Sunday, July 31, 2016

New Nambu (15) "Me and Minor 1"


Though I think most of people who are reading this article could not come, but there was the event organized by Deadstock Records at Pikopikocafe in Kichijoji on May 29 th this year(2016). The event name was “Listen to Japanese extreme music ~Never Ending Kichijoji Minor & The Fifth Column”, the content was listening to mainly sound sources recorded at ”Minor”, the venue in Kichijoji which existed from 1978 to 1980.

Three member including Onnyk (me), Geso and Satoshi Sonoda brought sound sources at Minor and exposed a lot of flyers and free magazines those days. I and Geso have acted together under the name of The Fifth Column and released Box Sets recently. Mr. Sonoda organized “Free Music Space”, the series of concerts where various performers appeared some places in Tokyo later 1970’s. Harumi Yamazeki came to the event and talked, and he added information on some recordings, I felt very fast four hours have passed. I won’t report about the event again. However, I will only express the thoughts that I couldn’t talk at that time.
The year I started musical activity with my friends as The fifth column is around 1976. It was 1979 that “Minor” began a business. I can say the age of struggling music was transition period in Japan. Punk or Techno was in fashion and they were separated into fractions by regions, parties or styles. Independent labels called “Indies” sprang up like “bamboo erupts after a rain” (It’s a stereotype expression in Japanese). In Japan, modern jazz became popular in 1960’s and free jazz reared up in later 60’s. There were a group of musicians claimed anti-establishment and believed in radical sounds. That is, they would never be interested in entertainment.

I think Masayuki Takayanagi was a typical. I can say he expressed music as Ressentiment (anger). Also in the 1960s the hedonistic rock aimed hippisim was beaten in quality and quantity a more pleasant new style (it looks like promotion of idols) produced by mass media, the 1970s it was going to take a commercialism or survive in the underground.

For example I applied Mopps in the first case and Yuya Uchida in the later case. How was the movement of avant-garde or experimental music apart from these streamline? In 1970, Osaka World Expo, those abortive flowers bloomed, but after full bloom they were tapering. The 60’s avant-garde was a world of composers based on academic school ( Takemitsu, Mayuzumi and Ichiyanagi as representatives). Musicians who has the new left- wing consciousness against them appeared. An elite, Ryuichi Sakamoto who organized cutting-edge musical groups and was called around people he did the most radical saying and doing createed the group called “ Gakusyuudan (Learning Group) ”.

This was a group including various artists who were non musician. Perhaps, he might be inspired by “Scratch Orchestra”by Cornelius Cardew, an UK composer. The magazine called “Douzidaiongaku ( Music of our time )“, was published by Kenichi Takeda and his colleague. Takeda, a Taisho Koto performer, released a critic book “Music wriggled in the ground” recently. “Douzidaiongaku“ suggested the these, propaganda or methods and so on. In those texts, you can see Sakamoto who was radical and posed a fight against the establishment. However, Sakamoto changed his way completely soon after YMO succeed.

Kenichi Takeda who appeared at Minor many times, reminded those days as a close friend of Sakamoto before YMO’s success. A producer of a masterpiece “Disapointment Hateruma”is also Kenichi Takeda. It was
 co-performed by Sakamoto and a percussionist Toshiyuki Tsuchitori (Tsuchitori was playing with Toshinori Konco etc., then he went to US to be taught by Milford Graves, a one of pioneer of free jazz drumming, and traveled around the world to learn various percussions. He came up big as music director Peter Brook Company, returning Japan he played, researched, composed and recorded based on Jomon culture. He had continued to co-work with a Shamisen player of Momoyoma fraction, until Harue Momoyama died.) Yoshitaka Gotoh who fought with Takeda and Sakamoto established a unique label “Pass” under Trio Records and they realized a collaboration between Sakamoto and Phew who was a leader of very popular group at that time,“Aunt Sally”. 

Phew appeared on each medium as a opinion leader with Machizou Machida of INU ( Later, Kou Machida) who was paid attention in Kansai in the changing time from later 70’s to 80’s. A former member of Japanese communist party, an activist, a writer. a poet and a son of a noble Seizi Tsutsumi became a leader of Saison Group and produced “youth culture” which represented Parco. Everyone took into Seibu’s strategies.consciously or unconsciously. Nam Jun Pike who cut necktie of John Cage, Jospeh Beuys who said “Capitalism will finish soon” were also the puppet of such stream. The price value of a rebellious artists group“ Fluxus ” soared. It aimed Bubble economy in that age.

