Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Reviews, opinions, and critical writing.
User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by jon abbey »

Image

so as I've written elsewhere, Yuko and I are in Tokyo for the next couple of weeks, as is Annette Krebs. this isn't coincidental, as she's primarily here to record her upcoming Erst release with Taku Unami, but my role in this case is largely that of an observer (in this stage, anyway). Taku has organized all of the details of her trip, which involve recording at his house, three nights of shows at Kid Ailack Hall with Annette and different Tokyo musicians, two Krebs/Unami shows in Kobe and Kyoto, then back to Tokyo for more recording at Kid Ailack, and a couple of shows at Loop Line next week which are still being formalized as to the combos.

anyway, five nights of shows over the next two weeks, so I thought I'd write them up briefly here, along with some accompanying color and pix from Yuko, as always.

6/10/09, Kid Ailack Art Hall, Tokyo: Annette Krebs/Taku Sugimoto

this duo were pretty frequent playing partners in the early part of the decade, but this was their first meeting in 4-5 years, and they were both pretty excited about it. I was quite curious going in about which Sugimoto we'd see/hear.

people filled the small room, maybe only 25-30 in total, but many musicians: Unami, Toshi Nakamura, Tetuzi Akiyama, Toshiya Tsunoda, Kazushige Kinoshita. Unami made the announcements beforehand in Japanese, and told us there would be two sets. both were fully improvised, I believe (maybe Taku told Annette the general area of what he'd do beforehand, dunno).

Image

set 1: Sugimoto had his guitar on his lap, Annette had the same, plus her table full of electronics. as the set began, Sugimoto pulled out an e-bow which he used with his right hand pretty steadily through the set. he also used a plastic Bic cigarette lighter in his left hand, as a bottleneck, he told me later. Sugimoto produced sound fairly constantly throughout, drones which he was constantly slightly tweaking, underpinning Annette:s more cut-up material. Annette was quite active, not sticking with any sounds for very long, many German-speaking radio samples without much color, just voices thrown into the mix and just as quickly cut out. her demeanour during this set reminded me of Thomas Lehn, a physical way of working in which she'd twirl a knob or push a button, then jump back in her seat to let the music breathe, only to jump forward and cut it dead a few seconds later. this set came to a natural conclusion about 20 minutes in, pretty enjoyable.

Image

set 2: Sugimoto's guitar was gone, replaced by a music stand in front of him. Annette's setup was the same (I think). Taku began by crumpling a plastic bag on the stand out of our sight, rolling it around between his hands until he was bored of the sounds. this set the tone for a Fluxus-type set from him, as he variously tore newspapers into strips, banged two short wooden sticks against each other, snapped his fingers loudly, crumpled his plastic drinking cup, eventually getting up from his seat and pushing it around the area a bit to produce dragging noises. Annette's input into this set was more subdued, very few speaking samples, more towards field recordings/bird sounds/gentle crackles/simple sounds. she felt a bit constrained towards the end by her limitations, meaning that she had to sit down the whole time (her guitar was strapped to her lap) and her output was only coming from her speakers. she chose to address this by taking a steel wool pad and throwing it downwards in between her and Taku, but it barely made a noise. so she took her e-bow and did the same, hoping it'd be muffled by the shredded newspaper around Taku's feet, but it made quite a loud clunk, which I think was more than she expected. this set also came to a natural close about 25-30 minutes in, maybe not revelatory but interesting at least.

I talked to Sugimoto quite a bit at uchiage afterwards, more than I have in years (maybe ever?). we talked about macro issues, his music in general, his perception to Western onlookers, even that he reads here sometimes (!). I asked him to write a piece for ErstWords about his musical philosophy in general, a manifesto, anything he wanted to do along those lines, and he was very into the idea and agreed, so that should be interesting if and when it actually emerges.

User avatar
Yii
Posts: 1846
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 8:12 pm
Location: Paju, Korea
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Yii »

Image
No work tomorrow to work today.

