Japanese New Music Festival, Cafe Oto, 14/11/10

Tsuyama Atsushi

This performance at Cafe Oto had everything. And I mean everything. Solo sets. Duo sets. Trio sets. Songs. Instrumentals. Cover versions. Fanfares. Improvisation. Folk. Blues. Prog. Psych. Jazz. Drone. Throat singing. Guitar solos. Singing bowl solos. Bottle solos. Trouser zip solos. Miles Davis impersonations. Grown men wearing furniture on their heads. I swear I’m not making any of this up. This actually happened, at Cafe Oto. Most of all, however, this night had fun. Lots and lots of fun.

Kawabata Makoto

All of this came from seven combinations of just three men: Tsuyama Atsushi and Kawabata Makoto from Acid Mothers Temple, and Tatsuya Yoshida, better known as Ruins. From the second they took to the stage, performing a freakout fanfare and shouting “JAPANESE! NEW! MUSIC! FESTIVAL! SEVEN PROJECTS!” repeatedly, it was clear that this was not going to be an entirely serious event. Tsuyama’s opening solo performance featured him improvising amusingly on guitar (thumping on the body, playing it back to front, and holding it as a cello), while proclaiming – in Cafe Oto of all places – that he “hates experimental music”. With Yoshida, (“SEVEN PROJECTS PROJECT NUMBER THREE!”) Atsushi performed a duo for amplified flies, both zipping their trousers rhythmically. A later combination (“SEVEN PROJECTS PROJECT NUMBER FIVE!”) with Makoto saw them preface every song with “This is a very famous song. Oh, very, very famous”, before performing an almost unrecognisable “Rock and Roll” with Atsushi in character as Robert Plant, or “Smoke On The Water” with him in character as Captain Beefheart (naturally). For their ten second snippets of pieces from Agharta and Pangaea, while Makoto casually dispensed fusion fuzz, Atsushi “dressed” as Miles, donning oversized cardboard shades and lumbering around the stage like a complete loon.

Ruins

It wasn’t all silliness. After a warning that his music would “make us all go to sleep”, Kawabata Makoto performed a magnificent solo set. He added layers of bowed, looped and delayed guitar, flooding Oto with deep drone, tapping out rhythms on the strings, and swirling in some singing bowl ringing notes. How could you sleep to this? It was too enjoyable. Ruins performed his customarily mindblowing one man prog band set of solo drumming, triggering complex samples and playing along with razor sharp precision. When they all took to the stage together, as Acid Mothers Temple SWR, they produced an electrifying (and very loud) squall and clatter, a sound mass that twitched and spasmed, shrieked and shredded. At this set’s close they all collapsed to the floor from mock exhaustion, before hauling themselves back to the or feet for SEVEN PROJECTS NUMBER SEVEN: some in-the-round-style vocal arrangements, phrases being passed around the trio for them to knock into unusual and sometimes comic shape. It ended – as it possibly only could – with Atsushi wearing an umbrella, and Makoto jamming a stool over his head. Yep, Oto doesn’t see too many nights quite like this one.

Atsushi