Ki: Mico, Tamio Shiraishi & Fritz Welch


21 Mar 2009  •  The Arches, Glasgow

A dynamic blare combined from really distinct, interesting approaches: Tamio's screaming, un-listening and immovable slabs of sound; Mico's dance/ performance/ (sometimes delicate) piano; Fritz's absurd, flailing percussion/ voice. 

KI (pronounced "key") is a Japanese word with many homonyms, such as tree, mind, gas, opportunity, period, etc. It is also a ripping new trio featuring Tamio Shiraishi  (an original member of Keiji Haino’s ferocious Fushitsusha project, and super influential sax player), Mico (long-time collaborator of Tamio’s, and a member of the No-Neck Blues Band where she brings an air of physicality, movement and sax/ cymbal action to proceedings (Matt Heyner (of No-Neck) told me that the first time Mico played with them she immediately stood on her head, totally bringing a whole new understanding of movement and performance to the group.)), and Fritz Welch (founding member of Peeesseye: an amalgam of free jazz, shambolic rock and inspired glossolalia  (You know ‘speaking in tongues’.)


In musical terms it takes in sound poetry, abstract vocalization and the like.  Gabbering, have I said that already?)).What are they doing? Instead of grunting blasts of noise or super complex extended techniques, Tamio bites down hard and coaxes tones that resemble a dog-whistle, a boiling kettle or piercing birdcalls. (If not birdcalls, then certainly something that seriously pisses birds off, as we found out on our Shadowed Spaces tour, where Tamio was constantly dive-bombed, and in Cumbernauld managed to fill a previously empty sky with what looked like about 100 angry seagulls.) He’s either on or off.  He has a great sense of space around his sound, placing it just where it needs to go amongst longer periods of inaction.  Very rarely, he also sings, always the same Kamikaze death song.  Mico adds an acute sense of drama (dropped cymbals, jarring piano and a doubling up on sax to further intertwine upper-register squeals).  Fritz adds a loose percussive clatter and really inspired vocal gabbering.  There’s a nice (loose) theme of abstract vocals at the fest, of which this is the highest energy, punk setting.


Why is it interesting?


We’ve done quite a few performances with Tamio in the past: he was on our Shadowed Spaces tour in 2007, during which time I had the pleasure of seeing him in maybe 10+ combinations of solos, duos and trios.  The thing that I remember most about those, what I really appreciated, was/is a kind of immovable object quality to his playing.  It just is.  It’s just there and maybe he couldn’t really care less whether you hear it or not.  It’s sort of monolithic.  In this aspect it reminds me very much of the playing and improvising of Takehisa Kosugi, the great Fluxus artist and one of the very first improvising musicians in Japan.  Kosugi has this ability to just fundamentally not listen, to go about his own tasks and to focus on his own sound; if it’s not unique then it’s rare, and becoming rarer (maybe it’s a generational thing).  I see and like this in Tamio too.  And I really love it.

  • Audio

  • Video Clip 1

  • Video Clip 2

    Credits / license
    • CC BY-NC-ND 4.0