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GROUP ONGAKU - Music Of Group Ongaku

SEER Sound Archive

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"Group ONGAKU, founded mainly by students at Tokyo National University of Fine Art & Music, was the 1st collective musical improvisation group. The group began their activities in 1958, & from the naming of the group in 1960 onward continued until somewhere around 1962. They attempted to create acoustics corresponding to actual time & space by means of collective improvisation. Although methodically different, the music that they pursued incidentally shared common directions with contemporaries such as John Cage & other involved in the avant-garde artist collective of Fluxus. - Takako Okamoto, taken from original liner notes.

"Three wild & woolly scrambling tracks that melt nodes. Dished are dropped, vacuum cleaners get fried, saxes, organs & cellos howl, Group Ongaku were doing it all when the only other cosmic acolyte on the scene was Alan Watts. And these recordings-laid down a couple of years AHEAD of Big Als acid jabber- make This Is It sound like the lysergic soundtrack to Hello Dolly! by comparison. Concurrently, these primal articulations bear the distinction of sounding like the COMPLETE Nurse With Wound List playing at once.. And when you realize that said posse includes Airway, Cromagnon, Don Bradshaw Leather & Throbbing Gristle among its formidable ranks, then one must understand that what is passing between their ears is an aural Excalibur of avant/experimental freakdom that almost no one knew existed. A staggering & crucial lost piece to the ever burgeoning puzzle of the weird." - Phinneas Barbital, author, Cracks Inside Planet Brain (forthcoming, 2011).

"Those familiar w/Julian Copes seminal Japrocksampler will recognize the name Group Ongaku as the cornerstone of the 32 page entry, "Experimental Japan. Simply put, this collective was edenic as the foundation of fusing avant classical input with organic,improvisational output, thus forging a singular Minimalist sound on par w/similar, radical outre composition that was taking place in the West at the same time (Cage & Stockhausens work in particular). That members of Group Ongaku would later be instrumental in founding Japans Fluxus movement as well as form the legendary Taj Mahal Travellers seems almost elementary.And while to some these recording might sound archaic, their importance can never be understated or denied. Recorded in 1960 & 61 respectively, these 3 tracks were original 1st released on CD in a small edition in 1996. Long thought to be impossible to replicate onto vinyl due to time constraints (side 1 is practically 35 minutes in length), new technology in Japanese audio restoration has made it possible for Music Of Group Ongaku to finally see a proper LP release. And the sound is most exhilarating.  Personnel is as follows; Takehisa Kosugi (violin, sax, tape), Chieko Shiomi (piano), Mikio Tojima (cello), Yasunao Tone (sax, tape), Genichi Tsuge (guitar), Shukou Mizuno (cello, drums tape)  Japanese import, includes English language insert, edition of 300." - SEER Sound Archive.

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