New releases – October 2019

Aragorn23 – Selected modular atmospheres vol. 1 (digital, self-released)

South African composer and improviser Aragorn23 presents eleven algorithmic pieces for modular synthesizer.
As the title evokes it, the music is quite ambient and relaxing, each piece developing its own little world. While some pieces would remind of late 1970s and 1980s minimalist ambient music, others sound more contemporary. (cdrk)


Various artists – These Are Our Friends Too (digital, FORWARD)

A project worth to support !
“This album is brought to you by Musicians Unite to End FGM (MUTEFGM) and Tse Tse Fly Middle East. These Are Our Friends Too is a unique album that highlights the work FORWARD does towards ending FGM (female genital mutilation). The album continues FORWARD’s These Are Our Friends project, a collection of poetry from young people from London, Bristol, Manchester and Birmingham that responds to the themes of FGM and its consequences. The first stage of the project resulted in a book of the same name that features more than thirty pieces of work, a short film made with Media Trust, and this new collaboration sees nineteen of the poems re-imagined.

Tse Tse Fly Middle East hand-picked a selection of female artists and musicians, and each one was given a spoken word recording of one of the poems read by members of the FORWARD team and poets from the book. The artists then composed and recorded a sonic background for their designated piece, with the resulting spoken word and experimental music compositions making up this new, nineteen-track set, These Are Our Friends Too.

The album features contributions from some of the foremost female proponents of noise from Egypt, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Serbia, Bulgaria and Sweden, as well as UK-based collaborators. And the visceral, uncompromising and unsettling tracks that result reflect the disturbing nature of female genital mutilation.” (Tse Tse Fly Middle East)


Yan Jun & Bani Haykal – Rats in the bright southern sky (vinyl & digital, whereisthezeitgeist?editing office)

These tracks were recorded at NTU Centre for Contemporary Art Residency Studio, in Singapore by prolific composer, poet and organiser Yan Jun (no-input feedback and contact microphones) and Singaporean researcher and composer Bani Haykal (text, voice and coding), then edited by Yan Jun.
The result of this collaboration is an electroacoustic music album in which voice loops and experiments navigate between waves of noises and feedbacks ; high pitched tones and incidental sonic glitches remind of some Toshimaru Nakamura‘s No​-​Input Mixing Board works while Haykal’s voice brings new elements to this form of onkyokei. (cdrk)


H.Takahashi – Sonne und Wasser (vinyl & digital, Where To Now? Records)

Dreamy minimalistic ambient music at the age of new age, tiny melodies, slow tunes made in Tokyo.
Takahashi tells : “I wanted to express the plant that was slow, quiet, powerful, and full of vitality. In an attempt to express the world of one plant, the four songs that make up this album are all based on the first one, ‘Nymphaea’… The melody, chord and tone throughout become familiar, and each change of scene is expressed by subtly changing the arrangement and development of sounds. This is intended for when you want to feel like a plant, or as an indoor soundtrack – I want the music to be played so that it decorates the plants within a room.”


Ouwan Itaru – Conceptual Works  (digital, equnatrecord)

There’s Goh Lee Kwang in Malaysia who releases zillions of tracks per month and then Ouwan Itaru in Japan who releases an insane amount of tracks too.
Free improv noise, very wild drums, guitar, distortion and noise. (cdrk)


Goh Lee Kwang – OnTheNight (digital, self-released)

Long improvisation for electronic, hypnotic, somehow noisy but not on the harsh noise side. (cdrk)


Hiroyuki Ura – Ghost Note (tape & digital, Zoomin’ Night)

If you are familiar with solo drums compositions of Morihide Sawada, this might be of interest. Track one is a half an hour solo for snare, track two for cymbal.
Both minimalistic pieces are performed gently, unlike Ryosuke Kiyasu‘s wild performances for snare. (cdrk)


Yang Haisong – Fictional film music (tape & digital, Zoomin’ Night)

