14 October 2018

Takehisa Kosugi of Taj Mahal Travellers & Group Ongaku R.I.P.

Another great bites the dust... Takehisa Kosugi passed away three days ago on 12 October 2018. A contemporary of Yoko Ono and Yasunao Tone, he was responsible for bridging the seemingly different worlds of psychedelia, modern composition, improvisation and modern dance during his lifetime.

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A member of the Fluxus in Japan, in the early 1960s he was instrumental in the formation of arguably the world's first free music ensemble, Group Ongaku (with Yasunao Tone and Mieko Shiomi among many others), in Japan. He went on to form the hugely influential Taj Mahal Travellers in the late 1960s and globe trotted to spread his gospel of drone and minimalist informed space music at outdoor festivals and concert halls.

Image result for kosugi takehisa merce cunninghamLater on, he worked closely with modern dance legend Merce Cunningham when he was invited to join Merce Cunningham Dance Company from 1977 to 2011, working with David Tudor as music director for a number of years when their respective stints in the Company overlapped.

In my opinion, these are some key albums which one should listen to which Takehisa Kosugi was involved in:

Takehisa Kosugi - Catch Wave

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Taj Mahal Travellers - Live Sotckholm July 1971

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Taj Mahal Travellers - August 1974

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Toshi Ichiyanagi/Michael Ranta/Takehisa Kosugi - Improvisation Sep. 1975

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Steve Lacy/Yuji Takahashi/Takehisa Kosugi - Distant Voices

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24 September 2018

Acid Mothers Temple Psych-freaking Out in Singapore, finally.... on 22 November 2018

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More details here...

But the basic info are as follows:
Thursday, November 22, 2018 at 7:30 PM – 10:30 PM
SLED Productions x Decline
37 GEYLANG LORONG 23, Singapore 388371

Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO will finally be here in Singapore after their debut album was first released 20 years ago on legendary but sadly defunct Japanese record label, PSF Records (which also housed Keiji Haino, High Rise, Ghost, Kaoru Abe, Masayuki Takayanagi, etc. during its glorious years from mid 1980s to early 2010s).

Mokoto Kawabata and company will be cooking up a electric cosmic soup rivalling that of a tropical cyclone in November and should not be missed if you are into any music which is interesting, challenging, mind-bending and psyche-frying.

Brought to you by my friends at Ujikaji & The Observatory, kudos!

Hope to see a many of you there... psych out...

12 July 2018

SG Artist Yuen Chee Wai Interviewed

SG artist Yuen Chee Wai was recently interviewed by a Japanese online portal. He shared with the interviewer his critical take on his personal artistic journey as well as contextualising the greater SG and Asian sound art/art/music scenes that he has been navigating in for years.

GO HERE for the full interview.

18 June 2018

Trevor Barre's "Convergences, Divergences & Affinities" Book Review

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I know that this review of this (yet another) great book by Trevor Barre is very late in the game of review-dom as it was published about a year ago. This is because I only got round to diving into it just. Understand that the book, together with its predecessor - Beyond Jazz are now out of print! Well done for two invaluable resources on one of the least commercialised and under-documented music genres, free improvisation aka free improve or simply Improv.

A few things about the book:
1.       Sprawling (in a good way) – instead of a more linear narrative like its prequel, Barre opted for a more critical and sidewinding approach. Myriad interconnections to the larger political-socio-economic contexts, a-thousand-plateau like networked threads joining the especially creatively/musically promiscuous (in the best sense of the word) 2nd generation practitioners like Beresford, Toop, Coxhill and Day with the worlds of punk, post-punk, world and what-have-you parallel musical micro-verses from the mid 1970s to the early 1980s. Open-mindedness stood out as a most commendable trait of these chaps especially back before the whole idea of human decency in the forms of racial and sexual equality were still in their nascent stage as Rock Against Racism and Spare Ribs were still struggling upstream to be seen, heard and absorbed into the minds of people. Perhaps musical openness is a requisite prerequisite for open-mindedness in general?

2.       Sectarianism – well on the other hand, the uglier side of human nature reared itself quite apparently as well. Barre’s tracing of the various squabbles amongst the first gen, second gen and inter-gen via the making/breaking of collaboration (Incus Records), joint venture (Musics magazine) and even gigging came out strong and pungent too. No criticism on the chaps then, as it is human, all too human. But with historical hindsight, it is good to be aware and beware of such trappings as the devotees and practitioners were struggling with contextual challenges, creative and aesthetic flag-staking in the quicksand of the moment as well as the shaping of such a revolutionary then new genre when it was still trying to decide if it should remove the shackles of its history or to maintain some sort of a begrudging nodal link to the past. Tough.

3.       Affirmation – The book is after all, an affirmation of the genre/musical movement/creative conception as it is still around with us today. Its reach global, its fans manifold (relatively) more, its practitioners diverse and cross-generational. The fact that the book is now out of print physically speak volume of the above situation. Just like one of its closer neighbouring genres, Noise or noise, depending on one’s standpoint, the definition of what free improvisation is is illusive and constrictive simultaneously. But Barre pins it by attributing the UK as one of the key source springs of the genre/movement and kudos to him and all the practitioners and more.