User avatar
RFKorp
Posts: 1294
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 5:01 pm
Location: next to my computer

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by RFKorp »

Thanks for the report Jon. Definitely interesting to read how things are unfolding.

Yii - what is that a picture of? (For those of us who cannot read the text...) Flyer related to these concerts or something else?
The grammatical rules associated with diagrammatic reduction become apparent by considering a more tractable diagrammatic representation, applied to the Windsor knot in Fig. 8. - Fink & Mao, Tie knots, random walks and topology, (Physica A 276)

User avatar
Jesse
Posts: 3613
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Jesse »

Thanks, Jon.
Taku-san did shred!
http://crowwithnomouth.wordpress.com/

Experimental music should be something that suggests a way of organizing your thinking, your attitude toward the world, which suggests that the world could be different.
Christian Wolff 2014

User avatar
Yii
Posts: 1846
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 8:12 pm
Location: Paju, Korea
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Yii »

Image

yea, sir! it's a flyer about gigs w/ masafumi ezaki @ guggenheim house in kobe this sunday.
what a beautiful venue, ever!!!!
No work tomorrow to work today.

Chromosome
Posts: 477
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 6:13 pm

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Chromosome »

jon abbey wrote:she chose to address this by taking a steel wool pad and throwing it downwards in between her and Taku, but it barely made a noise. so she took her e-bow and did the same
That's an $80+ throw if that broke. Risky.

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by jon abbey »

she said it was empty anyway, but I don't know what that means.

User avatar
Richard Pinnell
Posts: 2629
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 6:12 pm
Location: Oxfordshire, England
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Richard Pinnell »

Yii wrote:Image
That is really quite beautiful.

User avatar
Jason Brogan
Posts: 242
Joined: Wed May 14, 2008 10:31 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Jason Brogan »

jon abbey wrote:she said it was empty anyway, but I don't know what that means.
no 9v battery

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by jon abbey »

OK, so night 2. first, let me backtrack a little and talk about Kid Ailack Art Hall, the venue for these three nights...

my first visit to Kid Ailack was last September for the AMPLIFY festival. Yuko and I had never been there before, but the musicians all advised us to do the festival there, despite its small size (50 people would be seriously jammed, even 40 is tight and 25 feels full). when we got there, it was immediately clear that this was a great decision, as the room itself has a fantastically resonant acoustic and a very powerful atmosphere all on its own. Yuko and I tend to think there's a possibly supernatural element involved, as Takayanagi spent his final years mostly performing here, but whether or not you put any stock in that, it's hard to deny the charged atmosphere and the superb acoustics, even via small portable speakers as Toshi used last year and as Annette and Otomo have used so far this week.

so why is this specifically relevant? because the previous 12 sets I'd seen here were all solo or duo, and tonight was a trio. in most rooms, that would barely be worth noting in and of itself, but tonight it became quite a factor. for whatever reason (and I'm still pondering the specifics of it myself), three accomplished musicians each playing individually fascinating sets simultaneously, combined with the powerful atmosphere, was borderline too much for me to process (a feeling I virtually never have at improvised music sets, unless it's a large group like MIMEO or Evan Parker's Electroacoustic Ensemble), and it was quite exciting as so much music these days is pretty much instantly processable.

6/11/09, Kid Ailack Art Hall, Tokyo: Annette Krebs/Otomo Yoshihide/Taku Unami

like the previous night, the group performed two sets with a short break in between. this is a nice luxury, especially for a first-time meeting like this one, as it allows the group to take two different angles on their performance if they choose.

Image

Annette's setup was pretty identical to the previous night. Unami was in the middle, seated at a small table and surrounded by four stringed instruments, a guitar on his lap, a mandolin on his table, a banjo in its case on the floor to his right and a contraguitar in its case on the floor to his left, no electronics in either set tonight. I thought this was quite beautiful in and of itself even without him there (this one picture was by me, not Yuko).

