Slowscan’s latest, a stunning, remastered vinyl edition of Takehisa Kosugi’s New York, August 14, 1991 – expanded to include an entire second LP of recordings made by the composer with Ted Szànto in Amsterdam during 1979 – Bristles with energy, physicality, and immediacy, representing a highwater mark from one of the most important experimental composers of the last 100 years.
* Edition of 400 copies. Remastered audio * Of all the incredible artists to have emerged from Japan’s thriving scenes of avant-garde and experimental music, it is hard to call to mind a figure as iconic, visionary, or influential as the composer and performer Takehisa Kosugi. His work represents ground zero for nearly everything that has followed in its wake. Surprisingly, despite his position in history, Kosugi’s discography remains relatively underpopulated, with the majority of its scarce offerings almost impossible to obtain. In addition to incredible sounds, this positions Slowscan’s newly remastered and expanded LP – New York, August 14, 1991 – as an incredibly important event. Not only does it present the best sounding release of these recordings to date, but it expands to a double LP, with a never before issued series of recordings – Unnamed Information (I, II, III) – created with the vastly under-appreciated composer Ted Szànto in 1979. Yet another crucial offering from Slowscan that towers with historical importance, this one is impossible to recommend enough.
Takehisa Kosugi, who sadly passed away in 2018, first emerged onto Japan’s avant-garde music scene during the 1960s as a meter of the country’s first improvisational music collective, Group Ongaku, as well as being an important contributor to the Fluxus movement. In 1969, he founded the seminal outfit, The Taj Mahal Travellers – leaving his mark on the wilder avenues of psychedelia forever – before, in 1975, embarking on his first solo album, Catch Wave, easily among the most important and influential statements in all of experimental music.
Over the late 70s and across the 80s and 90s, Kosugi produced a small number of solo releases – partially due to his focus on live performance and general ambivalence regarding the value of audio documentation – as well as an equally slim number of collaborations with seminal figures like Toshi Ichiyanagi, Michael Ranta, Steve Lacy, Yuji Takahashi, Akio Suzuki, and a handful of others. Slowscan’s newly remastered and expanded LP, New York, August 14, 1991, roughly straddles the period of his greatest output, comprising stunning lives recordings from 1991 and 1979 respectively.
The first LP in the collections captures the composer performing live in his apartment in New York, and represents one of only a handful of authorized recordings of its kind. Utilizing pre-recorded environmental sounds recorded in the city of Ferrara, in Italy, various noises, sounds from the actual performance [a plastic bottle in which a small microphone is installed for pick up voice & other sounds], electronics, and a time-delay machine and pitch shifter, the work channels Kosugi’s long-standing desire to realign and revitalize human sensibility by jolting the mind through the operations of chance and spontaneity. The result is a startlingly visionary body of sound that stretches across 2 sides, gathering intricate, environmental ambiances and captured sonic fragments, deftly manipulated and infiltrated by electronic pulses and various other interventions, toward an immersive and cohesive sonic environment, that drowns the ear in sheets of detail.
The second LP in this collection comprised a never before released recording of a live improvisation made by Kosugi and the composer, Ted Szànto, entitled Unnamed Information (I, II, III), made in Amsterdam on June 12, 1979, that features Kosugi on violin & electronics and Szànto on tapes & electronics. Bordering on an ecstatic sonic assault of the highest order, the work’s 3 movements range from incredible arrangements of electronic noise and tonality to a stunning effort of vocalising musique concrete – all constructed with an incredible sense of immediacy and physicality – making the album easily one of the most noteworthy recordings from Kosugi to have emerged thus far.