Photo: Bryony McIntyre

Takehisa Kosugi

Catch-Wave '05


21 May 2005  •  The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead


What we wrote at the time…


Kosugi is one of the most important sound artists and musicians Japan has produced in the past fifty years.  In 1960 he co-founded ‘Group Ongaku’, the first improvising group of musicians to break cover in Japan, whose performances were pitched directly against conventional creativities of the time.  His event pieces and performances merged into the New York Fluxus artists’ movement in the late 60s before informing the inception of the Taj Mahal Travellers, a loose collective of improvising jazzers and free rock pioneers, whose mind-bending slices of droning and ethereal improvisations are widely held as one of the key early invocations of the Japanese psychedelic rock scene. That heritage is of course impressive, but it’s the awe-inspiring physical experience of Kosugi’s pieces that should encourage the wary to try to catch his performance here.  We’re working with him to stage a new interpretation of Catch-Wave, his most famous piece.  And it really is something to behold; a mind expanding meditation on the relationships between invisible phenomena.  As the performance starts, Kosugi’s violin and vocals, processed through a battery of electronic devices, are slowly engulfed in a chasm of echo mediated by radio transmitters hung on wire that orbit over receivers, their gentle swaying motion setting off a cloud of fluctuating, hypnotic drones, in front of a backdrop of projected waves.  It can be a truly overwhelming experience, heightening your awareness of all that surrounds you.  It’s without doubt unlike anything you’re likely to have seen or heard before.