Very repetitive ambient experimentation by Chinese composer Yang Haisong.
“Yang Haisong is lead singer of P.K.14, one of the top legendary indie rock bands from China, and he is also the CEO of indie rock label Maybe Mars. Beside these main roles, he also has some side projects including Dear Eloise, After Argument, Blonde Eskimo, collaboration with Xie Yugang (Wang Wen), and his tiny label Share The Obstacles. Yang is a poet, a novelist, and also a music engineer/producer. His work could be found in many Chinese rock bands’ debut album. In these two or three years, Yang involved in some film music projects, but for this cassette album, it does not belong to anyone. In the recording, Yang talks about a fictional movie as while as real life’s concealing and uncertain.” (Zoomin’ Night)


Slikback & Hyph11E – Slip B (digital, SVBKVLT)

I’ve been following parts of the bass music and rhythmic electronic scene in China for a while now and the Kenyan one for a shorter time in the recent years too. I now and then thought that musically speaking there were connections between the work of several of those artists such as Zaliva-D (China) or Slikback (Kenya) for example. And here we go. Here’s a beat-oriented collaboration between Shangainese composer and dj Hyph11E and Nairobi based composer Slikback ! (cdrk)

“SVBKVLT invited Kenyan producer Slikback to China for a 3-week tour and residency in April 2019. During these 3 weeks, Slikback performed in 5 cities (Shenzhen, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Beijing), spending time in the studio with artists throughout the tour. The results of these studio sessions are now being presented in the form of two EPs, to be released simultaneously across the two labels Hakuna Kulala (Uganda) and SVBKVLT (China)”


Slikback / 33EMYBW / Osheyack / Yen Tech – Slip A (digital, Hakuna Kulala)

Released at the same time than Slikback & Hyph11E – Slip B, this release features three pieces of beat and bass music by Slikback & Yen Tech, Slikback & 33EMYBW, Slikback & Osheyack. The musicians started to compose the tracks in China and then finished remotely between Nairobi and Shanghai and present a nice mix of all these artists’s styles. (cdrk)


TENGGER – Shikoku (tape & digital, self-released)

Following a pilgrimage on Shikoku island, the South Korean-Japanese project delivers us a double cassette (contact them for ordering it) that, to my knowledge, doesn’t sound to any of their previous recordings. While the duo (Itta & Marqido) performed a mix of noise and psychedelic improvised music at its very beginning (back then called 10) and dived deeper into (partly electronic) psychedelic music, this new release first four tracks are made of field recordings of people (praying at a buddhist temple ?), bells and so on, pitched in some cases ; the five other ones are very minimalistic and meditative recordings of bells (I suppose tsurigane) and silence. (cdrk)


СРАНЪ & brokenchelust – Split (digital, self-released)

СРАНЪ, a Russian punk and grindcore project from Tolyatti, Russia shares this release with noisegrind artist brokenchelust from Baku, Azerbaijan.
Expect a lot of distorted sounds. (cdrk)


Rey Sapienz – Mushoro (tape & digital, Hakuna Kulala)

While Congolese artist Rey Sapienz tends to be hip hop oriented live, his second release on the Ugandan label introduces us to a lot of instrumental pieces (but a few sung tracks are also included, sometimes more sung than rapped), slow beats with various influences from mutant dancehall to electronica. This release could be a modern version of Noir et Blanc this electronic afropop gem published in 1983 by Hector Zazou, Bony Bikaye and CY1. (cdrk)


MC Yallah x Debmaster (tape & digital, Hakuna Kulala)

Amazing collaboration between Ugandan-born, Kenyan-based MC Yallah and French distorted hip hop composer Debmaster.
Live or in the studio, MC Yallah is simply amazing, her voice, flow and energy – it is only unfortunately I don’t understand Swahili ! The release explores distorted and industrial hip hop, as well as electro hip hop and bass music, dark deep and slow but heavy beats. (cdrk)


Yao Bobby & Simon Grab – Diamonds (vinyl & digital, Lavalava Records)

Togolese -Swiss collaboration by Yao Bobby and Simon Grab who have collaborated in Togo and Switzerland for 15 years and this release is a blast : industrial hip hop and that will change your view on dancehall, feedback and no-input mixing desk, distorted bass, political lyrics sung in French, English and Ewe. And the EP includes… two remixes by Asian Dub Foundation (yes, the 1990s band) member Dhangsha aka Dr Das and Churulian (who also joins them live for the best !). (cdrk)