When I felt gloomy in the country of Tohoku Region in the middle of 70’s, “Improvisation~Free Music” appeared like revelation. As Derek Baily or Han Bennink Records, if I say more concrete. Honestly, I knew nothing about the reviews of such musicians by Akira Aida or someone. It was case that I could call a coincidental encounter. Their style and the idea of“Non idiomatic improvisation” grew up in my mind. It was very personal but it seemed to grew up as ”Response to free jazz from Europe” worldly.

I thought that Free Music is defined as the one had the distance to Jazz, Rock, Contemporary Compositions or any kind of the ethnic musics, not regarded its origin, and should be played as depending on the wills of performers or the belief among co- performers. We can’t help doing that. I thought it “Ultimate Music”. But, was it Music basically? It was important that it based on individualism and democracy in European, and it was definitely different form “ free jazz as musical expression of Afro-American’s fighting idea to the system ” or “Japanese style which imitate a surface of free jazz”. This is the reason I must called Japanese free jazz “False Free Jazz”. But, I won’t trivialize it.

Japanese free jazz was not born of race discrimination, civil rights struggle, exploitation of jazz musicians or crushing situation. Also, it was not born out of the origin regression consciousness of black music (even if it may be a kind of illusion). Japanese free jazz has been accepted as a style more than anything. So, rather than free jazz, free music could be fitted with the situation in Japan beyond Europe. Many of European free music promoters were musicians who“had learned” jazz or classic, because they were serious to complete music as Music.

It may be said that "Japanese jazz performers are serious too!" However, the level of the orchestral performance based on European classical knowledge, even in amateurs, but in amateur level it is in a completely different class from Japanese ones (as you must remember that so-called “classical music”’s origin is the ethnic music of Western europe). In that sense, I think that the omnivorousness of Japanese amateurs was consistent with the borderless of free music. However, from the viewpoint that free music originating in Western Europe had an ethnic base of so-called individualism and democracy, it can not be said that Japan had eurocentric individualism and democracy. More than anything, the economic situation of Japan was good at making medium absorbing and distributing the world's music culture. In other words. Japan was transformed into a crucible of music of the world, temporal and synchronous music. That was the latter half of the 1970s, and it was the background of "minor" being born. (cont'd)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Listen to Japanese extreme music ~Never-ending Kichijoji Minor and The Fifth Column~

【Date/Time】May 29th(Sun) 1:30PM start
【Venue】Pico Pico Cafe Kichijoji
【Selection of music/Talk】Onnyk, Geso (The Fifth Column) and more...

Kichikoji Minor, the legendary live spot where is still veiled in mystery. Members of the avant-garde unit,
The Fifth Column who had played in Minor will talk about Minor and they will play treasured sound sources which weren't sold in the general market. If you don't know Minor, I recommend you read the running article New Nambu written by Onnyk. (Produced by Deadstock Records)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Nambu(12) "All of us were stupid"


<It was the era of printed media>

 In 2014, a book titled “The 20 th century editorial odyssey ~historical magazines” (Akata Yuichi + Barubora, Pub: Seibundoshinkou-sha) was published. The book summed up magazine before internet from US underground magazines in 1970’s and Japanese “mini-comi” which was explosively increased in 1980’s. 

Furthermore, they reviewed the style of subculture showed in so called “Bini-bon” (pornographic magazine in a plastic) and various magazines sold by the bending machines. The interview of the fifth column was included in some of them. “Bini-bon” was photographic magazine wrapped by vinyl which genital was revealed, so we were pleased. They were mainly sold at vending machines. Why did they get into sub-culture? They published not only porn photos but also music, books and movies’ reviews in the underground scene.

<Vending machine magazines as the strategy>

Things related Pornographic has already established industry and such demand never fade. New media has been spread by pornographic in first since middle ages. Pre-activists who published such magazines at small publishers quickly found the possibility of “Bini-bon” as new media. “The 20 th century odyssey ~historical magazines” introduced famous magazines on such stream. For example, “Jam”, “Chris”, “Heaven”. We, members of the fifth column wrote on such magazine.

Late Toshiharu Oosato, a original member of legendary “Gaseneta” and became a professor of famous university, a late dilettante, Hirohito Koyama, and very smart critic, Ken’ichi Takeda a leader of revolutionary rock band “A-Musik”, and people in various field also wrote. I’d like to introduce Takuya Sakaguchi who lives in Osaka and introduces or ciritic underground music now. A pen name is 科補 or科伏 (Synapse). Because he specializes in physiology. He has precisely introduced LAFMS (Los Angels free music society) since mid 70’s. When I knew the existence of this group, I was shocked. 

