I met SUGAI KEN a few years ago in Tokyo, outside the Dommune radio studios. His personality and music, a very special brand, touched me. His music is a coded vision of a dream world. A trade that is progressive yet traditional - in the most positive sense of the word.
Recently out of the blue, Sugai San sent me a collection of personal field recordings he made of folklore groups and public performances in Tokyo, Toyama, Kanagawa, Kyoto, Tottori, … The close listener already knows that Sugai San’s aesthetics speak of a great knowledge of these performing arts.
An open invitation: “the traditional local performing arts in the 21st century intrinsically conceive “fragility” as they are vulnerable to extinction. The Japanese local performing arts that appear in this recording is no exception, endangered by the declining birth rate and aging population which are typical to the country. (SUGAI KEN)”
I bring the original recordings into conversation with new elements (corresponding field recordings and or additional percussion and strings, performed by Antwerp musicians Jeroen Stevens and Roman Hiele) like a ‘monomane’ - tr. imitating – sound game. But when i throw these old and new figurines together on the podium, the objects immediately disappear in the cracks of the stage wood. Thus only the understament of the suggestion remains. And relentlessly the significance of every movement now becomes a question.
Furthermore, what’s in focus? The manipulation? Or the content? Or are we zooming in on the aspect of archiving ~ preserving? Dubious.
In KAGIROI – tr. heat haze - people coexist for a moment severely carved in time like a high contrast still of dancing flames. When you bring this composition home, it will never boil yet merely evaporate. And when you gaze at the clouds of condensed droplets inside your own darkness, on a soft volume, You complete our puzzle.
released March 29, 2021
SUGAI KEN - field recordings, liner notes
Lieven Martens - collage, additional sounds and field recordings
Jeroen Stevens - additional percussion
Roman Hiele - double bass, mastering
Kohei Oyamada - liner notes translation
Jeroen Wille - artwork