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22/05/2013

Plapla Pinky at Villette Sonique on Saturday 25th May

A great piece of news that is sure to please a good number of you: Plapla Pinky are playing at the Villette Sonique festival on Saturday 25th May at 7pm.

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Yudaya Jazz

Yudaya Jazz

What if beauty suddenly sprang from the superposition of the video of black American singer Minnie Riperton singing ‘Loving You’ with a scene from the film of Hitchcock’s The Birds? What could possibly come out of mixing some old 45s of a child playing an analogue synthesizer with a video showing a Sumatran vegetable seller accompanying his pitch on a small plastic piano? Sensory discoveries, collisions of meaning, these are the moments of miraculous chance that the video-artist Dai Soma (better known under the name Yudaza Jazz) searches for.

Yudaya Jazz mixes and synchronises images and sounds on a set of turntables equipped to mix DVDs, also using a camera and microphone to capture performers in real time, as well as a few audiovisual effects for enhancement. This set-up means he has a palette of images and an infinite variety of sounds and textures at the tips of his fingers. The compositional work is always carried out on stage, live, with nothing repeated or prepared, because the exquisite instants Yudaya Jazz looks for can only be the product of the fragile and the momentary.

Dai Soma remembers being fascinated as a child by an old Kamishibai (paper theatre) storyteller, who improvised stories by showing a procession of his drawings to astonished spectators. Later, Dai Soma began making his own films and showing them in a cinema that he hired in Tokyo. Finding the repetition of the same projection extremely boring, he started to play with the sound effects of the films, upsetting spectators and the owner alike. He obstinately continued in this direction and sought out his audience in Tokyo clubs.

Dai Soma is a front-row spectator at his own audiovisual performances, always looking for the unexpected moment, the subtle variation that turns everything on its head. He is excited by the risk of manipulating images live, the random nature of the editing. In love with all types of audiovisual devices, audio cassettes, VHS, 45s, DVDs or MPEG files, Dai Soma is not however an obsessive collector. He’s not interested in conceptualising his art and cares little whether the results are pop or avant-garde. What counts is to bring about the aesthetic moment capable of surprising him himself.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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YMCK

YMCK

At the beginning of 2008, YMCK took on the stature of an international group. Their first two albums, Family Music (2004) and Family Racing (2005) were both released on Usagi-Chang (Sonic Coaster Pop, Macdonald Duck Eclair, PINE*am), an independent representing a new Japanese electronic pop scene that was taking over from the declining “Shibuya-kei” movement. YMCK surprised a lot of people when they announced that they were releasing their third album Family Genesis on Avex Trax, a phenomenally powerful Japanese label with a mass market policy (Ayumi Hamasaki, Kumi Koda, Namie Amuro). Did this mean a new niche strategy for Avex? The news shook up the independents.

The video games consol Famicom (Family Computer Disk System) is known outside Asia as NES (Nintendo Entertainment System). It’s a sweet memory in the tender years of many young adults across the globe: the charm of a pixellised world of monophonic music. Today, this universe, which influences numerous artists, is known under the sobriquet “8-bit” in homage to the microprocessors of the first computers and video games consoles of the 1970s and 80s. This is the world that YMCK have set about extending. And who knows where they’ll end up with it?

Yokemura (musical programming), Nakamura (visual programming) and Midori (vocals and scenography) brought out their first CD-R in 2003. At the beginning, Yokemura wanted to produce original electronic music, but soon fed up of the techno/house fare in vogue at the time, he chose to take another direction altogether. He wanted to manipulate simple sounds and create a “picopico” style, clickety and poppy. He found the ideal raw materials for his music in the world of early 1980s video games. Yokemura was clever enough to avoid the clichés; his main influence is jazz in any case. As you can imagine, his approach has taken YMCK well beyond video game music.

Constraints stimulate creativity. Out of a limited visual and musical aesthetic, the YMCK imagination has run riot. Burningly balanced ternary rhythms support majestic surges of synth choruses. Midori adds a suave, vaporous voice and space voyage airhostess chic to the ensemble. The coherence and quality of the visuals developed by Nakamura indicate that the music is only the first stage in an ever-expanding YMCK world.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Tatsuya Yoshida

Tatsuya Yoshida

A real octopus, Tatsuya Yoshida began the drums at the beginning of the 1980s. 25 years later, he has become a truly polyrhythmic monster with syncopated respiration. An initiate in progressive music from high-school days, Tatsuya Yoshida listened to Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Camel and This Heat. Although he cites his main influence as Christian Vander and Magma’s Kobaïan operatic choruses and interlaced phrasing, Tatsuya Yoshida also mines other seams to create a new, complex and concentrated style, incorporating the expressivity of prog rock, the freedom of jazz and the energy of punk.