You can’t say they birth the fifth column, but they boosted us. “Oh, There were guys who played such thing overseas”, we were pleased since we started to play improvisation like the fifth column tape. I can’t explain them in a word. Crazy. Members of LAFMS weren’t clear and everyone is pretty unique. Like a band , “Smegma” (you know what it means?),. And Joe Potts, Fredric Nielsen, John Duncan and so on. John was in Japan for a while. Actually, person who introduced me LAFMS and lent me their record in first was Kenichi Takeda. His review on LAFMS was pubished in a magazine called “Jazz” (then it changed the name “JAZZ MAGAZINE”). This magazine was also interesting and they dealt with information about overseas free music, improvisation, avant-garde music. Late Akira Aida s regular articles, and strange reviews of Enka (one of traditional and popular Japanese songs, not folksong) were included. 

They didn’t deal articles about audio devices. It was very usual that music magazines always had the articles of them. Just returned to Mr. Sakaguchi , he wrote the research on “noise” related magazine and organized concerts and continued to critique on a magazine called “G-modern”(not exit now) published by Modern music. 

<The early Fifth Column or it’s peak?>

 In fact, Mr.Sakaguchi introduced my work to the world. So, I’m in debt to him even now. When we started the fifth column tape, We didn’t think to play only improvisation. There were versatile people around us like a poet, Shohachirou Takahasi, the synth or electronic instruments players, a SSW, rock musician (e.g. Bide), a performer, an artist, and so on. It was first trial that we edited a series of cassettes, made of sound sources offered from such various field of people and created . More accurately, before that time we created a cassette which the fifth column members gathered at my house and play improvisation in confusion to join FMS (Free Music Space) organized by Satoshi Sonoda in Tokyo.

“GAP”, “EVENT=ACCIDENT7711”, “Ka Chi Fu Sui”, “Eran Mare”, “Vibration Society”(by Keiji Haino and Ken’ichi Takeda and so on), “Gaseneta”, “Totsuzen Danball”, “Hikashu” also played at FMS. Against such great guys, ,members of the fifth column hardly played instruments and we couldn’t understand how to use synthesizer, if we had. When we played percussion, these were empty cans empty bottles, some cardboard boxes hit by chopsticks. Of course, we didn’t know John Cage’s “Credo in us” or “Flying Lizards”. Really, I come to know that creativity is born in such poorness after that. 

Actually, the fifth column and LAFMS in the early era are also absolutely interesting rather than the recent era when I listen to their whole work compiled for a few decades. High-impact. I will write what may be trivial. There was Vladimir Jankélévitch, an performer and a philosopher. What is wrote on his book, “L'Ironie (Mind of irony)”. “Adults are consciousness of young people, consciousness is overlooking world.” 

I ‘d like to rewrite “Young people is unconsciousness of adults, unconsciousness is stubborn.” in reverse. Well, I’ve always thought so. Young people or children are stubborn and they won’t take distance and time about what they want to do, rough and they take the plunge. They are just pure and have no consideration about their motive. In a word, stupid. So, when I look back my own result later, I‘m surprised. “Why could we do such thing?” There are a lot of things only stupid guys can do. Stupidity and poverty is the most creative conditions, I think. 

I wrote we had no instrumentals, but we only had microphones and effectors and tape recorders. So, we tried various experiences, “voice” is materials we used the most. Finally, there was voice in the first, and it will be surprising material forever. But, we wanted instrumentals at that time. Why did we suddenly have the synthesizer? Because, we forcibly owed from our acquaintance. Did we think we could make any music only by that? No. Using it, we frequently thought “This is so lame.“ 

There was a guy called Mr. Kodama, studying at the engineering department, we frequently played together, and he was good at dealing with machines. I didn’t know why, but he had two reel to reel tape recorders. I was so glad when I knew it. That is, we could record our work with very long delay system which Brian Eno used in his “Discreet music”. Being crawled tape in a whole room, we made about some meter long delay. It was actually heavy work, and If howling become too strong, it’s like wave of the sound. Piling the muffled sound steadily, It made me feel so terrific. Such recordings we played improvisation at particular circumstances remains, and “The fifth column box 1976-2010 (3CDs+1DVD)” (released in 2013, distributed by YOUTH) includes it. 

This was a part of project called “The fifth column week” that we were playing for a week running at “Hokuten Garo”, a rental gallery in Morioka City, in 1979. There were various things on this project “The fifth column week”, for example a public practice of a drama, a solo live of the sitar, a meditation workshop. Participants are from Morioka, Tokyo and Kyoto and so on, about dozen poets also joined. I’d like to explain this project someday.

