Thursday 14 November 2019, 7.30pm
At the Cutting Edge: Experimental Sounds of Asia is a series of concerts celebrating new music from across Asia and the diaspora, performed by natural collaborators and influenced by cross-arts forms. The series takes its inspiration from the acclaimed Japanese composer, jazz musician and interdisciplinary artist Jun Fukamachi (1946-2010), taking its name from his rare record ‘Nicole’, which was made especially for the Nicole fashion house’s now legendary 1986 spring/summer collection show.
At the Cutting Edge brings together musicians from across Asia and the diaspora with those who are inspired by music from Asia. Renowned London artists are joined by musicians who have never or rarely perform in the UK. Each of them, akin to Fukamachi, are natural collaborators and experimenters, who push boundaries and incorporate an array of influences. These include the visual arts, ethnomusicology, found object percussion, archival records from across the world, polyrhythms and even traditional instrumentation. These pioneering artists pave the way for new cross-arts historiographies, which expand upon or subvert conventional musical genres of Asia.
We are pleased to bring together three fantastic collaborators for an evening of electronic, ambient music from Japan, South Korea and London. Japanese underground legend Phew headlines the evening, performing a solo set which celebrates the music she has created over her lengthy career, from jazz to punk and everything in between.
Featured as a Showcasing Artist at SXSW 2016, this will be the first performance in the UK by Seoul-based electronic producer and composer haihm, who is also releasing a new album this Autumn. She will be presenting a new work with London-based Korean visual artist Bongsu Park, commissioned especially for At the Cutting Edge.
Cafe OTO regulars, O YAMA O, inspired by the folk music of Japan, will open the evening with a collaborative set exploring their unique combination of sounds from found object percussion to electronic loops.
Phew‘s career began in the 70s when she fronted Osaka punk group Aunt Sally (who released one album on Vanity Records in 1979). Ryuichi Sakamoto produced Phew’s first solo release in 1980 and in 1981 Pass Records issued her debut LP, a classic featuring Holger Czukay and Jaki Liebezeit of Can, and Conny Plank. She’s since collaborated with members of DAF, Neubauten, Boredoms and more.
Pitchfork calls her a “Japanese underground legend”. The albums she created over the last 40 years have gone from record store rarities to being included on many “best of” lists. She worked solo with musicians such as Ryuichi Sakamoto, Holger Czukay, Jaki Liebezeit, Chrislo Haas, Alexander Hacke, Yuji Takahashi, Seiichi Yamamoto, Hiroyuki Nagashima, Otomo Yoshihide in the group Novo Tono, Dieter Moebius on Phew’s Project Undark Radium Girls project, Jim O’Rourke and Ana da Silva.
haihm is a Seoul based electronic musician, producer and DJ. She was classically trained on piano and studied Klavier-Konzertfach at Universität Mozarteum Salzburg in Austria. She has released two self-produced albums based on electronic music. Her new album featuring a Korean traditional vocalist as well as a Jazz bassist will be released this autumn 2019. She has been performing at many festivals alongside working with artists from various fields, including the visual arts, contemporary dance, film and classical symphonic orchestras. She works with interest in the energy created by pure sound.
“It takes a magic touch to make haihm’s kind of electronic music. Working with an array of glitchy elements - vocal snippets, clipped synths, cut-up samples - the Seoul beatmaker forms stunning compositions that transcend their techy roots and speak to a very human sense of emotional understanding and generosity. Powerful stuff.” - by Peter Holslin, DJmag.com.
Bongsu Park is a London-based Korean artist. Her recent work is founded on how our innermost thoughts may connect with other people’s and how these can be shared publicly. She studied at the Slade School of Fine Arts, UK and at l’Ecole des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, France. She has exhibited internationally including Zona Maco Arte Contemporáneo-Sample, FIAC-cinéphémère, The Moving Image Istanbul, Barcelona LOOP, Gyungnam Art Museum in Changwon, South Korea and her performance work showed at Camden Arts Centre, Rosenfeld Porcini gallery and the Print Room Coronet Theatre in London. Her work finds its roots in the philosophy of her homeland South Korea and brings this into the context of contemporary western societies.
O YAMA O explores a certain domestic and democratic quality of everyday life, born through associations to folk music of Japan and a folding of myth, tradition, and routine; the non-spectacular and the sublime.
Formed of musician and artist Rie Nakajima and Cafe OTO co-founder Keiko Yamamoto, the group has performed since 2014 at venues and festivals such as noshowspace, Ikon Gallery, Wysing Arts Centre, Supernormal, Borealis Festival, Mayhem, and allEars Festival.
Nakajima’s performance often focuses on the use of found and kinetic objects, using modest items such as rice bowls, toys, clockwork, balloons and small motors as instruments to create a “micro orchestra”. Elements are layered into impressive and immersive atmospheres. Yamamoto alternatively floats and charges through this with body and voice; chanting, incanting, thundering, whispering, stamping on the floor.
Their debut album consolidates their musical conversations into keenly paced studio music, the duo working with additional instrumentation and a resolved focus on melody to provide vivid portraits of folkloric Japan in song.
They move between pop and the philosophical, defined by the overall space afforded to texture and movement. In small, delicate sound an intimate musical climate is established that reflects on life, telling stories of improvised clockwork, whispered dreams, small movements of the hand and the rhythm to be found in the shuffle of a deck of cards.
Grandly theatric and dramatic flourishes add solidity to these illustrations, operas driven by the swooping energy and power of Yamamoto’s voice can be playful or emotionally charged, particularly when the duo arrange themselves in ensemble with violinist Billy Steiger and percussionist Marie Roux. Production by David Cunningham creates the shadowy presence of a leftfield Flying Lizards dubwise depth that adds subtle strangeness to the atmosphere. The result is something raw, full-bodied; full of energy, grace and mystery.
The Bagri Foundation is a UK registered charity, inspired by creative, unique and unexpected ideas that weave the traditional and the contemporary of Asian culture. The Foundation is driven by curiosity, a desire to learn and supports myriad of exciting artistic programmes that challenge, engage and inspire. Through a diverse programme of film, visual arts, music, dance, literature, courses and lectures, Bagri Foundation gives artists and experts from across Asia, or those inspired by the continent, wider visibility on the global stage.