New releases

 


Forests 森林 – Idol Collapse (vinyl, cassette, Lonely God)

“Left Hand Path presents the second full-length LP, IDOL COLLAPSE, from Forests 森林. Written by Jon Du, Kuo-Hung Tseng, and Zun Long in Taipei, Taiwan. Eight songs in 36 minutes that unfurl like a flower and expand like a mushroom cloud, designed for utter osmosis and total absorption. The helix twists; the loop is closed. The cycle begins anew”

For fan of old school industrial (metal percussions, electronics, guitar, bass, voice) with a tiny SPK and Last Dominion Lost influence, especially on the great track Non-marginal. I release not to be missed !

“Left Hand Path 推出「Forests 森林」第二張黑膠專輯「IDOL COLLAPSE」,收錄Jon Du、國宏及尊龍共同創作,總長 36 分鐘的八首曲目。想像凝視著一朵正在綻放的花,在你回神意識到時已開展成鋪天蓋地的蘑菇雲,這是張有意識地滲透聽者每一絲神經的專輯,既是捻捆的雙螺旋、閉鎖的迴圈,又在每次輪迴產出新聲。”


Pupa – Lies (cassette & digital, Ujikaji Records)

“PUPA is a cooperative of two: Jun and Zeek, names to place in action bubbles in a hypnagogic, homoerotic episode of Batman (and his Boy Wonder) starring Adam West; boys with their toys electronic, ringing the body electric.

The music on Lies has a fuzzy temporality, conjuring an electronica that could have come from 1998 as it could 2018. But if ’90s electronica – growing alongside the early days of the  internet – was a dream of the future rife with utopian possibilities, the music in Lies seems instead to commemorate a laundry list of unrealised dreams. In sound and mood, Pupa are fellow travellers with artists like Boards of Canada, The Caretaker and William Basinski. Lies moves at a ponderous pace, as if surveying the wreckage of time caused by everything that has prevented the promised technological utopia. Tape loops underscore the passing of time as uncluttered elements build with the subtlest of shifts. Tape loops re-released on tape, the Basinsking of the Titanic, repeat a lie enough times and it becomes…”


Xiang – Gateway 出入口 (digital, self-released & Prajnasonic/Atmos)

Chinese composer Xiang presents five minimalistic compositions made of vocal samples, field recordings taken in various locations in France and China, and analogue synthesizer (performed by John Richards and Max Wainwright). The result is a very beautiful cinematic composition that flirts with dark ambient (without the usual clichés), noise drones and industrial music (without current the distorted techno beats trend).


Teenage Granny – Glossolalia (The Harsh Sounds of the Internet)  (cassette & digital, Gerpfast Record)

Filipino electronic artist Teenage Granny got a physical release of her Glossolalia album previously published on her Bandcamp page,
“Glossolalia (The Harsh Sounds of the Internet) is a collection of raw sounds of random Internet data (html files, photos, text, etc). These contents have been converted, translated, and databended into audio using a variety of programs. The result is harsh and defining of our online culture and consumption. The piece shows, however, that with noise coexists sound, in which we may form our own meanings, which in turn form the rhythm of our lives. We struggle to hear through this raucous nebula but through critical subtraction and selection, our plights and intentions will be heard, whether we are speaking for ourselves, or for those without a voice. ”


Das torpedoes / Torturing nurse – Split (lathe cut & digital, foreign lands)

US project Das torpedoes, relocated in Shanghai if I understood well presents a drony, ambient, industrial piece, while Torturing Nurse presents his usual powerful harsh noise.


若潭 ruò tán – Live at L’homme Sauvage (CDr, WV Sorcerer Productions)

Chinese project 若潭 ruò tán recorded live at L’homme Sauvage Festival in France in September 2018, one long take (45 minutes) of ritual industrial, noise and dark ambient music.


Pisitakun – SOSLEEP (cassette & digital, Chinabot)

“Created shortly after the death of his father to cancer, Thai artist Pisitakun has combined traditional mourning instruments with harsh noise and techno beats, wrapping them around intimate recordings of the hospital machinery keeping his father alive during his final days.

