Friday, November 11, 2011

Otomo Vs. Marclay: Heavyweight Turntablists Reunite For NYC Concert

Before it was a standard in early rap, hip hop and DJ sets, turntablism—the purposeful manipulation of records against the phonographic needle—was long part of avant-garde music making. Two modern day masters of the genre, Christian Marclay and Otomo Yoshihide, bring the artform to new heights, spinning, looping, skipping and scratching a wild combination of free jazz, noise rock, sound collages, and controlled cacophony.

Hailing from Yokohama, Japan, Otomo played around with electronic devices as a teenager thanks to his engineer father. His interest in music started with creating sound collages out of tape recorders, playing guitar in a high school band and eventually falling in love with free jazz. After graduating from Meiji University studying ethnomusical history, he performed throughout Japan with a wide range of musicians and formed his most well-known group, Ground Zero, in the early 90s. Since then, Otomo has gone on to work solo and with many other artists to create sound experiments, and was most recently involved with Project Fukushima!, a performance festival supporting of the victims of the nuclear disaster affecting the region where he grew up.

Marclay is widely accepted as the progenitor of turntablism as high art. In early experiments, he broke vinyl records and assembled the different parts, forging mashed up music accompanied by rhythmic noises from the physical imperfections. More recent work includes Guitar Drag, consisting of a hooked up electric guitar dragged across the ground by a pickup truck and its consequent sounds blasted out of a large amp, and the epic, internationally acclaimed 24-hour long video, The Clock, winner of the prestigious Golden Lion award.

Otomo and Marclay perform together in NYC for the first time in over a decade in a one-night-only concert jam at Japan Society November 19 (part of Performa 2011). Before taking the stage, the two artists take part in a pre-concert discussion with musician, writer, and curator Alan Licht and ethnomusicologist David Novak.

In addition, Otomo exhibits his installation piece Without Records, an homage to Marclay’s album Record Without a Cover, on view for the first time outside Japan November 17-20.

There are many samples of Otomo’s and Marclay’s work on YouTube. Some highlights:

--Sean Tomizawa

No comments: