Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Special #2: Reports from the Enban Summer Festival. Day 1, #2: Takahiro Hirama (平間貴大)

Who: 平間貴大 (Takahiro Hirama)

Ever since I moved to Tokyo, I've seen Hirama-kun making trouble wherever he goes. Frying the transistors of the Fender amp at Enban,  injecting drum machine presets into delicate improvised textures at Grid 605 (that was during his drum machine phase), throwing stones at a pile of tapes as Madoka Kono made sophisticated casette player drones, somehow failing to play his own CD from a CD player at the release party for said CD, frustrating the audience with misdirection in a prepared guitar performance where he merely turned the amp of an on. I could go on.

And yet his constant inventiveness means that occasionally, he turns out an absolute gem of a performance which a less frustrating artist could probably never realize. His standout show to my mind was when he brought a sheet of glass, a wedge, a handheld plastic fan and a pack of cotton buds to Enban. He proceeded to balance the glass sheet on the wedge, taped the fan beneath the glass and then threw the cotton buds one by one on to the glass. At first nothing happened, but the laws of probability dictated that one side of the glass would eventually accumulate more cotton buds than the other. When this tipping point was reached, the glass started to rock on the wedge until it hit the fan producing a sharp buzzing noise once each oscillation. In my opinion, the performance  was really a master class in minimal music. The concept was clear, the materials limited, the time was set by the finite number of cotton buds in the pack. And yet the sound produced was complex.

Lately, Hirama has been turning more to computerised sound sources. His performance at the Enban summer festival on Saturday consisted of running the word "no" through the Google translate speech generator for a number of different languages. The 6th floor lounge of O-nest was filled with layers of synthesized voices, coming in and out of phase as the successive "no"s, "non"s, "nein"s, etc, were translated. It was definitely one of his more musical performances.

This youtube link from a recording of a performance at the now defunct loopline is  fairly representative of his style, but there are a number of clips of Hirama on line, some of them dealing with his involvement in the New Methodist Art Group (no relation to the Christian denomination).

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