The result is SOSLEEP, a meditation on the raw, messy chaos of grief. Opening with the sound of a Buddhist monk’s funeral chants, the record’s BMP is led by real recordings of his father heartbeat, turned into electronic blips by the hospital pulse gauge.


Eartaker – Harmonics (vinyl & digital, Bedouin Records)

Japanese trio Eartaker (Goth Trad, Die Suck, Masayuki Imanishi) presents a mixture of dark industrial electronic and doom music. Few parts of the release remind me a bit of Ichiro Tsuji’s project : Dissecting Table blended with a voice closer to the one of Rully Shabara (Senyawa). Their music unique and fantastic mixture doesn’t come as a surprise, knowing that Goth Trad has collaborated with Boris and is part of the dub and drum n bass duo Rebel Familia


Lafidki – Derichan (cassette & digital, Chinabot)

“Saphy Vong was born to Cambodian parents in a Thai refugee camp. He has lived in cities across Europe and Asia, from Paris to Phnom Penh to Riga. These experiences have seeped into his music – a vivid, high energy collision of synths, samples and off-kilter polyrhythms”
“I wanted to give a voice to ethnic minorities, indigenous people, environmental activists who’ve been killed or jailed in Cambodia. I used samples from field recordings of Cambodian tribes, made in 2015 with the help of ethnomusicologist Julien Hairon.”

The interesting result is an electronic music album that navigates between ambient, electronica and traditional music samples.


v.a. – Pop Hits Bootleg Chiptune Compilation (1984​-​2008) (digital, Indochip)

An Indonesian chiptune compilation that include covers of popular hits such as Boys don’t cry (The Cure), Creep (Radiohead), Song 2 (Blur), etc. – Yes, Indonesia, apart of hosting one of the biggest grindcore, punk or noise scene in the whole Asia also hosts a very important chiptune scene, check it out ! Featuring : Astrojo, Chips4breakfast deat. Givana, Giffari Rifki, Gyld, Little Sound Orchestra, Lonely Tunes, Luglio, Patrick Electric, Remedmatika, Shakaboyd.


33EMYBW – Golem (digital, SVBKVLT)

Sinotronic ? 33EMYBW is a member of Chinese duo Duck Fight Goose, her electronic music incorporates a lot of Chinese music elements (but no world music stereotypes !), she is part of a new generation of Chinese composers who managed to blend modern and very dynamic, rhythmical electronic music and an original Chinese influx, such as Zaliva-D, among many others.

You can also watch a video clip made by Fang Yang on Youtube.


Safira Anjani & ɟɐɥɯı ɯnɹsʎıp – Illusion (digital, self-released)

Fahmi Mursyid is a very prolific artist from Indonesia who often collaborates with other musicians, this time pianist and singer Safira Anjani. The three tracks presented in this release bring the listener to an ambient, almost eerie universe, nevertheless delicate and beautiful. You can read more about Fahmi’s work in this article : Eerie, amazing sounds from tape loops, patches – like whales in space by Peter Kirn.


Necromishka – The space between us (CD, digital, self-released)

Necromishka is an Israeli duo that operates in the field of ambient, drone and (noisy) dark folk. Expect blurry atmospheres, distorted instruments and melancholic melodies.


Miteai Narico / Synthmolación – If there was a light, it was gone (digital, No Records)

Japanese artist Miteai Narico composes ambient and drone loops that remind me of Japanese musician Aube, Synthmolación, from Paraguay plays straight in the face noise music.

Asian Music Network, an interview with DJ Sniff, by C-drík.

