Sunday 26 February 2017, 7.30pm

Yugenism: Animated Soundscapes of the Japanese Sublime

No Longer Available

Yugenism: Animated Soundscapes of the Japanese Sublime is the new experimental music and animation project fronted by British producer and sound artist Verity Lane. Lane has collaborated with three animators and one traditional Japanese dancer to create four sonic installations that present an alternative take on classical Japanese music. With a mix of world-class British and Japanese traditional instrumentalists, this project boasts intimate live performances as well as visual artwork and spoken word.

Experience an original interpretation of yugen, and immerse yourself within the mysterious sonic landscape.

Embrace the dark and mysterious

Yugenism: An introduction


  • Derived from the Japanese term yugen.
  • Yugen: a traditional Japanese aesthetic often referred to as the ‘dark and mysterious’, or simply Japanese sublime (Verity Lane’s choice of phrase). An aesthetic synonymous with Noh theatre.
  • After extensive research into the term yugenism, Lane discovered that the late Japanese artist Kenzo Okada coined the phrase in the 20th century (after originally believing she conceived the idea first).

Yugenism: The movement

  • A progressive movement that explores new interpretations of the Japanese sublime.
  • Faithful to its original roots, but updating the notion with radical creative elements.

Creative Result

  • Melancholic, mysterious, dark, sublime, transcendental, programmatic (based on poems and stories), refined, impermanence.

Alternative Interpretations of the Japanese Sublime

You will be presented with 4 brand new pieces written for a combination of Japanese and Western instruments. The resulting soundscapes will be accompanied with bespoke animations and traditional Japanese dance. Instruments will include the koto (Japanese harp), sho (mouthorgan), shakuhachi (bamboo flute), piano and organ. Each piece is programmatic in nature, and aims to depict poems and famous Japanese stories.

Creativity and innovation is at the helm of this collaborative project – expressing the magic of the Japanese sublime.

Creative Participants:

  • Verity Lane (Music Maker / Producer)
  • Etsuko Takezawa (Koto / bass koto)
  • Ko Ishikawa (sho)
  • Kaho Aso (Dance)
  • Tomoko Komura (Narrator)
  • Clive Bell (Shakuhachi)
  • Liam Noble (Piano)
  • Rowan O'Brien (Animator)
  • Ivana Plechacova (Animator)
  • Barry O'Brien (Animator)
  • Christopher Lane (Artist)

Verity Lane

Verity Lane (music maker and project leader) – Born in Tottenham and spending the last 10 years in Japan, music-maker, sound artist and producer Verity Lane specialises in creating highly visual soundscapes for traditional Japanese instruments. Her music is rich in Japanese aesthetics, exploring the concepts of mujo (impermanence), yugen (inherent beauty meets the austere- similar to the sublime) and ma (space – similar to the concept of Western rubato).

Mentored by the late Indian composer John Mayer, she went on to complete a BA Hons in Japanese and music at School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), and won an award by JASSO to study at Osaka University, Japan. She then went on to complete an MA in composition at Osaka College of Music. Recently, two pieces from her ‘3 Summer Pieces’ for bass koto (Japanese harp) were premiered on BBC Radio 3’s ‘Late Junction’.

Lane is also a producer and event organiser, with her new experimental community music series ‘Tottenham Soundscapes’ gaining much attention.

Etsuko Takezawa

Etsuko Takezawa is an internationally acclaimed koto and shamisen player based in Tokyo, Japan. Famed for her inimitably dynamic style of play, she performs both traditional and contemporary repertoire. A former student of the prestigious Tokyo National University of Arts and Music, her past tutors boast the renowned koto maestros Tadao Sawai, Kazue Sawai, and Tashi Nakai. Takezawa performs globally, including tours and performances across Asia, Europe and America.

Etsuko Takezawa

Ko Ishikawa

Ko Ishikawa is a world renowned sho (Japanese mouthorgan) player and recording artist. This Tokyo-based musician studied under the tutelage of internationally acclaimed musicians Mayumi Miyata, Sukeyasu Shiba, and Hideaki Bruno. As well as touring internationally as a member of the prestigious gagaku (Japanese court music) collective ‘Reigakusha’, where he performs traditional repertoire, Ishikawa also enjoys collaborating worldwide with artists and composers within the experimental and contemporary music scenes.

