concert review by Ioana Nica
Last autumn, Magasin 4 brought on stage an impressive number of artists of the Japanese contemporary music scene: Korekyojinn, KK Null, Ono Ryoko, Tatsuya Yoshida, Acid Mothers Temple. Tatsuya Yoshida (Ruins), Atsushi Tsuyama (Acid Mothers Temple), and Makoto Kawabata (Acid Mothers Temple) came back during a set of events celebrating 20 years of existence of Magasin 4. This time, under the brand of the Japanese New Music Festival.
The Japanese New Music Festival project started in 2003 after an idea of Tatsuya Yoshida. The concept: three protagonists multiplying themselves in no less than 8 different groups, playing either together or solo. And everything within 2 hours. An impressive line-up and at the same time a big challenge, one that was extremely well received in the previous 2010 European tour.
RUINS ALONE (Tatsuya Yoshida Solo)
Around 8pm, our three heroes come on stage to amusingly announce in chorus: “Welcome to Japanese New Music Festival! First act: Ruins Alone.” Tatsuya Yoshida was then left alone on stage, for his solo project of drums, computer and voice.
The man who was described by John Zorn as “indisputable master drummer of the Japanese underground” and made responsible by Eugene Chadbourne for “having spearheaded at least a half dozen of Japan’s most important groups” is a phenomenon in action behind his drum kit. The music is serious, complex and highly avant-garde free jazz style. Still, you get a feeling of the playfulness of a genius child. The rhythms take infinite possible directions, the precision is outstanding and the speed unimaginable.
Makoto Kawabata Solo
Ruins Alone finishes and the enthusiastic applauses are interrupted by (what will become the leitmotiv of the evening) announcement of “Welcome to Japanese New Music Festival!” Second act: Makoto Kawabata Solo.
A quote attributed to Kawabata goes like this: “Music, for me, is neither something that I create, nor a form of self-expression. All kinds of sounds exist everywhere around us, and my performances solely consist of picking up these sounds, like a radio tuner, and playing them so that people can hear them.” I’ve reproduced it here because I find it noteworthy for such a modest personality. Makoto Kawabata is the mastermind behind Acid Mothers Temple and its other variants, founding member and leader of the band, with a career spreading out for almost 40 years. His mini-recital was on special guitar with no end-neck on which he was shredding and polishing sounds using different other unconventional metallic tools, a bow or by simply playing it.
Atsushi Tsuyama Solo
The third act was the opportunity to see Atsushi Tsuyama’s other skills than his famously bass playing in Acid Mothers Temple. And there was a lot see and enjoy. He focused his performance on blowing instruments, playing them shortly in turns and then two at the same time. But there is more: he can not only play two woodwinds at the same time… He can play two woodwinds at the same time and do throat singing. Incredible positive attitude, always wearing a smile on his face and showing off a super funny sense of humor.
Psyche Bugyo (Tsuyama’s Psychedelic Judgement)
Once the solo parts are done, here comes the first act with all together. Psyche Bugyo is a project of Tsuyama, who takes the lead on the guitar. The music incorporates the progressive rock sound of the 70s and adds specific energy and signatures. Distorted guitar, ranting vocals, low-fi garage sound, blended folk elements and characteristic rhythms – it was like having a whole music lesson of the genre in 10 minutes.
Although Zoffy is a group formed by two members of Acid Mothers Temple, with Makoto Kawabata on the guitar and Atsushi Tsuyama on bass, it is nothing alike. Zoffy is, if you like, an unconventional cover band for songs of the European and US music scene. Although the term “cover” is not really accurate, the songs are practically reinvented. We heard “Smoke on the Water” like never before: played in the Napalm Death, Bob Dylan and AC/DC style. “Immigrant Song” was layered with Mongolian rhythms, throat singing and bow playing on the guitar.
