were formulated a good decade earlier. Pivotal in the development of the Tokyo underground sound was Minor, a tiny, cold live space in the Western suburb of Kichijoji, 20 minutes by train out of Shinjuku. Incongruously located on the third floor of a mixed-use building in Kichijoji’s red-light district, for two and a half years from 1978 to September 1980, Minor served as the crucible for the creation of a new Tokyo music. Minor began life as a more or less conventional jazu kissa (jazz coffee house) – a hangout for students and wannabe intellectuals, invariably equipped with an expensive stereo and a huge library of jazz records. Its proprietor was a frustrated painter and free jazz pianist called Takafumi Sato. But gradually the tablecloths and menus disappeared, to be followed by the tables and chairs as Minor transformed itself into a bare walled live space with a freewheeling booking policy. Minor situated itself in an interzone both geographically and chronologically, half between the hippy 70s underground rock scene that clung on further west, and the newly emerged punk sound of groups like Friction, Mirrors and Lizard who were associated with live spaces further east in Shinjuku and Roppongi.
Underground heads like Masashi Kitamura, editor of Fool’s Mate magazine and later founder of the heavy rock group YBO2, held record parties where he would spin European Prog rock. Saxophonist Tamio Shiraishi booked the Aiyoku Jinmin Juji Gekijo (Ten O’Clock Theatre of the Lust People) series of events, kicking off daily at 10pm. The space, cheap prices and laissez faire booking policy attracted misfits from across Tokyo, those who couldn’t or wouldn’t conform to the stylistic demands of the city’s multiple other scenes. The result was that it became a gathering ground for refuseniks of all stripes, a space in which anything went, no matter how amateur, inept, aggressive or just plain weird. A glance at the few surviving gig lists at Minor provides a glimpse of just how cross-genre it was - and how crucial in the creation of the Tokyo underground sound. Free jazz heads like Tamio Shiraishi, Motoharu Yoshizawa and Tori Kudo, outlaw punks like Michio Kadotani, Gaseneta and Honeymoons, and free Improv/unclassifiable types like Keiji Haino, Chie Mukai, Ken’ichi Takeda and Toshi Tanaka were all regulars. The creative ferment threw up large, ad-hoc free Improv workshop groups like The Vedda Music Workshop, Factory or Sighing-P Orchestra, as well as a stream of small, incestuous groups such as Noise, Kyoaku no Intentions, Taco or Kousokuya that tried to weld Improv, psychedelic rock, primitive electronics and No Wave into some kind of emotionally meaningful amalgam. Tori Kudo remembers the music created at Minor as coming from an absolute zero – “The sounds we created there had absolutely no musical potential. We were always starting from somewhere below the proper starting point for music. Normally that would be zero, but at Minor somehow we always seemed to be starting from minus. If playing three notes of a scale would be 0.01, no one at Minor ever got that far. But it was the only place we could play.”
Hearing the results of these experiments ten years down the line in the late 80s and early 90s was a dislocating experience for many Western listeners. The dislocation lay in hearing the familiar tropes of Western psychedelic rock, punk, free jazz and collective improvisation borrowed and turned to entirely other purposes. The Japanese take on these sounds seemed to suggest the exciting possibility of new syncretic forms, ones that admitted no contradiction in allaying the structural and performance strategies of free jazz and free improvisation with the dynamics and aesthetics of rock. And like reading any alternative history, this music raised intriguing questions. Why shouldn’t riff-based composition and improvisational structure co-exist? Why shouldn’t distortion be used as a textural tool?
If much of the Tokyo underground sound was driven by an obsessive love of rock and a strong belief in its validity as an ongoing aesthetic choice, misreadings and misapprehensions too played their part. Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple, for one, has spoken of understanding Pete Townshend’s wind-milling right arm not as an occasional piece of grandstanding but as his normal approach to playing. The Japanese musicians’ isolation from the socio-cultural background of the music they loved also seems to have played a part. Appreciation and understanding of rock music, particularly in the generation of Japanese underground musicians who grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, was a hard-won prize, based on close listening, intensive thought, and the creation of personal rock narratives. Many of these musicians display a sensitivity to purely musical nuance - rather than the trite mythmaking that Western rock journalism seems to have created. It’s the sound and effect of Syd Barrett’s rhythm guitar playing that’s important, not the retelling of yet another crazy diamond drug loon story.
Complaints from neighbours and the police finally put paid to Minor in September 1980. The musicians eventually found new spaces in which to play – Goodman, Gyati, Hakkyo no Yoru, and Takafumi Sato would go on to start the Pinakotheca label which released Keiji Haino’s first solo album and the Aiyoku Jinmin Juji Gekijo compilation LP documenting the Minor scene. But that tenacious sense of syncretic creativity unleashed at Minor has continued to drive the Tokyo underground sound.
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Great to see another phone with an alternative energy source.
Kyocera Concept Phon
The Kyocera mark has just presented this concept of telephone with foldable screen OLED in three parts a such wallet. Equipped with a keyboard, backlighted buttons and entirely propelled by the kinetic energy. More images of the project in the continuation.