Ko Ishikawa

Kaho Aso

Kaho Aso is a traditional Japanese dancer, multi-instrumentalist and actor from Tokyo, Japan. She completed a PHD at the prestigious Tokyo University of the Arts where she focused on traditional Japanese instruments. As well as performing internationally, she has appeared in a variety of Japanese advert campaigns, TV programmes and films, as well as the Hollywood film Blue Eye Samurai. She was appointed as a Japan Cultural Envoy by the Agency of Cultural Affairs, and currently resides in London.

Kaho Aso

Tomoko Komura

Tomoko Komura is a London-based performer, actor and instrumentalist from Japan. She completed an MA at London International School of Performing Arts, and performs regularly as a member of the band No Cars and the Frank Chickens.

Tomoko Komura

Clive Bell

Clive Bell is a musician, composer and writer with a specialist interest in the shakuhachi, khene (Thai mouth organ) and other East Asian wind instruments. He has travelled extensively in Japan (where he studied shakuhachi with the master Kohachiro Miyata), Thailand, Laos and Bali, researching music and meeting local practitioners. He currently tours with UK-based Japanese drumming group Taiko Meantime, and joins koto and shamisen players to perform the Japanese classical repertoire. He toured for over a decade with Jah Wobble, including shows at Ronnie Scott’s and the Glastonbury Festival.

Clive is the shakuhachi player on Karl Jenkins's album Requiem on EMI Classics, the final two Harry Potter movies, and the Hobbit. His shakuhachi playing has been featured live on Radio 3’s Late Junction and In Tune. In 2013 at the BFI, Sylvia Hallett and Clive Bell performed a live soundtrack for Walk Cheerfully, Yasujiro Ozu’s 1930 comedy gangster movie.

Clive Bell has a substantial recording history as both a solo artist (his solo album, Shakuhachi: The Japanese Flute was reissued in 2005 by ARC Records) and as a composer for film, TV and theatrical productions (Complicite, Kazuko Hohki, IOU, Whalley Range Allstars). Jazz pianist Taeko Kunishima, Jaki Liebezeit, David Sylvian, David Toop, Jochen Irmler of Faust and Bill Laswell number among Clive Bell's collaborators. Based in London, he writes regularly for the music monthly The Wire.

Liam Noble

Liam Noble is a London-based jazz pianist, composer, educator, and recording artist. Noble has recorded and released several albums through Basho Records, including the acclaimed ‘Close your Eyes’ (1994), ‘In the Meantime’ (2001), ‘Romance Among the Fishes’ (2004), and ‘The Madness of Crows’ (2011), as well as collaborating with various notable musicians such as Christine Tobin, Marc Ducret, and Okkyung Lee. As well as being a successful recording artist, Noble holds acclaimed teaching posts at both Birmingham Conservatoire and Trinity College of Music.

Photo by Sean Kelly.

Liam Noble by Sean Kelly

Rowan O’Brien

Rowan O’Brien is a renowned animator and 3D artist from the West Coast of Ireland. He mixes sketches, objects, computer animation, and video in his work. He has screened and exhibited work across Europe, South Korea and Japan, where he lived and studied Japanese fabric craft known as oshie. He currently resides in London, where he undertakes collaborative projects that showcase his unique style.


Etienne Eve

Etienne Eve is a London-based animator with an avid interest in visual scripting. Originally from the Czech Republic, she studied at Prague’s Czech Technical University, honing her skills further by undertaking a one year programmein digital arts at Union College, New York. With work placements in the field of local architectural practises in Berg, Prague, Paris, Japan and London, Etienne Eve is internationally minded, with her work in the field of architect bringing a unique structural element to her computer animations. Her work has been featured in numerous online magazines, and she participates in workshops regularly.

Etienne Eve

Barry O’Brien

Barry O’Brien is a multidisciplinary artist from the West coast of Ireland. He is currently based in London, and has exhibited internationally, including Ireland and Japan.


Christopher Lane

Christopher Lane is a London-based artist, with his studio situated in the artistic hub of East London. As well as being celebrated for his portraiture, Lane is also a neo-expressionist and abstract painter, and is the resident artist for the experimental community-based project Tottenham Soundscapes. Lane is a prolific worker, and is always on the look out to exhibit at unusual venues. He predominantly works in oils, but also creates work in ink.

Christopher Lane