Barely pausing to draw breath between the Donaufestival and the 10 years of Rhiz celebrations, I descended into the Stygian gloom of the Fluc Wanne for an event billed as the ‘Japanese New Music Festival’. This was a rather grandiose description for what was essentially a programme of solo and duo performances by the two Japanese musicians present (Makoto Kawabata of Acid Mothers Temple and Yoshida Tatsuya of Ruins), with a non-Japanese guest band (TV Buddhas) plonked somewhere in between. The possibility of more varied permutations was scuppered due to the absence through sickness of the third member of the troupe, Tsuyama Atsushi.
Despite the slimmed-down line-up, Kawabata and Tatsuya presented an extremely wide variety of sonic approaches; closing the eyes, one could easily have believed that there were more than just two people onstage. The evening began underwhelmingly, though, with a rather Fluxus duo performance during which the two men used bottles, vegetables and other unconventional “instruments” as sound sources. Clever, I sighed, and waited for the actual music to begin. And begin it did, splendidly so, as Tatsuya performed a solo drums set filled with complex, progressive textures. Don’t ask me how he did it, but the percussion was accompanied by guitar and keyboard sounds, all of which were somehow triggered by the drummer in real time.
Next up, Kawabata took the stage for a solo guitar set. The guitar was initially bowed, offering up clouds of extended drones that shifted and coalesced beautifully into each other. A simple folkish pattern was then sampled and looped, creating a sparkling basis from which Kawabata brought forth dense clusters of electric activity.
The evening then took a somewhat surreal turn. A space in front of the stage was cleared, and TV Buddhas set up their stall in the round, facing down the audience at the same level. A male/female guitar/drums duo, TV Buddhas bore a certain family resemblance to the White Stripes, but it quickly became clear that they were able to reach far deeper into the well of inspiration than that blighted couple. The group’s set hovered adroitly between rock and noise, often teetering on the brink of freeform workouts before being hauled back into the realm of disciplined, focused activity. With the guitarist and drummer both a matter of inches away from the audience, their playing reached out easily and made an immensely favourable impression.
Rounding off the night in fine style, Kawabata and Tatsuya joined forces again for a fast-paced, frenetic and gloriously loud set as Acid Mothers Temple. A brisk walk home from Praterstern and the evening was done.