Japanese Avant​-​Garde : Agitation​/​Stillness >< Noise​/​Silence

Japanese Avant​-​Garde

Japanese Avant​-​Garde : Agitation​/​Stillness >< Noise​/​Silence
Koji Asano – Merzbow – Haco – Bisk – Sachiko M – Otomo Yoshihide – Aki Onda – Ground Zero…

Compiled by Gauthier Keyaert, published in 2002.


As an introduction to this album here are some extracts from David Toop’s liner notes.

Most music in Japan has little to recommend it; it is a sonic equivalent of those brutal concrete towers or the transitory chaos of multi-storey teen-fashion emporia in Aoyama. But a sonic underground thrives, creatively if not financially, and perhaps it should be compared with the shabby Golden-gai drinking dens of Shinjuku, faint reminders of a lost time when desire and transgression shared endless cups of sake with political and artistic radicalism…
…How is it possible to live within and react against an extremely regulated society, politically moribund, engulfed by consumerism, technological innovation, mediated images, a confusion of influences and traditions? Agitation and stillness may seem to be opposing strategies, yet they converge at a certain point…
…Surging deep beneath the noir turbulence of Merzbow and So Takahashi, the car crash ruins of Otomo Yoshihide and Ground Zero, the curated urban fragments of Viewmaster, the technocratic complexity of Bisk and Yoshihiro Hanno’s Multiphonic Ensemble, the piercing intensity of Sachiko M, the childlike placidity of Aki Onda, Yoshio Machida and Haco, is a conflicting sense of clarity attained through struggle. Out of turmoil, a stained purity is revealed.
Listening to this alchemical transmutation, I think of Fujieda Baian, the central character of Shotaro Ikenami’s historical novels. Professional assassin and acupuncturist, Baian kills to live, lives to heal. At the beginning of Yasunari Kawabata’s novel, The Sound of the Mountain, Ogata Shingo hears an elusive sound, the faint rumble of the mountain at the rear of his house. “It was as if a demon had passed, making the mountain sound out.” Shingo shakes his head, thinking the disturbance might be a ringing in his ears. Feeling fear, perhaps he hears the collapsing certainties of the future, our present, where everything is in flux.