Otomo had an elaborate setup, a turntable on his right, a mixing board in the middle, and a few extremely primitive instruments on the left (one stringed instrument he didn't even know the name of, but he told me he had paid $30 for it new and the strings were just wire, not even real strings).

Image

first set: as with many first meetings, especially involving more than two people, this was a bit tentative. Annette and Unami have been playing together quite a bit recently, two days in Hamburg a few weeks ago, and quite a bit this week while she stays with him and they work on their CD. I felt that Otomo specifically had trouble finding his way in during this set, as it would have been quite easy for him to overpower their mostly small sounds, which he did occasionally for very short stretches, but he generally chose the route of supporting them with very subtle underpinnings, quiet drones generated from the empty turntable spinning, for instance. Krebs was in her usual pointillistic vein and chose this set to break out her frequently used 'Jagwar' sample, which she didn't ever delve into wholeheartedly, but even working around the edges of it, it's etched in my brain from numerous listens and I have issues with it, no matter the context.

Image

so I largely focused on Unami. what was fascinating was the range of sounds he was able to generate from these four instruments while using very little besides his fingers. whether it was plucking a note on one, then immediately answering it with a note from another, finger picking on the banjo, a constant worrying of two adjacent strings on the mandolin, dropping the lid of the banjo case and then later reopening it, he had a seemingly endless flow of ideas. it was consistently riveting and never overbearing and would have made a very compelling solo set in and of itself. when I asked him about the four instruments later, his immediate, amusing yet serious response was "Steve Howe of Yes is my favorite guitarist". I think it's safe to say no one would ever confuse the two. :D

they ended fluidly around 35-40 minutes in, pretty satisfying but not transcendent. if the night had just consisted of this, I would have felt like it was adequate but not special or memorable.

Image

second set: after a short break, the three reconvened. Unami began this set with a series of increasingly emphatic handclaps, which set the tone for a pretty wild set (Krebs described it afterwards as 'crazy'). Otomo followed Unami's lead, almost mimicking his handclaps with fist pounds on his equipment (bringing back memories of his set in the 2002 AMPLIFY with Gunter Muller, in which he cut his hand midset via similar pounding), violent actions resulting in loud rhythmic thuds. Krebs was also quite animated, standing up for the first time in the two nights, and waving a small transistor radio around as she varied the output. this chaos didn't last too long (maybe 8-10 minutes?) , and the trio returned to their more sporadic, individual event output, although now with the possibility of chaos again breaking out at any time always looming in the listener's mind.

Otomo fit in much better in this set, seemingly not worrying as much about fitting it and more comfortable after one set under his belt, and just going for it. Unami and Krebs both largely reverted back to the general areas they explored in the first set, although this time Krebs used newer samples, including one fantastic one of a friend of hers laughing that was quite creepy (Yuko said it gave her goosebumps). she also incorporated more musical samples, German singing of some kind, as opposed to the radio speaking voices she'd mostly used before this. the three somehow all came to a virtually simultaneous silence 30 minutes in, and that was that.

all in all, as I said at the beginning, it was mostly too much for me to process, but in a good way. my eyes and attention were drawn to each of the musicians alternately, and there was so much going on with each individually that it was hard to accurately assess the overall strength of the collaborative music. I'm reasonably confident that a listen to the recording would prove that it was a superb, superb set of music, though, and the audience was especially appreciative afterwards, it really felt like we'd witnessed something special.

Image

User avatar
Miguel Prado
Posts: 158
Joined: Tue Jun 10, 2008 5:58 pm
Location: Galicia
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Miguel Prado »

jon abbey wrote: "Steve Howe of Yes is my favorite guitarist". I think it's safe to say no one would ever confuse the two. :D
Muahahahah brilliant

User avatar
hatta
Posts: 1785
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 11:22 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by hatta »

Thanks for these reports Jon, I wish I was back in Kid Ailack Hall with you all. I agree about the setting of the hall, except I didn't feel any sort of supernatural element. Anyway sounds like some interesting shows. I do have one question though, while I feel you communicated quite well that you found the set a powerful experience I didn't get any sort of understanding of why this was compelling music. Handclaps, table pounding and random samples, just doesn't sound that interesting to me. Obviously music can't be described, etc but perhaps you can elaborate a bit more on how this sounded?
"Please everybody, if we haven't done what we could have done, we've tried"

User avatar
Dohol
Posts: 2885
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 3:47 pm
Location: In the heart of the evil empire..
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Dohol »

Jon, I'm really enjoying your travelogue of sounds...

