reissue of Siwa #6 in screenprinted gatefold sleeve. First released
on LP in 2000 in an edition of 300 which sold out pretty much overnight.
Three tracks recorded at Kid Ailack Art Hall in Tokyo in the late
90's. Just over 40 minutes of solo improvisations for er-hu, voice,
kengali, rings, cymbals. The recording has been remastered for the
digital format but contains the same material as the original LP.
Mukai is best known in the West, if at all, as the leader of Japan's
most otherworldly dream psych-pop unit Ché-SHIZU. In that group,
her gorgeous work on er-hu (a traditional two-stringed bowed Chinese
instrument), sliding up and down through the cracks in conventional
tonality, melds perfectly with the trembling naiveté of her
vocals. It's a unique sound, immensely personal, and immediately identifiable.
However, Mukai also has a lengthy complementary, though much less
well-known, career as a solo performer and improviser dating back
to her time in the East Bionic Symphonia in the late 70's (trainspotters
might also want to note her peripheral involvement with the LAFMS
scene). On any given week in Tokyo, you're likely to find her collaborating
in a basement somewhere with like-minded multimedia creators, butoh
dancers, musicians, performance and visual artists, installationists...
Each December she organizes Perspective Emotion, a full-on festival
of multi and mixed media performance.
In recent years, Ché-SHIZU has fallen into inactivity and Mukai's
adventures in the improvised mode have come to take on a far greater
importance to her. These previously shadowy activities have finally
attained some proper sunlit documentation - most notably, the love-hate
dynamics of her showdown with Masayoshi Urabe (Dual Anarchism, on
Siwa); her collaborations with Ramones Young, the obviously alcohol-inspired
attempt to meld Ramones covers with a Lamonte Young methodology; and
the Enkidu unit with Eric Cordier and Sei'ichi Yamamoto.
But while all of these are just fine and dandy, for the full unadulterated
Mukai experience, you really have to hear her playing solo, expanding
soul and sense and touch to fill space. Which is why it is such an
unadulterated pleasure to have this SIWA album, her first release
outside of Japan, back in print. Three longish pieces, all recorded
live in the late nineties. There's a far fuller drone sound to
her er-hu here, compared to that on her previous solo release (Kokyu
Improvisation, on PSF), a wavering intensity that pulls your brain
straight into a sensation-dulled trance. And with none of the evil
wince often associated with solo violin improvs, you're free to fully
appreciate the fractional control and deep humming resonance of the
instrument. It's a beguiling sound, seeming to combine both earth
and air in one eternal thrumming, shimmering pull of gut on steel
string. Mukai augments the sound with an occasional percussion crash,
and a verse or two of wordless higher-mind vocalization. What more
could a human ask for? This is sumptuous late-night improv, a fine
goose-feather pillow for addled minds everywhere."
Excerpt from track 2