Otomo Yoshihide

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Otomo Yoshihide, born in 1959 in Yokohama, is one of the most creative figures in Japan’s current experimental scene. His projects always emerge as exciting new combinations of musical genres and styles in connection with live electronics. He gained his first musical experiences with sound collages which he produced on tape recorders with open spools. He became an enthusiastic fan of Free Jazz, to which he now gives priority in his playing. In 1979 Otomo begins his university studies in Tokyo. He attends seminars on ethnomusicology and plunges into subjects such as Japan’s popular music during World War Two and the development of Chinese musical instruments during the Cultural Revolution. In 1981 he joins a team of researchers investigating ethnic music on the South Chinese island of Hainan. His career as a professional musician begins that same year: Otomo regularly performs free improvisations at “Goodman”, a live music club in Tokyo. In 1987 his musical activities begin to gain in intensity. He plays frequently with the saxophonist J. Hirose, as well as in groups such as “No Problem”, ORT, “Player Piano”, etc.. In 1990 he starts his own band, “Ground-0” (later “Ground Zero”), which formed the central basis for Otomo’s creative work until it broke up in 1998. Since 1991 he has regularly given guest performances with various formations of musicians, outside Japan as well (in December 1991 he gave his first performance in Berlin). Otomo often forms new groups for special projects: the “Double Unit Orchestra”, “Celluloid Machine Gun” (for music in the style of Hong Kong movies), “Mosquito Paper” (recitation of prose texts with music), etc. Otomo combines all these activities in projects such as “Revolutionary Pekinese Opera”, “Consume” and “Sampling Virus Project”. The latter applies sampling processes to musical works which are then distributed to the musicians. The sampling has the effect of a computer virus: it penetrates the works, duplicates and transforms them so that new creations emerge. Otomo’s sound has changed markedly since the end of “Ground Zero” in 1998. In his trio I.S.O. and the duo “Filament“ with Sachiko M. he places more weight on simplicity, minimalism and texture rather than the extreme fragmenting and plundering of sounds (“plagiaristic sampling” which used to be typical of him. At the same time, since 1999 Otomo has been developing new possibilities for acoustic instruments and electronics with his New Jazz Quintet, which harks back to the jazz of the fifties to seventies (e. g. Ch. Mingus), using contemporary concepts of sound textures (onkyô). And in the project “Cathode” he attempts to fuse experimental electronic music with traditional Japanese music. Otomo’s versatility can be seen in the fact that he has also composed soundtracks for films and television movies and for theatre musicians (the theatre ensemble “Rinkogun”), as well as publishing his ideas on many issues regarding music and the music business in journals and books.
Author: Heinz-Dieter Reese

Works

Difference Between the Two Clocks

Published Audio,
2008
Textile

The Multiple Otomo Project

Published Audio,
2007
CD+DVD. Asphodel (ALIVE)

Onjq Live in Lisbon

Published Audio,
2006
Clean Feed/Nrw Records (NRW)

Soup Live

Published Audio,
2006
Pony Canyon

Grrr Tok Ahhh Hmmm

Published Audio,
2005
Ambiances Magnétiques

Ahhh

Published Audio,
2005
Ambiances Magnétiques

Tok

Published Audio,
2005
Ambiances Magnétiques

Soup

Published Audio,
2004
P-Vine Japan

Tails Out

Published Audio,
2004
Disk Union

Les Hautes Solitudes

Published Audio,
2002
Taku Sugimoto, Taku Sugimoto und Yoshihide Otomo

Dreams

Published Audio,
2002
Tzadik (SunnyMoon)

Pilgrimage

Published Audio,
1999
Tzadik

21 Situations

Published Audio,
1999
Ambiances Magnétiques

Plays the Music of Takeo Yamashita

Published Audio,
1999
Pony Canyon

Past

Published Audio,
1996
Tzadik

P53

Published Audio,
1996
Recommended Records

All at Once at Any Time

Published Audio,
1995
Victo

Night Before Death of Sampling Virus

Published Audio,
1993
Extreme

Projects

This artist took part in the following project(s) organized/funded by the culturebase.net partner institutions.

transonic 2003

new sound experience

(10 January 03 - 30 January 03)

Www

Otomo Yoshihide on myspace

video

Excerpt from Transonic 2003

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