AMN 2016 artworks-000144010391-glpcx7-t500x500

In 1969, South Korean artist Seok Hee Kang founded the Pan Music Festival where himself and Hwang Byungki performed a piece for daegeum and tape, four years later, in 1973, the Asian Composers League was founded in Hong Kong with the aim of fostering contemporary music which uses both Western and Asian Pacific instruments.
Today in the 21st century, a new generation of composers, free improvisers, noise artists and turntablists cross the barriers again but this time in a less classical and conventional way : Far East Network (FEN), Asian Music Network, and more are reshaping the far east and south east music landscape…

19455802553_aa17d5f902_bPhoto by Kuniya Oyamada –  写真 小山田邦哉

The Asian Music Network festival 2015 took place in Tōkyō and Kyōto and was the first avant-garde festival in the region to include such a large variety of artists from east and south east Asia  : dj sniff (Hong Kong), Bin Idris (Bandung), To Die (Yogyakarta), Iman Jimbot (Bandung), Kok Siew Wai (Kuala Lumpur), Leslie Low (Singapore), Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore), Yui-Saowakhon Muangkruan (Bangkok), Nguyễn Hong Giang (Ho Chi Minh), Lương Huệ Trinh (Hanoi), Sachiko M (Tokyo), Tadashi Yonago (Osaka), Tatsuhisa Yamamoto (Tokyo), Kimiya Sato (Tokyo), Shinobu Kawai (Tokyo), Tamura Fumitake (Tokyo), KΣITO (Tokyo), Ai Watanabe (Tokyo), Ryoko Ōno (Nagoya), Ōtomo Yoshihide (Tokyo).

The 2016 festival will be held in Tōkyō, Kōbe and Kyōto, from the 5th until the 12th of February and featuring the following artists : Ōtomo Yoshihide (Tokyo), dj sniff (Hong Kong), Fiona Lee (Hong Kong), Okkyung Lee (New York), Pete TR (Bangkok), Skip Skip Ben Ben (Taipei), Natalie Alexandra Tse (Singapore), Krisna Widiathama (Yogyakarta), Son X (Hanoi), Yong Yandsen (Kuala Lumpur) and guest Japanese artists Umeda Tetsuya, True Oshiro, Takahiro Kawaguchi, Toshio Kajiwara, Doddodo, Yoko Higashino, Mizuuchi Yoshito, Katsura Mouri and more !
Feel free to listen to the following mix prepared by dj sniff that include the 2016 participants and some of their projects while reading the interview.

20094059991_73ac490eb6_bPhoto by Kuniya Oyamada –  写真 小山田邦哉

1. How did you and Yuen Chee Wai got the idea to create the pan Asian network ?

The idea originates from Ōtomo Yoshihide’s long standing work in trying to connect experimental musicians, in mainly East Asia, with Japanese musicians and the public.

Ōtomo worked extensively in Hong Kong during the early 90’s, and since early 2000’s he had been playing in China and Korea which evenly lead to his band FEN with Yan Jun, Ryu Hankil and Yuen Chee Wai. In 2005, he organised the first Asian Meeting Festival which was born out of both an optimism towards new communities enabled by the internet, and fear that it is also accelerating hate speech and xenophobia in Japan. Since my time at STEIM in Amsterdam, I was always trying to invite any Asian musician that was on tour in Europe, and Chee Wai was also active in organising events that featured Asian experimental musicians in Singapore. I moved to Hong Kong in 2012 after finding Europe being utterly dead, and wanting to tour more in Asia.

2. Do you have more logistic and financial ease and possibilities in Japan than in, let’s say Hong Kong or Singapore ?

For our project Ensembles Asia / Asian Music Network, yes, because we are funded by The Japan Foundation Asia Center (国際交流基金アジアセンター) which is a government cultural body. Ōtomo was invited to lead a new project that focussed on cultural exchange between South East Asia and Japan, and he invited me and Chee Wai. Japan also has a larger audience and generally better infrastructure than Hong Kong or Singapore, so that helps too.

19454000574_83842f32dc_bPhoto by Kuniya Oyamada –  写真 小山田邦哉

3. I noticed that step by step, some networks are being build in Asia, connecting musicians and organisers to each other : Asian Music Network, FEN, Border Movement. Seeking independence ?

It is still a challenge. Generally Asian people would rather work with people from the West for such cultural projects. It has to do with local prestige and also not wanting to be confronted with long history of dispute between neighbouring countries. For us we have to be very careful in running a project supported by Japan in Asia – scars from war don’t disappear that easily.

4. Does living in Hong Kong makes it easier for you to connect people together and travel around than when you were in Japan ?

