The inaugural concert, despite an hour-long delay while P.A. issues were remedied, was as good as any I have presented to date. The set order – Zeh solo, Hong solo, a little space, then a 25 minute duo, had an impeccable flow. It was Zeh and Hong’s first meeting; Hong had sent Zeh sound files of his acoustic turntable work, which Zeh integrated into their duo- at times in a near call-and-response fashion, and, more subtly, processed in the manner Zeh has been refining and redefining for years – smeared, stretched, chopped and meticulously repurposed. The duo’s set had a ballast maintained by mutual restraint and reciprocity.
Hong’s set for acoustic turntable held that occasional delight offered by the finest improvisers – the sense of his acute attunement to the performance space, and an uncanny array of sonic effects that had several listeners (this one among them, seated 15 feet from Hong) convinced he had included some electronics in the turntable preparations. He had not, and told me the next day, laughing, he has no idea how he produces some of the extreme sounds heard.
Jason Zeh is doing nonpareil work with tape, at least as far as these ears have heard; his solo set was the current iteration of a work-in-progress, a new form for Zeh – a dramatically episodic, almost suite-like structure, with a jaw-dropping, gorgeous slab of droneage near the end extrapolated from the magnetic coils of tape machines.
Of course both musicians work with machine spoilage – broken and gutted electronic detritus, teased and tested to the max. That they met hours before their debut duo set and connected so intuitively, and musically, was remarkable. There is, happily, discussion of another collaboration.
photo: hong chulki/jason zeh duo set. cwnm, february 15 2013 (charles gillett)
crow with no mouth is pleased to announce its inaugural concert of the 2013 season – Hong Chulki (Seoul), in his first visit to the U.S., and the return of Jason Zeh (Kansas City, Missouri), who performed in the cwnm 2011 series.
I first became aware of Hong’s music in 2008, when a generous package of Seoul-based noise and improvised music, documented mainly on the Balloon & Needle, Manual and Celdon labels (also Seoul-based) arrived in the mail from my friend William Ashline, a professor at Yonsei University, and long-time listener of improvised music. A small crew of collaborative musicians, performing in an improbably tiny venue, Dotolim, were beginning to generate some positive chatter among experimental music listeners around the world. This core collective – Choi Joonyong, Ryu Hankil. Jin Sangtae, Lee Hangjun, Park Seung Jun, two U.S. ex-pats who adopted Seoul as their home town, Joe Foster and Kevin Parks, and our special guest Hong Chulki – were making authentically risky music, often boisterous, subversive, even compellingly ugly.
Serving as a sonic antithesis to much of the reduced, micro-minimal sounds issuing from the Seoul group’s occasional collaborators from Tokyo, Vienna, and elsewhere, e.g., Sachiko M, Klaus Filip, and Jason Kahn, Hong and his compatriots create a sui generis ruckus by means of hacked, gutted and otherwise repurposed junk. Typewriters, clockworks, cartridge-less turntables, CD player entrails – all are investigated for their sound possibilities. I have written twice about this music coming out of Seoul over the past several years, saying in June 2011 …[this music] is made of nearly every ugly sonic byproduct you can imagine issuing from the mechanized, throw-away toys of our time, with meticulous attention to the piece’s overall shape, sound placement and the player’s conjoining of elements.
This is Hong Chulki’s first visit to the United States, and a rare opportunity to hear a musician engaged in an area of improvisation I hear as … neither simply going for your throat, nor studied and airless enough to be regarded as academic; they love that ugly produce, so much so they set aside the lap-tops and guitars they’ve all been associated with to bring the roughness, the rudeness and the ruckus.
I first heard Jason Zeh in 2006, at a poorly-attended show in a record store in Minneapolis slated for foreclosure. On an evening consisting of 5 or 6 sets played to largely listless attendees seated on forensically-stained shag carpeting between rows of rock & roll vinyl bins, Zeh delivered a brief improvised collage, manically manipulating at least seven cassette players of varying vintages; it was brilliant, and I returned home to search the internet for pointers to his music. Finding nothing, I was excited, five years hence, when Zeh agreed to come to Minneapolis to perform on a mini-tour with Jason Kahn and Mike Shiflet. In his second appearance in a crow with no mouth concert, Zeh will offer a solo set, and a duo with Hong, whom he will meet for the first time when he arrives.
In November 2011, I wrote: I want to get after you all a little to look into the music of a tape composer from Bowling Green, Ohio; Jason Zeh has been focused for some years on making intimate, meticulously crafted sound works by every means possible within the medium of cassettes. Zeh shares aspects of an overlapping sensibility with Jason Lescalleet and, specifically in his predilection for nearly entombing rich sonic details in tape-murk, Graham Lambkin.
It is my great pleasure to present Hong Chulki and Jason Zeh together on February 15, an auspicious opening for the 2013 series.
The three-year anniversary of my blog, crow with no mouth, is also in that week of February, so we will celebrate this music with a few special treats.