Eiko Ishibashi is a Japanese improvisor, producer, and singer-songwriter. As her albums demonstrate, she is equally comfortable composing and performing everything from quirky pop, modern classical music, and prog to the extremes of improvisational jazz and noise. She has performed and toured with Jim ORourke, Keiji Haino, Akira Sakata, Charlemagne Palestine, Oren Ambarchi, and Glenn Kotche, to name a few. Her 2014 offering, Car and Freezer, offered evidence of the seam where her quirky brand of pop met complex jazz composition, while Kouen Kyoudai, her 2016 album-length collaboration with Masami Akita (Merzbow) offered an exercise in industrial improvisation.
Ishibashi's main instrument is piano, though she is adept at drums, flute, and vibraphone. Her first "solo" recording was Slip Beneath the Distant Tree in 2007, a double-length duo offering with Ruins bassist Tatsuya Yoshida. She followed it a year later with the innovative Drifting Devil. The album captured the critical imagination of Japanese journalists -- many of whom selected it as one of the year's best recordings -- as well as the admiration of fellow musicians, and her reputation grew.
In 2010 she met O'Rourke when they were both invited to play on Phew's Five Finger Discount. He asked her to perform on his All Kinds of People: Love Burt Bacharach tribute set and they joined one another's bands. He produced Ishibashi's 2011 album Carapace, and recorded and mixed her solo piano follow-up, I'm Armed. In 2013, she played on Gaspar Claus' Jo Ha Kyū alongside Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haino, and Kazutoki Umezu. She also signed to Drag City, which released Imitation of Life and followed it with Car and Freezer in 2014. Ishibashi and O'Rourke were also members of Kafka's Ibiki, who cut three albums between 2013 and 2014. She played on O'Rourke's Simple Songs in 2015 and kept up a rigorous touring regimen that included playing her own shows and with O'Rourke and their band. She also found time to form RNA with Fumio Kosakai (Incapacitants) and Kimihide Kusafuka (K2), and cut the double-cassette release No New Tokyo.
In early 2016, Ishibashi released another duo recording, this one in collaboration with Masami Akita (aka Merzbow); entitled Kouen Kyoudaireleased on Editions Mego. That same year she also worked with experimental sound artist and composer John Duncan on his full-length Bitter Earth, and privately released the digital-only piano trio full-length Six Feet Under with bassist Toshiaki Sudoh and drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto. After time off and touring with O'Rourke, Ishibashi returned to the studio in 2018 and released the experimental Ichida in collaboration with composer and multi-instrumentalist Darin Gray on Black Truffle, and her own mutant pop collection, The Dream My Bones Dream on Drag City.