Keep it coming.


And I'm looking forward to the pics..
“In a kind of middle-aged crisis, it dawned upon me that there was a possibility that music might not even be an art form.”

Morton Feldman


http://soundcloud.com/doug-holbrook

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by jon abbey »

hatta wrote:Thanks for these reports Jon, I wish I was back in Kid Ailack Hall with you all.
yeah, I miss Keith and you every time we come home through the Musashi-sakai station, definitely different being the only American at the shows and the uchiages this time.
I do have one question though, while I feel you communicated quite well that you found the set a powerful experience I didn't get any sort of understanding of why this was compelling music. Handclaps, table pounding and random samples, just doesn't sound that interesting to me. Obviously music can't be described, etc but perhaps you can elaborate a bit more on how this sounded?
yeah, sorry, I'm generally not so good at that as I usually tend to focus more on overall impressions than specifics. I made an effort especially during that second set to write specifics down for the sake of this report, but I think that might have come at the cost of somewhat interfering with my processing the overall set.

if it helps, it reminded me a bit of the Krebs/Hayward disc in which entirely unconnected sound worlds somehow combine to form a sum greater than the parts. this isn't entirely accurate, as sometimes I do think the three individuals were more directly connected/interacting in this case, but the source of the power seemed similar to me. maybe almost a trio AMM kind of effect (?), albeit without the suspension of time.

(also, Unami only did the handclapping occasionally, the bulk of the second set was on the four stringed instruments again, which I maybe didn't make perfectly clear).

User avatar
hatta
Posts: 1785
Joined: Mon May 12, 2008 11:22 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by hatta »

That does help Jon, thanks for the further details. I'm definitely really looking forward to the Krebs/Unami disc, I really think that could yield some unexpected and intriguing music. Anyway It is sounding like a pretty good set of shows, interesting to see several days worth of music with almost the same set of musicians.
"Please everybody, if we haven't done what we could have done, we've tried"

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by jon abbey »

6/12/09, Kid Ailack Art Hall, Tokyo: Annette Krebs/Sachiko M

the last night of this three night mini-festival saw Krebs and Sachiko reunited for their first show in 4-5 years (neither of them were quite sure about the specifics). when I was planning my AMPLIFY fest in 2004, Sachiko asked to do a duo set with Annette who she was a big fan of, and I agreed. the 2004 set had the unfortunate time slot (from my perspective) of directly preceding the jawdropping Rowe/Beins set that ended up being released as EL001 and was my favorite of the 40+ sets over those few weeks, so the rest of that night ended up largely erased from my memory, although I do keep meaning to revisit the recording at some point. anyway, that Annette/Sachiko set was Otomo's favorite set of the festival, though (the only people to witness the entire fest were myself, Yuko, Keith, Otomo, Sachiko and Toshi), and with my increased interest in Annette's work over the last few years and my ongoing high regard for Sachiko's, I was really looking forward to this meeting of two of my current favorite musicians.

Image

they began, Annette was set up identically to the two previous nights, Sachiko with her sine wave generator (no contact mikes tonight). initially, they seemed to be playing solo sets next to each other more than duo music. for the first two nights, Annette was the relatively "known quantity" with the other musicians moving their approach in order to try to best gel with her. in this case, that wasn't going to happen, as Sachiko isn't going to radically change her approach no matter the setting (as one can hear on discs like Sweet Cuts, Distant Curves and EL004).

so after ten minutes or so, Annette made the leap out of her normal approach to try to make the music coalesce overall (or so it seemed to me). she started working more with long, extended pure tones of her own (Sachiko was using these maybe 15-20 percent of the time, the rest of the time in 'Salon de Sachiko' cut-up mode), which meshed with and deepened Sachiko's sound, possibly a bit obvious but no less beautiful for that. this tactic, which only lasted a few minutes, made the rest of the set decidedly stronger and really impressed me as a superb on-the-fly macro decision from Annette.

