The Wire


New underground music from Asia compiled by dj sniff

December 2017

Takuro Mizuta Lippit aka dj sniff talks through a playlist of exclusive tracks by artists associated with the Asian Meeting Festival

AMF (Asian Meeting Festival) was originally started by Otomo Yoshihide in 2005 as a showcase of independent musicians from China and Korea in Japan and a place where like-minded musicians could meet beyond language barriers and political tension between nations. In 2014, Yuen Chee Wai and myself took over the curating duties and have expanded the festival’s reach to Southeast Asia with the support of Japan Foundation. In 2017 we released Asian Meeting Recordings #1, which reunites some of artists that had met and played together for the first time in past editions of the festival. I put together this playlist with the hope to illustrate the unique practices of the artists we are involved with and the diversity of their music. In many Asian countries, experimental music and free improvisation are not established as genres or styles. Instead you have highly idiosyncratic musicians within more popular or traditional musical circles. To bring these musicians together and witness lively exchanges and wonderfully unpredictable music emerge has been more than amazing.

“Test Mix 1”
One of the first projects that emerged from AMF was FEN. Somewhat an all-star group of significant musician/organizer in the Asian experimental music scene, the band consists of Otomo Yoshihide (Tokyo), Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore), Yan Jun (Beijing), and Ryu Hankil (Seoul). Nearly 10 years since the their first concert, they have developed their own sound as a band. This an exclusive track mixed by Lasse Marhaug, eventually to be released next year.

Son X & Iman Jimbot
Asian Meeting Recordings #1 opens with a track by Son X from Hanoi and Jimbot from Bandung that highlights how improvisation and extended techniques plays significant roles in their practices in traditional music. This track is an outtake from the album with stark contrast between Jimbot’s more aggressive playing and Son X’s textural playing on his percussion kit.

Aung Kyaw Myo
“Ka Yin Aww”

During our research into Myanmar’s music scene, we met with Japanese sound engineer Hiroshi Iguchi who has been documenting traditional music from this region. One of his projects is recording the Burmese Piano – a unique adaptation of the piano into Myanmar traditional music, played by Aung Kyaw Myo.

“Offset Negative”

Everyone in Manila will tell you that Caliph8 has been holding experimental underground music down for years in the city. Internationally he is more know for his hip hop inspired production, but his live sets indulge in more extreme noise and free structure, which we had a chance to appreciate at AMF 2017.

His Hubris
“The Hysteric”

Saxophonist Yong Yandsen and electronic musician Sudarshan Chandra Kumar represent the small circle of musicians in Kuala Lumpur organizing a monthly improvised music event called SPIL (Serious Play Improv Lab). In interviews they both joke about small their audiences are and that no one comes back to their concerts, but in reality they serve as an important hub for both regional and international musicians on tour, which can be heard in their fluency and the unconventional ways they play their instruments.

Kok Siew-Wai, Ryoko Ono, Ai Watanabe
“Day 4, Take 3”
Kok Siew-Wai, another key figure in the experimental music and film community of Kuala Lumpur, met with Nagoya based saxophonist Ryoko Ono and electro-acoustic composer Ai Watanabe at AMF2014. This track is one of the takes from their reunion at GOK Sound three years later. Siew-Wai’s interaction with Pauline Oliveros and Tony Conrad during her earlier life in the United States has shaped her career path that balances between playing music, organising a festival, and teaching.

Nguyen Hong Giang
“Bittersweet G”
Ho Chi Minh city’s Nguyen Hong Giang will always introduce himself as a “pure” noise musician, and his countless self-releases make him one of the most prolific in Southeast Asia. However he is not your typical Japanoise bedroom otaku, but actually a key figure in Southern Vietnam’s independent music scene through his activities of producing hip hop tracks, writing post-rock songs, and recording for metal bands. This track is from his 2015 album, which features an array of local gangster rappers.

“What Remains Shall Be Forgotten Part IV”
Krisna Widiathama from Yogyakarta has been a central figure in the Indonesian noise music scene through various bands and projects. His solo project SODADOSA is the most aggressive and relentless. He is also the member of Jogja Noise Bombing, a collective that organizes DIY noise concerts in public spaces.

Ann Murazato
“Laser Beam”

23 years old Ann Murazato from Omuta city is one of Japan’s best kept secrets. Inspired by free jazz and free improvisation, she started playing the drums at the age of 16 and has developed chops to where she can go head-to-head with Okkyung Lee and Jojo Hiroshige. However her solo projects are utterly pop, with her doing everything from singing, playing synths, and triggering samples.

Tavito Nanao & skip skip ben ben
“Equally Precious”
Tavito Nanao from Tokyo and skip skip ben ben from Taipei are both popular singer-songwriters in each of their countries. They had played together in a large improvising ensemble at AMF 2016, but when we asked them to do something together for Asian Meeting Recordings #1, they decided to work on a theme about miscommunication and prepared lyrics in both Chinese and Japanese.

Words by dj sniff

dj sniff wrote an Epiphany for The Wire 406. Subscribers can access the full article via the online archive


Thanks DJ Sniff those tracks are the bomb!

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