Sharawaji is the beauty that occurs with no discernible order or arrangement.
Satoshi Takeishi and Hans Tammen are creating an unheard world of bizarre textures and polyrhythmic machinations. Dark, sometimes brooding ensemble passages mix and mingle with extended solo cadenzas, creating layers of intensity, at times unsettling, frantic and anti-sentimental. Fiery and energetic passages mixed and mingled with extended solo cadenzas are in turn electronically captured, fragmenting and otherwise transforming their percussion and guitar sounds, processed into radically contrastive and fascinating noises emanating from Hans Tammen’s interactive software.
“When atoms are travelling straight down through empty space by their own weight, at quite indeterminate times and places, they swerve ever so little from their course, just so much that you could call it a change of direction. If it were not for this swerve, everything would fall downwards through the abyss of space. No collision would have taken place and no impact of atom on atom would have been created. Thus nature would never have created anything.”
Satoshi Takeishi – percussion
Hans Tammen – endangered guitar, guitar and percussion live sound processing
All compositions by Satoshi Takeishi and Hans Tammen
Recorded March 21, 2012 at Harvestworks Digital Media Art Center, New York, USA
Recording engineer Paul Howells
Produced and mastered by Satoshi Takeishi and Hans Tammen
Photo by Cinoby/iStockPhoto
The somewhat enigmatic word “sharawadgi” was first introduced by the well-known English statesman and essayist Sir William Temple; even if he thought it was Chinese, he used this Japanese word in order to reflect on an aesthetic concept, which didn’t really belong to European culture in those days. According to Temple’s own words in his famous essay “Upon The Gardens of Epicurus”, the Chinese’s “greatest reach of imagination, is employed in contriving figures, where the beauty shall be great, and strike the eye, but without any order or disposition of parts, that shall be commonly or easily observed. And though we have hardly any notion of this sort of beauty, yet they have a particular word to express it; and where they find it hit their eye at first sight, they say the Sharawadgi is fine or is admirable, or any such expression of esteem”. Later the word became almost a fashion – it was widely used to describe Japanese paintings or even kimonos – and nowadays it is the name the New York-based musicians Satoshi Takeishi – quite known drummer, percussionist and arranger in the improvisational NY scene – and Hans Tammen that for a decade have been played together in a number of formations, have chosen for this amazing electroacoustic project. Their sound could seem exotic to the followers of the releases by clang, but it makes sense considering the explorative aesthetic path the label has followed from the very first release. The release includes seven amazing improvisations that the duo recorded in New York in 2012 that wrap a bunch of fine and sometimes hiccuping percussive phrases into likewise amazingly bizarre and weird entities that is synthesized by a software for sound processing by Tammen, the tracks range in length from miniatures such as Shaman and Athetize to longer explorations that take on the qualities of a proper, sonic rite such as Sateen.
Sound of Music
Behind the name Sharawaji we find the Japanese percussionist Satoshi Takeishi and German guitarist Hans Tammen, both active in New York. The eponymous album was recorded in March 2012 and released as a download on the Danish label Clang.
It is thus about a duo of percussion and guitar (with the addition of electronics). The music is rhythmically driven but also has an element of suspense that is of an almost cosmic quality. Tammen’s guitar, “endangered” as he calls it, refuses to sound like a traditional guitar and this makes the sound somewhat unusual. Additionally, Tammen processes Takeishi’s percussion in real-time and this further contributes to the strange sound-world that meet the listener.
The seven improvisations build either around rhythmic patterns or a condition and it is quite fast-paced music without for that matter being agitated or chaotic. At times it almost sounds as a ritual with its repetitive percussion, only to become atmospheric with floating guitar sounds. Tammen often lets his guitar provide the colours while Takeishi moves the music forwards, but they strike a delicate balance and support each other in developing the music. You never get the feeling that one is leading the other.
Sharawaji is an exciting duo that plays an unusual music. The sound is very special and the interaction shows a common understanding of where the music is going. This makes Sharawaji an accessible yet adventurous album that arouses curiosity.
The project Sharawaji is made up of two leading representatives of the New York scene of experimental and improvised music: Satoshi Takeishi (drums) and Hans Tammen (prepared guitar and prepared percussion). The musicians have collaborated in various configurations over the last ten years. Tammen is known among other from the production of his own instruments (the endangered guitar), and his compositions are characterised by a myriad of contrasts which are often built on the basis of unusual solutions (eg. soldering and joining of various components during performances). The album “Sharawaji” was recorded in 2012 in New York and contains some extraordinary improvisations that are embellished with polyrhythmic structures. The album presents a very interesting sum total of Tammen’s interactive software and the warm and velvety sound of Takeishi’s drums. At times barely audible and with ambient noise, the duo Sharawaji develops the music into an increasingly dynamic form that is supported by the eruption of unique background sounds.