 < “My first instrument is a tape recorder” ( a word by Brian Eno) > 

Except improvisation, my favorite music were three solo albums of early Eno and his “Obscure records”.And, Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, This Heat, Pop Group, Chrome, Faust, CAN and Neu! of Kraut Rock, like that. I wanted to play like them. I liked Neu! However, I had no members together. Guys who played improvisation with me didn’t have no interest in playing rock . I want to mix experimental soundings and methods with rock. All above bands are so, aren’t they? I would do by myself. I had two cheap cassette decks to copy to spread the fifth column tapes. ( I was so surprised that these were sold on the web. We never sold any of our cassette, but copied for someone who wanted to listen to. ) 

I used them to make my own rock, in first, I recorded “rhythm machine” by distorting with effectors and was playing the electric guitar instead of the bass simultaneously and recorded via on-line together. Playing that pre-recorded cassette, I also recorded the part of the guitar or the sax with effectors together. I recorded with line, or I used microphone on another occasion. I was piling up my recording. In this process, earlier recording layers became unclear, but it strangely generated depth or perspective. I changed the sound of tape piled up to some extent with effectors.  

“Rock Magazine” was an influential underground music magazine in the center of Osaka at that time. The chief editor was Yuzuru Agi. Harumi Yamazaki also wrote to this magazine. He become famous as “Gaseneta” or “TAKO” later. In Tokyo, Masashi Kitamura edited “Fool’s Mate”, as the fan-zine of VDGG, and acquired a lot of readers. Kitamura formed a band YBO2 later and they become popular. Kitamura also come to Morioka to play a gig alone, he stayed away after that. Minor magazines such as “Zoo”, “Doll”, or “Change 2000” (edited by Sachiho Kojima of Zelda) come to be known. These were just a part of magazines. So, please buy the book which I mentioned at the top of this article, if you are interested.

 I heard the rumor that “Rock Magazine” in Osaka planed to make a compilation album which they gathered new music in Japan after punk. I didn’t know what and how the things were going because I didn’t have the magazine then. Kansai was far from me. Those days, we were asked to write something on the book of a vending machine. The fifth column was asked from a magazine “Chris” through Ken’ichi Takeda. The editor was Shinichi Arai, called “Arashin”, who have been active as performer. I or Geso Fujimoto wrote proudly music or performance. We were glad. We were also asked from a magazine called “DOZIDAI ONGAKU (Music of our age)” edited by Mr. Takeda and his colleagues. 

Every the fifth column member sat that time cheerfully filled in two pages by insane layout. I guess you can’t do this by a current PC because we made by hands at all. This is similar with Pinakoteka Records. Well, Pinakoteka Records appear at last. But I will get back a little. I mean, I came to think how I would spread not improvisation but my rock-like music. I consider this is different from improvisation. 

I wondered this was so-called “alternative music” and “industrial music”. This word, “industrial” is used even now sometimes, guys of Throbbing Gristle and the boss of Genesis P-Oridge began to say it, I guess. Industrial may be “The industrial structure which produces the death” as Genesis said. So, CI of their label, “industrial records” is what they made photos of incinerators in Auschwitz rough. 

I copied rock-like music by myself and send them to my acquaintance. Geso Fujimoto had an interest soon. Then, Takashi Sato at “Minor,” a den of thieves in Kichijoji. Mr. Sato talked me by a phone “In fact, I think I will finish Minor. And I will establish a record company. If you like, can you join to my plan with your work in that series?” I was very pleased. I also sent Jojo Hiroshige of my acquaintance. He said you should make Mr. Takuya Sakaguhi listened to your work. He might tell me “Rock Magazine” had a plan to make a compilation. 

I had read a review of various music by Mr.Sakaguchi on the vending machine magazine, JAM. I received a response from him after a while, “Please let me permit because I introduce new Japanese music to foreign countries all at once.” He sent cassettes of unknown and interesting bands or artists in Japan and overseas at that time.

After Mr. Sakaguchi spread my work to foreign countries, Ptose Production in France reacted soon. They were PPP as a band name, but they planed to sell international compilation cassettes as a label, they said they’d like to make my work joined. One track of my work was recorded in a first compilation cassettes called “Assenbree Generale” and was released. I named Anode/Cathode at the first time.

However, a woman who gave her name the editorial department of “rock magazine” called me up and she said“we’d like to use your piece.” Then, I asked her what song and how would that be used. She seemed to accept it. But, this call was the first and the last. Although I wondered how was going, and someone had said me that “Your performance is joined by wrong name in the compilation released from Rock Magazine“. I was so surprised. 

Because I didn’t know the compilation was completed and usually a label sent a sample to participants. I wrote a letter to them, but no response. It might be the record called “Musics”, I thought “Oh, my name is wrong” with glancing the ad, but I haven’t held the record even now. I heard they selected the same song that PTOSE’s choice. How irresponsible they were! (Cont’d)

Wednesday, September 9, 2015