I don’t know if it makes it easier, but it does give me an identity and edge within the scene. I haven’t lived in Japan for more than half of my life now, so I can get away with being “ignorant” to certain local conversions or political tension – that is quite convenient.

5. Would you organise the festival or some other events in other Asian countries and outside of Asia, such as FEN slowly does ?

Yes, we are trying to do this more. Our vision is that we develop programs and collaborations that take place initially in Japan, but can be brought to other cities. This is very challenging because each country has their own difficulties, but what we keep hearing is that it’s much more difficult than we think for South East Asian artists to connect with each other. We hope we can be a catalyst for new forms of collaboration within the region. Also we would like to bring these artists to Europe and North America as well. This is of course to introduce them to a wider audience but also playing in Western countries significantly helps them back home to receive recognition or funding.

19589047162_005d743b53_bPhoto by Ayane Morishita - 写真 森下綺音



Some recommendations, references and links.

Asian Music Network is part of Ensembles Asia, that also includes Asian Sound Research (a project started in 2014, directed by Japanese musician Sachiko M that focuses on sound art research, including Malaysia, Cambodia, etc.) and Ensembles Asia Orchestra (a project launched in 2014, with the mission of creating a free-form orchestra that engages with people who are not professional musicians. The project is organized by the Japan Foundation Asia Center, with musician Ōtomo Yoshihide as artistic director. Ensembles Asia Orchestra aims to uncover new and unprecedented ways of making music and connecting with people, by sharing the joy of making music and fostering communication with people from elsewhere in Asia – site in Thai, Japanese, Indonesia, Tagalog and English).
You can follow Asian Music Network 2015 on Soundcloud.
And see a few interviews and short live extracts here.

FEN (Far East Network) recently performed at the Festival All Ears in Norway. FEN is an improvised music project group made up of musicians from different parts of Asia. The quartet comprises Ōtomo Yoshihide (Japan), Ryu Hankil (South Korea), Yan Jun (China) and Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore). FEN was started by globally renowned musician Ōtomo Yoshihide and it made its debut in 2008 at MIMI Festival in Marseilles, France. Following its début, FEN has performed extensively throughout Europe and all across Asia.

Border Movement is a platform that aims to encourage interaction between the electronic music scenes of South Asia (Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan) and Germany. Border Movement tends to be more on the dance side than FEN and Asian Music Network but includes also a few sound experimentalists.

Syrphe contains a database which included more than 1500 references of artists, venues, radios, labels, magazines, networks working in the field of alternative electronic music, electro-acoustic, free improv, noise, electronica, chiptune, breakcore, industrial, ambient and more, it is regularly updated.

Some pan-Asian compilations (and beyond for one and we need more like this !).

Live at Htein Lin’s Studio / 7000 Padauk, Yangon, Myanmar, (Syrphe, 2014, digital), an compilation of live recording made in Yangon, Myanmar and featuring six artists mostly living there and coming from Asia and Europe. Free download.

Art of the Muses (Syrphe, 2012, CD and digital), an experimental music compilation featuring 10 female composers from far east Asia (Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, China, Singapore).

Beyond ignorance and borders (Syrphe, 2007, CD and digital), an African, Middle-Eastern, Asian noise and electronic compilation which includes electronic, experimental and noise artists from 21 Asian and African countries (Vietnam, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Philippines, Thailand, Israel, Taiwan, China, South Korea, Lebanon, Indonesia, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Singapore, South Africa, Laos, Tibet, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Malaysia).

Soundtracks For Bride Of Sevenless (Auscultare Research, 1998, CD), 12 noise and sound artists from Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong.

Eternal Blue Extreme: An Asian Tribute To Derek Jarman (Somnus, 1994, CD), 9 noise, experimental and industrial artists from Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan.


If you happen to be in Berlin in early February, I (C-drík) will give a lecture during CTM festival : An introduction to electro-acoustic, noise and experimental music in Africa and Asia, 2 February, 13h, Kunstquartier Studio 1 .

My new essay Power through networking : reshaping the underground electronic and experimental music scenes in East and South East Asia will also be available in CTM Magazine to be out very soon. More info soon !