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Major pan-Asian experimental music project launched

Ensembles Asia is an ambitious new initiative launched by Tokyo’s Otomo Yoshihide and Hong Kong’s Takuro Mizuta Lippit aka DJ Sniff

Ensembles Asia is an ambitious new initiative launched by Tokyo’s Otomo Yoshihide and Hong Kong’s Takuro Mizuta Lippit aka DJ Sniff. According to Sniff, “This is a large scale project with which we aim to connect independent music communities throughout Asia during the next seven years.”

The project has three components: the Asian Music Network, which will link experimental and underground musicians across the Pacific Rim region; Asian Sounds Research, which will film and record the region’s experimental music and whose project director is Otomo’s regular collaborator Sachiko M; and The Ensembles Asia Orchestra.

The project’s first public outing is the Asian Meeting Festival which takes place in Tokyo on 6 and 7 February and will feature performances by The Ensembles Asia Orchestra, which is made up of underground and experimental musicians from Hong Kong, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Bangok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, Tokyo and Osaka. This will be followed on 8 February by a concert by the same musicians in Kyoto, and on 11 February by a symposium on the subject of experimental music in Asia as well as a concert by Otomo, Sniff, Sachiko M and others at Tokyo’s NTT InterCommunication Center (ICC), which is currently hosting the exhibition Otomo Yoshihide: Between Music And Art (reviewed in The Wire 372).

The Asian Meeting Festival will also host a screening of Adythia Utama’s documentary Bising: Noise And Experimental Music In Indonesia and will be preceded on 5 February by a debriefing session hosted by Tokyo’s Japan Foundation that will present the results of the Ensembles Asia project’s 2014 research trips to the Philippines and Indonesia.

Meanwhile, DJ Sniff has just posted a mixtape online featuring most of the festival’s participating musicians.

More information here


Always quite unsettling to see geopolitical categories used as an aesthetic/organizational device. Being "Asian" is hip and innocuous in current neoliberal imaginations, so this initiative will likely just attract the attention's of global erudite listeners, ready to appreciate the latest instance of "Asian" people doing experimental music. Equally unsettling is when artists cannot find better semiotic resources than self-orientalizing pan-Asian nationalism to frame their latest bunch of projects and tours. What is an Asian musician? Is this an ensemble based on fictive ethnic categories? Where does Asia end? Makes me want to set up the Pan-Aryan Orchestra...

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