My ending notes come in a singular question:
Will there be a book three a la a trilogy tracking the development of free improvisation in the 1980s and even the 1990s? I hope so…

03 June 2018

HARRY PUSSY "A Real New England Fuck Up" Not a Review but a Redress

Was blasting Harry Pussy’s A Real New England Fuck Up LP recently. And I was indignantly wondering: “Where the hell are the raving reviews for this brain-melting live document of one of the most irreverent and severely underrated groups of all time? Where is David Keenan? Where is Byron Coley? Where are the saliva dripping, mentally retarding and reflexes halting descriptions about how great the band was in those two gigs which they once again annihilated those present and those who has the fortune to blast it in their home systems?”

Side A’s “T.T. Bears, Cambridge, MA 1996” is a blistering bluster from start to finish. With a grossly pissed off Adris Hoyos over her drum kit missing or something like that prior to getting on stage to set it ablaze. It didn’t seem to matter as she was in negative adrenalized top form with extra vitriolic bile thrown in for good measure. Free jazz meets Hardcore? Free Hardcore? Or simply what Hardcore should be like in an alternatively perfect world where Minutemen should be kings, Husker Du should be kings and Flipper should be changeling princes like Loki?

Flipping the vinyl over and barely recovering from the almost asthma like kinda hyperventilation, Side B’s “WUOG, Athens, GA 1994” just takes you to the ultra zone of free-for-all. Hoyos rules but Bill Orcutt is the champ on this side. Buzzing guitar sprays of inhumanity taking the listener for a ride. Gravity-defying blitzkrieg of atonal futurism which Marinetti and Russolo could only have dreamt of in their deepest recesses of their sub-consciousness.

It baffles me that I have not come across any reviews on this slab of molten lava hot piece of plastic. It baffles me that they were so underappreciated when they were around and long after they were gone. Hipsters might be googoo gaga over Orcutt’s solo outings in the recent decade and rightfully so but to me Harry Pussy were the real frigging and freaking deal of 1990s skulduggery. May they blitz on in an alternative universe and cleanse it of all the idiots and dunkheads who populate the real world we are sadly living in.

08 March 2018

Flux Us Record Shop SG Recent Mentions...

More than thirteen years ago, the impulsive author of this blog set up a hole-in-a-wall record shop in Singapore with his partner-in-crime, Harold Seah. Situated on the top floor of the still-standing Peninsula Shopping Centre in town, it was supposed to be a hole-in-the-wall operation. We wanted to sell stuff which were not carried by all, if not most other local record shops here (yes,there were quite a lot back then; and we stocked quite a fair bit of vinyl too, before the mini-renaissance of vinyl in the recent decade).

Then we started hosting in-store gigs for musician friends and friends of friends on the suggestions of our friends who helped much in the set-up of the shop (who chipped in in terms of design work, paint job, manning the store behind the counter, running the in-store gigs and so forth). Jazkamer, Lucas Abela, Zai Kunning, Kevin Guoh, Leslie Low, Goh Lee Kwang, Lawrence English (I might have misremembered some and left out some here...).

We also did a gig at the Victoria Theatre thanks to our friend who was a manager there which hosted the NZ musicians Antony Milton and Birchville Cat Motel.

We made many new friends and deepened existing friendships. It was, as the cliche goes, a trip...

Recently there were two mentions of this modest operation of us in two quite different contexts. The first was related to the death of Jóhann Jóhannsson's death. Our friend, musician Ricks Ang paying a tribute to Jóhann Jóhannsson which he started off with where he first heard the music of this musician

The second mention is part of the liner notes to the recent release of another two of our friends, musicians Lasse Marhaug and Yuen Chee Wai.  Support them and buy a copy... good stuff there. Yuen, by the way, was the designer behind our store logo, flyers, posters and visuals. 

Brings back some memories... 

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18 December 2017

Z'EV & Sunny Murray R.I.P.

Another year, another passing of the old avant-guards. Two influential and vital artists who happened to be in the field of rhythms passed on within days of each other's departures.

First, Sunny Murray, who was one of the key percussionists, who revolutionised and liberated the sense of time and movement in jazz back in the 1960s and continued to exert an undeniable impact on jazz and many forms of modern music genres. In the company of illustrious giants like Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor, Murray's pulses were integral to the modern music.

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Next, Z'EV, who had always been associated with the early Industrial music movement but he was more. A poet, a writer, a modern composer, field recordist and a polymath. When I first got hold of his seminal anthology, 
1968-1990: One Foot In The Grave
 back in the early 2000s, I was deeply shocked and moved by his wealth of ideas and creativity exhibited in the plethora of projects he was in since the 1970s. By turns esoteric, expansive, spiky, inquisitive and sensitive, he continued this relentless creativity of his up to his last days.

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