Image

as the music continued, I marvelled at Sachiko's amazing ability to stay away from dull or dud sounds, just incredible, close to unrivalled touch in this area of music. whether she was producing rapid-fire blurts and rasps or patient, more slowly paced interjections, everything worked, as is almost always the case when she uses her primary instrument (the contact mikes are a different story at this point, as we've discussed in the past). as for Annette, her guitar was again entirely hidden from the audience on her lap (same as the previous nights), so it was hard to pin down exactly what she was doing most of the time. she was again quite animated, though, introducing long hisses or sampled thuds (among many other things) and just as quickly killing them.

at 35 minutes in, the music seemed to come to a relatively natural close, with both women gradually slowing down until they'd both come to a halt. however, after 20 seconds or so of combined silence, they started up again, and this was probably the most compelling combined stretch of the concert, making me wish there was a full-fledged second set as on the previous two nights. but after ten minutes more, they came to a second end and this time it was over, ending a very enjoyable and illuminating three nights of music.

Image

I'll be attending a couple more nights of shows while I'm here, at least two and possibly more, and will try to write those up also. tonight is a set by Takehiro Kawaguchi with an installation artist at Loop Line and I'm very curious to see him in action for the first time (his Hibari CD is maybe the strongest debut I've heard this year and we talked to him quite a bit last night), and next week is another Annette show, also at Loop Line, for which the specifics haven't been totally decided yet as far as I know.

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by jon abbey »

I edited in pix to the three reports.

User avatar
Jesse
Posts: 3613
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Jesse »

Enjoying the reportage, thanks Jon.
Yuko's photos are fantastic.
http://crowwithnomouth.wordpress.com/

Experimental music should be something that suggests a way of organizing your thinking, your attitude toward the world, which suggests that the world could be different.
Christian Wolff 2014

User avatar
Charon
Posts: 574
Joined: Sun May 11, 2008 1:55 am
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by Charon »

yes, thanks indeed for the photos yuko and jon for the words
Studious Avoidance - Badass electronic music

User avatar
jon abbey
Posts: 19017
Joined: Sat May 10, 2008 4:26 pm
Contact:

Re: Annette Krebs in Tokyo

Post by jon abbey »

so, as I wrote above, Annette's primary purpose in being in Japan was to record her Erst duo with Taku Unami. they'd never played in duo before (outside of a 5 minute piece in Osaka some years back), but have known each other a long time, and both have been extremely enthusiastic about/inspired by this pairing (even more than I expected/could have hoped for, I'm very happy about that). they spent a couple of days together in Hamburg last month, and have spent the last two weeks together in Japan, recording in Tokyo, then their shows in Kobe and Kyoto, and ending this afternoon again in Tokyo, at an audience-free Kid Ailack Hall.

today was my first chance to see/hear the duo in person (they preferred to work on their own until now, which I was happy to respect), and it was quite fascinating. along with the verbal descriptions from them as to what they've been up to so far and their specific plans for shaping the material into a record, I'm extremely excited to hear all of the recordings. my tendency is always to be very forthcoming with specifics about upcoming projects, but I think in this case, I'm going to leave it to people's imaginations for now, at least until after I get to spend some quality time with the recordings. I will say that Unami is doing things he's never tried before and that Annette's work today was decidedly different from any of the sets I saw her play earlier this week. here's one pic for now:

Image

Annette has one more show here before going back home on Friday, tomorrow night with Unami, Akiyama, Okura, Madoka Kouno and Satoshi Kanda in various combos yet to be determined, so I'll probably report back on that one also.