Experimental Tokyo | Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Experimental Tokyo 


The culture of technology in Japan has produced a deeply subversive counterculture that expresses itself best in sound. Pushing gadgetry to the hilt, a well-established underground of sonic extremists is hard at work recording electroacoustic music--taking turntable manipulation beyond its beat-bound hip-hop phase, discovering unplanned ways to use computer programs, and generally mixing up a tasty dead-tech hash. This attitude has an extensive genealogy that includes the late Masayuki "Jojo" Takayanagi, who treated the electric guitar as a pure sound device in the 60s, and today's generation of aural guerrillas is steadily widening in scope and population. Three young Tokyo-based audio artists--Yuko Nexus6 Kitamura, Satoru Wono, and Yasuhiro Ohtani--will assault Chicago for the first time in celebration of the release of Experimental Tokyo (IEL Records), a collection of pieces executive-produced by Chicago bassist Tatsu Aoki. In the process, they'll collaborate with local fellow travelers Eric Leonardson, Steve Barsotti, Carol Genetti, and Claude Willey. On record, the Tokyo contingent comes on very strong, incorporating aggressive mixing in the manner of Otomo Yoshihide (with whom both Ohtani and Wono have worked), intriguing found-sound field recordings, text fragments, and rough-hewn electronics. Wono's "Who Programs You" is the most immediately striking track, with vivid real-time improvised editing. Kitamura's piece "Osaka" mixes an underlying gong sample with rapid, cut-up vocal rhythms. But the 18-minute "Invisible Objects," by onetime Takayanagi student Ohtani, emerged as my favorite for its dirty, bumpy guitar noise, lengthy soundscapes, and nasty sampled punctuation. No word on how the East-meets-West encounter will be coordinated, but it should be interesting however it unfolds. Friday, 8 PM (Tokyo performers only), and Saturday, 7 PM (with Chicagoans), the Note, 1565 N. Milwaukee; 773-489-0011. JOHN CORBETT

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Uncredited photo of Yasuhiro Ohtani, and photo of Eric Leonardson by Arlene Walters.

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