The foundations of Japanese independent and alternative music were born in the Eighties. Tatsuya Yoshida was already playing in the group YBO2 beside Masashi Kitamura and K.K. Null (Zeni Geva) when, in 1985, he formed a duo, Ruins, with just bass and drums. Four bass players came and went: Hideki Kawamoto, Kazuyoshi Kimoto, Ryuichi Masuda and Hisashi Sasaki. With the departure of his last bassist, Tatsuya Yoshida set out on a quest for a new pretender, but abandoned his mission, unable to find a candidate up to the job. The music Ruins were creating had become so complex that electronic machines were now Tatsuya Yoshida’s ideal partner.

Ruins then became Ruins Alone. Like syrup or strong alcohol, Ruins make music that makes you grimace. Ruins is a lab of the Tatsuya Yoshida stamp, a direct interface between his brain and his drumsticks. You could get 15 rock records out of one Ruins album, just by adding a bit of fizzy water. Each composition could be developed in many different directions. Tatsuya Yoshida plays in over 20 groups; he needs to, to sustain sufficient space for his overflowing creativity.

Tatsuya Yoshida has worked with some of the greatest improvisers on the planet, such as John Zorn, Fred Frith or Derek Bailey. Today, above and beyond the Ruins Alone project, Tatsuya Yoshida is the composer and drummer both in Korekyojinn, an instrumental trio that pushes polyrhythmic complexity to its ultimate limits, and the Koenji Hyakkei ensemble, a quasi-orchestral formation that bridges the gap between prog rock and contemporary music. In his time out from music, Monsieur Yoshida compulsively photographs stones. He travels the world in search of the mineral beauty of monumental statues and the millennial energy of rocks.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Paradise Yamamoto

Paradise Yamamoto

Mambonsai is a new pop culture pastime that involves decorating bonsais with small plastic figurines. Bonsais, miniature trees, bound and cultivated in pots, are part of Japanese cultural heritage. No surprise then that Mambonsai is seen as heresy by the purists. But at the end of the day the activity is perhaps not all that absurd. Much in the way you might place little plastic people alongside model electric trains, Mambonsai requires a little scenographic imagination. The aim is to recreate a slice of life, ordinary or strange, inspired by the forms of dwarfed trees.

Mambonsai won the best new idea award at the Japan Hobby Association in 2001 and the number of adepts has been growing round the world ever since. As an activity, it lightens the weight of tradition in the art of bonsai. It appeals to all ages and only requires a good dose of humour. Invented in the fertile mind of Tokyo Panorama Mambo Boys percussionist, Paradise Yamamoto, Mambonsai is a portmanteau word that reflects his passion for two diametrically opposed worlds: the mambo and bonsais. A Master of Mambonsai, Paradise Yamamoto makes regular TV appearances in Japan to share his enthusiasm in public.

Paradise Yamamoto is an unusual character. Born in 1962 in Sapporo in Hokkaido in the north of Japan, he began his career as a car designer but quickly developed skills in half a dozen other disciplines. A great Mambonsai master of course but also an expert in bath salts, a critic of “luxury” eat-as-much-as-you-can buffets, a connoisseur of gyoza (Chinese ravioli) and, proudest of all, the first Santa in Japan to be accredited by the World Santa Claus Congress, based in Greenland. An atypical career that Paradise Yamamoto cultivates with natural good humour and aesthetic tastes.

Several works have been published on the elfish art of Mambonsai. Photos of these pastoral scenes are a real delight. Hole in One is of a group of golfers absorbed in the game on a carpet of moss, Capturing Bin Laden ~ Just Round the Corner shows the capture of public enemy number 1 at the summit of a miniature rock and in 2020 A Space Odyssey a team of scientists clad in anti-bacterial suits analyse huge extraterrestrial mushrooms.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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Michiyo Yagi

Michiyo Yagi

After rubbing shoulders with the American avant-garde and, in particular, John Cage with whom she taught, Michiyo Yagi went back to the koto, a traditional Japanese instrument related to the cithara. She breathes into this instrument expressivity of unsuspected force and develops her harmonic potential into virgin musical lands. She has played with the avant-garde (Ruins, John Zorn, Zena Parkins), in traditional Japanese music groups, has appeared worldwide in Hoaio (with Haco and Sachiko M) and Kokoo, and has taken part in the album made by the pure techno pop marketing product techno pop vivant that is the singer Ayumi Hamasaki.

Although she grew up to the sound of the koto played by her mother, far from accepting its presence and sound as evidence, Michiyo Yagi, during her formative years, considered this instrument to be an object that demanded a lot of work, a prisoner of a fossilized repertoire with slight harmonic potential compared to that of western classical music.

The eminent traditional apprenticeship that she followed did not really give her any opportunity to blossom in her own musical environment: living at her teacher’s home, in the company of her co-pupils, she performed the daily chores of cleaning, washing and cooking, viewed as equally important as the lessons themselves. During the rare public performances, still be their teacher’s side, the disciples had to pay him for the privilege of playing by his side. Rigid in the extreme, this teaching was, however, the first step towards an expanded conception of music, with her teacher Kazue Sawai being the true pioneer of a traditional Japanese music that was open to experimentation and modern compositions.