Next duo and the 6th project of the evening, Akaten. One of the most advertised youtube clip for this Festival was the one in which Tatsuya Yoshida and Atsushi Tsuyama play … their pants zipper. Akaten is a project in which simple objects of everyday use (zippers, scissors, plastic bottles, a photo camera and tooth brushes) are used to produce sounds organized in different song themes. And by doing so, the two protagonists have an amusing conversation between them and their act on stage becomes a theatre performance.
Zubi Zuva X
Zubi Zuva X was announced in a comic way as the main act of the evening and brings once more all there actors together on stage to continue the theatrical experience of Akaten. This time, in an a capella recital which covered a whole range of music history from gospel to doo-wop, from choir to operetta, respecting the harmonies or going totally experimental and crazy. No instruments, only voice singing, pantomime and looots of humor.
Acid Mothers Temple SWR
Looking up in google for “Acid Mothers Temple” should come with a warning of unavoidable multiple results: Acid Mothers and the Melting Paraiso UFO, Acid Mothers Temple and the Mothers of Invasion, Acid Mothers Gong, Acid Mothers Temple and the Cosmic Inferno, Acid Mothers Temple and the Pink Lady Blues, Acid Mothers Guru Guru, Acid Mothers Temple Space Paranoid … and these are only some incarnations of Acid Mothers Temple collectives.
The most prolific and world known is the psychedelic offshoot Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO, which was present in Magasin 4 last year. The formula Acid Mothers Temple SWR (SWR being the acronym for Stone, Woman and Record) is a product of the collaborations during the born of the Japanese New Music Festival in 2003 and has Kawabata, Tsuyama and Yoshida as core members since then. This was the 8th and last permutation of the evening. SWR is somehow much more powerful and experimental then AMT, with Tatsuya Yoshida bringing the jazz component into the equation. Atsushi Tsuyama takes his place at the bass where he blows minds away and Makoto Kawabata does his wonders on the guitar, with of without using the bow on it. The sound level was raising by each minute. Despite the heaviness of the music, the end keeps the amusing drama note: everybody is crushing down the floor together with their instruments.
Ten points for combining music professionalism with a comic style. It was really an evening of high quality music and fun.
Full show of Japanese New Music Festival @ Jazzhouse, Copenhagen (12th of October 2014)
Reviews of Japanese artists in Magasin 4 Bruxelles, autumn 2013
“The Acid Mothers Temple show started unexpectedly with the guitarist founder Kawabata Makoto literally attacking his instrument in an attempt of filling up the air with solid particles coming from the destruction of his guitar. Shocking and loud, setting up the itinerary for the entire concert.”
“Kazuyuki Kishino, known as KK Null, is an excelling Japanese artist of the noise music scene. Born in 1961, active since the 80s, he owns an impressive career: more than 100 albums till now, live performances and collaborations with great artists including John Zorn, Fred Frith or Steve Albini, just to name a few, and supporting acts on tours for Sonic Youth and Mike Patton. His main instrument was for almost 30 years the guitar. But in the 90s, he started exploring the electronic territories where he becomes a master of transforming the improvised noise and extreme post-punk sound into art and poetry. Key words: cosmic noise maximal/minimalism.”
“It is never my case but I have to completely surrender to description of the band found on the official website: ‘The trio dance on razors, are sharp as a tack – and their overwhelming ability jettisons them into the outer limits – where progressive rock and contemporary jazz collide into a breathtaking, futuristic, hard rock funk.’”
“Ono Ryoko is a bachelor in Fine Arts, playing the saxophone for 15 years now and with an impressive list of collaborations: Tatsuya Yoshida, Psyche Bugyo, Acid Mother Temple, just to name a few, approaching styles like jazz, classical music, progressive rock, funk, hip-hop, rhythm & blues, once more just to name a few. In 2007 she formed her band – Ryorchestra and invented a new language to write lyrics – Language R. Her musical style comes in two words: powerful and sophisticated. Her recital was an insanely intense performance of circular blowing and multi-phonic sounds.”