Thursday, June 15th, ISSUE presents a rare evening with James Fei (analog electronics) and Kato Hideki (bass, electronics) in duo performance. Their practice is described by The Wire as “no casual knob twiddling -- [with] Kato’s sense of timing as dramatic as it was with Ikue Mori and Fred Frith in their storied trio group Death Ambient, and Fei approaching the business of making music with deadly earnestness.” The evening also sees the debut trio performance between Fei, Kato and and veteran NYC percussionist Sean Meehan.
James Fei and Kato Hideki have been working together since 2003. Stemming from a shared interest in translating studio recording techniques to live performance and vice-versa, the duo’s release Sieves (Improvised Music From Japan #522) consists of multiple sonic layers where live electronic improvisations are subjected to radical mixing and reverberation in an echo chamber. Their performance practice continues to shift over the years in their approach to analog electronics, feedback, acoustics and site-specificity.
Following the duo performance, Fei and Kato will be joined by percussionist Sean Meehan, who for many years has pared down his kit to a single snare drum and resonating objects. In addition to his influential solo work, Meehan’s collaborations have ranged widely from improvisations with Tamio Shiraishi at overlooked sites in New York to performing with Ellen Fullman’s Long String Instrument. The trio, longtime friends but performing together for the first time, shift in a “different direction” from the first set.
James Fei (b. Taipei, Taiwan) moved to the US in 1992 to study electrical engineering. He has since been active as a composer and performer on saxophones and live electronics. Works by Fei have been performed by the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of the S.E.M. Ensemble, Bang on a Can All-Stars, MATA Micro Orchestra and Noord-Hollands Philharmonisch Orkest. Recordings can be found on Leo Records, Improvised Music from Japan, CRI, Krabbesholm and Organized Sound. Compositions for Fei's own ensemble of four alto saxophones focus on physical processes of saliva, fatigue, reeds crippled by cuts and the threshold of audible sound production, while his sound installations and performance on live electronics often focus on feedback. He was a recipient of the 2014 award from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. Fei has taught at Mills College in Oakland since 2006, where he is John and Martha Davidson Professor of Electronic Arts.
Kato Hideki is a musician, composer, engineer and producer based in Brooklyn, NY. Originally from Nagoya, Japan, he studied creative writing at Waseda University and became a seminal member of the Tokyo music scene of the early 1990s. Since relocating to New York in 1992, he has composed and produced music that is often based on narrative elements and topical issues, utilizing a wide range of forms and sounds. Kato has released 14 albums, including three on Tzadik Records with his trio Death Ambient (with Fred Frith and Ikue Mori); Turbulent Zone (for solo electric bass with prime number tuning system); Tremolo of Joy, a composition based on magical reality for an acoustic ensemble with electronics; and OMNI (with Toshimaru Nakamura & Tetsuji Akiyama). In addition to his own projects, Kato has been an active collaborator with other composers, bands, interdisciplinary artists and choreographers, including Amorphous with John King, BEE LINE (with Billy Martin), Collapsible Shoulder (with Brian Chase, Chris Cochrane & Kevin Bud Jones), Nicolas Collins, Dying Ground (with Eyvind Kang), Karen Mantler, Christian Marclay, Yoshihide Otomo, Peril (with Tony Buck), Zeena Parkins, Jefferson Pinder, Ursula Scherrer and Takehiro Ueyama (TAKE Dance Company).He has received commissions from The Kitchen, the Swiss Institute Contemporary Art New York, La Mama, TAKE Dance and the Irondale Ensemble. He has been awarded residencies at Harvestworks Digital Media Arts Center and Headlands Center for the Arts. His music has been broadcasted on BBC3 and WNYC/NPR. Kato has taught at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering / Integrated Digital Media since 2010. http://www.katohideki.com/
Initially enlisted as a calypso drummer in his teens, Sean Meehan later began performing more experimental music in New York City in the late 1980s at the A Mica Bunker series for improvised music, located at the Anarchist’s Switchboard, and later at ABC No Rio. Since then he has performed in a variety of settings around the world. For nearly twenty years he and Tamio Shiraishi collaborated on their annual summer concert, always in different playful, devious and marginal locations throughout New York City. Some of these have been documented on the recordings In the City (2003); and Summer Concert 2002 and 2003 (2005). Central recordings include his duo with Sachiko M (2001); Sectors (2005) his double CD for solo snare drum; his duo with Ellen Fullman (2007); and iQue Horror!, two works for percussion (2017). Recent projects include Meehan Reads Helmholtz, an audio book of Hermann von Helmholtz’s classic text from 1863, On the Sensations of Tone, and a 2016 collaboration with Michelle Ellsworth on a series of concocted, self-help key chains to be intentionally lost, and hopefully found.
Photo: David Novak