NICK CAVE SOUNDSUITS, WOW.
Nick Cave’s Soundsuits are physical manifestations of his energy. He has said, ‘I believe that the familiar must move towards the fantastic. I want to evoke feelings that are unnamed, that aren’t realized except in dreams.’
More info and pictures after the jump:
Cave explores and reiterates cultural, ritualistic and ceremonial concepts. Concurrently, his focus on the connotations of materials as a way to construct narratives, coupled with the fact that the wearer is at times completely concealed, allows the work to transcend preconceived notions of class, race, and sexuality. Cave, who studied fiber arts at the Cranbrook Academy of Art, is Associate Professor and Chairman of the Fashion Department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
April 18th, 2009
Here’s a selection of projects by architect Peter Zumthor, who was named 2009 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate earlier this week (see our previous story).
Captions are from Peter Zumthor. Above photo by Walter Mair.
Above: Brother Klaus Field Chapel, 2007
Wachendorf, Eifel, Germany
The ﬁeld chapel dedicated to Swiss Saint Nicholas von der Flüe (1417–1487), known as Brother Klaus, was commissioned by farmer Hermann-Josef Scheidtweiler and his wife Trudel and largely constructed by them, with the help of friends, acquaintances and craftsmen on one of their ﬁelds above the village. Photos above and below by Pietro Savorelli.
The interior of the chapel room was formed out of 112 tree trunks, which were conﬁgured like a tent. In twenty-four working days, layer after layer of concrete, each layer 50 cm thick, was poured and rammed around the tent-like structure.
In the autumn of 2006, a special smouldering ﬁre was kept burning for three weeks inside the log tent, after which time the tree trunks were dry and could easily be removed from the concrete shell.
The chapel ﬂoor was covered with lead, which was melted on site in a crucible and manually ladled onto the ﬂoor. The bronze relief ﬁgure in the chapel is by sculptor Hans Josephsohn.
Can you get any geekier than Bohemian Rhapsody played by an orchestra of vintage gadgets? I think not. From the YouTube page:
Please note no effects or sampling was used. What you see is what you hear (does that even make sense?)
Atari 800XL was used for the lead piano/organ sound
Texas Instruments TI-99/4a as lead guitar
8 Inch Floppy Disk as Bass
3.5 inch Harddrive as the gong
HP ScanJet 3C was used for all vocals. Please note I had to record the HP scanner 4 seperate times for each voice. I tried to buy 4 HP scanners but for some reason sellers on E-Bay expect you to pay $80-$100, I got mine for $30.
I wonder if it takes requests? -via Arbroath
A pair of giant robotic spiders designed and built by French performance art group La Machine have come to Yokohama to take part in the upcoming Expo Y150, a 5-month festival commemorating the 150th anniversary of the opening of the city’s port.
Although the Expo Y150 festivities are not scheduled to officially begin until the end of April, the enormous steampunk spiders could be seen prowling the Yokohama waterfront this weekend.
Here is some superb video of the spectacle on Friday (April 17) night, when one of the 12-meter (40-ft) tall, 37-ton mechanical spiders was observed in the red brick warehouse area of Yokohama — far from its natural habitat of Nantes, France.
On Saturday (April 18) evening, one of the mechanical spiders performed a water dance at Shinko Pier while the other looked on from its perch atop a nearby shipping container. For the performance, the spider moved its mechanical legs and shot steam and water and from its mouth and rear end, while suspended over the water from a large crane. Water cannons, fog machines, lights and live atmospheric music added to the drama.
On Sunday (April 19), both spiders were scheduled to depart Shinko Pier, take a stroll up Nihon-Odori street, and head back to the red brick warehouse area.
La Machine’s giant spiders will be on public display at Expo Y150 from April 28 to September 27.
April 17: Sleep Dealer out in cinemas
Location: Los Angeles and New York
Sleep Dealer (by Eyebeam alum Alex Rivera) is a science-fiction, but has nothing do to with space aliens, or cops who shoot robots. It's a film of ideas, and it looks at the future from a perspective never seen before: from south of the border, looking at America from the outside. A.O. Scott of The New York Times says: SLEEP DEALER is "Exuberantly entertaining-a dystopian fable of globalization disguised as a science-fiction adventure … ." SLEEP DEALER is a thriller filled with lush visuals and big ideas about the future of war, immigration, the environment, and the border.
Go with a friend, or organize a group to support this film, and in the process support the idea of a more wild, diverse, and relevant cinema!
Last night we held a How To Apply - Eyebeam Residencies forum here in New York. I expected maybe 30 people, but over 100 showed up. It was a great chance for applicants to ask questions about the residency program. A lot of commonly raised issues were ironed out, with insights provided by recent Residency Curatorial Panelist Robert Ransick (Bennington College, Vermont) and current Eyebeam Senior Fellow Steve Lambert (Parsons/The New School and Hunter College). Thanks to them both, and Amanda, for taking the time out to help make the application process as clear as possible for everyone involved.