In 1989, she appeared as part of the Sawai group at the Bang On A Can Festival at New York, where she was struck by a work for percussion by John Cage that shattered her compartmentalized conceptions of "tradition" and "modernity". In 1991 during one year as guest teacher at the Wesleyan university (Connecticut), where Cage also taught, she helped create several pieces with, amongst others, John Zorn and Christian Wolff, and helped in the extraordinary prolixity of the young students, whose pared down creations (mixing Balinese dances and western music) had a profound effect on her and persuaded her to write her own works.

On her return from the United States, her personal approach to composition the rules of the game that she was discovering did not sit well with the immutable teaching of Sawai and Yagi chose the breakaway route to independence. Her style was initially characterized by an unusual strength, a expressivity with a power that was almost masculine. As a logical extension of her robust finger plectrum, she sometimes has recourse to small hammers and hooks to strike her instrument’s strings, insisting on their percussive potential. This is also how she discovered the polyphonic potential of the koto produced by phantom vibrations of the vibrating strings on the strings at rest, giving rise to subterranean motifs and melodies.

The aim of some of Yagi’s research is a new form of “Japaneseness”, a modernity that is free from the influence of the West and the accepted homage, but these great plans do not stop her taking pleasure in exploring repertories that are over 400 years old …

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

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Yuichi Kishino

Yuichi Kishino

A cross-genre symbol, in the same way as the penises, with which the young girls are portrayed on the canvases of Henry Darger, the moustache stuck under the nose of La Veuve Moustachue creates confusion. Confusion of the sexes – a black dress, a little hat and a veil as a sign of mourning– and confusion of styles, promoted by the particular flavor of the game played by Yuichi Kishino, who brings together comedy and tragedy, evening news and poetry, optimism and despair.

Public comedian, musician, cinema actor, critic and teacher at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music, Yuichi Kishino was born in Tokyo in 1963. His family raised him to enjoy and respect the theatre and the popular arts that were so specific to ancestral Japan.

Very active on the Japanese musical scene, he has played in several groups, including Watts Towers and Space Ponch, and directs his own label - Out One Disc – which has produced the CD Les Vacances de… La Veuve Moustachue.

For La Veuve Moustachue, Kishino dresses up as a transvestite on the stage, but, in real life, is neither gay nor a drag-queen. This is the style he has chosen to depict their scenes of predilection, such as the universal feelings of love and loss or the lack of communication in the world today.

During his appearances, he improvises cues whilst Yoko accompanies on the piano. Very quickly, this changes and gradually becomes part of the context of written songs, before regaining his freedom. These two areas cross-infect and it is soon hard to tell them apart : we do not know what has been composed and what has just been invented. It is this tension that gives the performance so much charm.

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

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Yuko Nexus6

Yuko Nexus6

Having falling into electronic music almost by accident, Yuko Nexus6 has been able to retain her unique and constantly renewed attitude without ever having to have take the easy way out that is technology. During her concerts, she always remembers that she is a performer; with a desire to avoid her audience having to frown in front of computer screens, she adds interactive elements to her music that leave the door open to the unforeseen, grains of sand that take her towards an intelligent, living composition.

Yuko Nexus6 is living in Hikone, between Osaka and Nagoya. Part time lecturer at a couple of Art and Science universities around Nagoya, she spends most of her time writing articles for the Internet and creating music for her unique style of performance.

15 years ago, almost by accident, a sudden change happened in her career when she started making “music”, using a Macintosh placed at her disposal at her job. She amused herself by installing a simple music software program in order to personalize her computer - until the day she got fired when her employer found out about her non-productive manipulations!

Yuko is a “banpaku-kid”, a child of the Universal Exposition generation of Osaka 1970. This futurist display exhibited in Osaka remains inscribed in her memory as a witness to a future both technological and happy. Psychedelic fashion, exuberant architecture and electronic music offered a vision of the future that was both optimistic and comfortable. Today, these young people, now adults, question this technology that has penetrated the most intimate aspects of their life: where is the happiness, or the radiant joy emanating from the technological promise made 30 years ago?

Fortunate disjunctures always permit her to lightly approach such a-priori dense musical concepts as time-based composition and interactive music. During her concerts, she always keeps in mind the idea of the performance. Conscious of the unspectacular dryness of an artist in front of her computer, she is constantly inventing and adding little elements like grains of sand that derail her music towards something alive and astute.

Nowadays, she is a prolific and internationally recognized sound artist. Yuko Nexus6 has been the subject of numerous interviews and citations, most recently in David Toop’s historical survey of electronic music, “Haunted Weather”. In 2003 she received the Digital Music Honorary Mention in Europe’s prestigious Prix Ars Electronica competition with Journal de Tokyo her third solo album on Sonore.

In August 2005, Sonore releases her fifth solo and new album Nexus6 Song Book. Singing jazz, folk and traditional standards in Japanese, English and German, Yuko Nexus6 processes her voice using the most high-tech devices as well as the cheapest recording gadgets.

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

Download Yuko Nexus6 music on: iTunes, Beatport, Juno Download

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