Ground Zero and Yoshihide Otomo

(Copyright © 1999-2020 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Ground-Zero , 6/10
Null & Void , 6.5/10
Revolutionary Pekinese Opera , 6.5/10
Yoshihide Otomo: Sound Factory , 7/10
Yoshihide Otomo: Vinyl Tranquilizer , 4/10
ISO: Gravity Clock (1998), 4/10
Yoshihide Otomo: Consume Red , 5/10
Yoshihide Otomo: Play Standards , 4/10
Yoshihide Otomo: Cathode , 5/10
Yoshihide Otomo: Anode , 7/10
Filament: Filament 1, 6/10
Filament: 29092000 , 4/10
New Jazz Ensemble: Flutter , 4/10
New Jazz Ensemble: Dreams , 6/10
Yoshihide Otomo: Turntables and Computers (2003), 6/10
Yoshihide Otomo: Prisoner (2007), 5/10

Ground Zero, the brainchild of guitarist and turntablist Yoshihide Otomo (Yoshihide is the first name), transposed Zeni Geva's noise-core to the age of sampling. Null Amd Void (1993) was typical of his symphonies of dissonances and samples. The three-part concerto of Anode (2001) came with instructions that recalled John Cage.

Otomo had debuted as a noise turntablist on Otomo Yoshihide (1987), Problem (1988) and a couple of collaborations with Junji Hirose (on self-made instruments). and was briefly a member of No Problem, as documented on No Problem (1990). He founded Ground Zero at the same time that he recorded Ground-0 No 0 (1991), Who Is Otomo Yoshihide? (1991), and Terminal-Zero (1991), and that he played with Kato Hideki's Player Piano, as documented on On the Edge of the Flame (1991). He continued to release music under his own name, whether We Insist? (1992), that featured a number of guests, including John Zorn, or live recordings like Memory Disorder (1993), or solo conceptual albums like The Night Before the Death of the Sampling Virus (1993).

If English is your first language and you could translate my old Italian text, please contact me.
Scroll down for recent reviews in English.
Ground Zero e` il progetto di Yoshihide Otomo (Otomo e` il cognome), chitarrista e sampler, appassionato di free jazz. Otomo viene scoperto da John Zorn a New York e riesce a registrare Ground-Zero (God Mountain, 1993 - Les Disques du Soleil), i cui brani suonano spesso come una revisione in chiave hardcore del free jazz e dei Soft Machine piu` dadaisti.

La passione di Otomo per il collage si esprime compiutamente sul disco dei Ground Zero intitolato Null & Void (Tzadik, 1993), che e` praticamente una sinfonia per dissonanze e campionamenti solo vagamente imparentata con le jam improvvisate del free jazz. L'uso dei giradischi e la preferenza per i toni ostici sembrano ispirati al musicista d'avanguardia David Shea. International I, una sequenza trascinante di micro-eventi sonori, e` tipico della pirotecnica armonica di questo disco.

Monogatari - Amino Argot (september 1994) is a long-distance collaboration between Carl Stone and Otomo.

Il programma dei Ground Zero assume l'aspetto di un saggio postmoderno su Revolutionary Pekinese Opera (march 1995), che campiona e ricostruisce un disco che a sua volta campionava l'opera di cui al titolo, infittendolo anche di commercials e colonne sonore televisivi. L'operazione di Otomo e` radicale, ma molto meno "artistica" di quella, per esempio, di Grassy Knoll.

Chipfarm (november 1994) was a collaboration among Optical-8 (a Japanese quartet led by Hoppy Kamiyama on electronics and samples, and Otomo on guitar and turntables), Japanese rockers Melt Banana, Elliot Sharp and Zeena Parkins.

The Blue Kite (april 1993), Summer Snow (november 1994) and The Day the Sun Turned Cold (Victor, 1995) are three of the many soundtracks composed by Otomo for the cinema. Other Otomo collaborations include All at Once at Any Time (1994) with drummer David Moss and guitarist John King, Cyberband (1994) with Richard Teitelbaum, Duo Improvisation (1996) with Yasuhiro Otani, and Twins (1996) with Bob Ostertag. Notably are Violin Music for Supermarkets (1994), Violin Music in the Age of Shopping (1995), Tatakiuri (1995) and Techno mit Storungen (1996) with violinist Jon Rose, Otomo was also a member of Peril with guitarist Michael Sheridan, bassist Thierry Fosmale, and drummer Tony Buck, a quartet that released several albums. Otomo's series "Memory Disorder" devoted to turntable and sampling wizardry peaked with the 57-minute piece of Melted Memory (1997) and the 32-minute Melted Memory II, off Rapid (1999).

La trilogia di Consume Red (january 1997) esagera forse l'idea, in quanto consta di un brano composto da Otomo per essere campionato da altri, la stessa idea che aveva gia` avuto Nick Didkovsky dei Dr Nerve. I campionamenti degli altri finiranno su Conflagration (march 1997).

Plays Standards (january 1997), di nuovo accreditato ai Ground Zero, e` un disco tanto pretenzioso quanto infantile di sole cover, una girandola di parodie di generi. I Residents pero` avevano fatto di meglio, senza bisogno di scomodare le macchine di campionamento.

(Clicka qua per la versione Italiana)

Sound Factory (april 1997), credited to Otomo in person, contains two 20-minute tracks for turntable: DD, a tornado of screeching and hissing in the name of the most brutal musique concrete ever conceived, and HK, a worthy heir to Morton Subotnick's electronic ping-pong music.

Otomo's Vinyl Tranquilizer (Noise Asia, february 1997) contains 60 tracks built on 60 samples of 60 different records.

Gravity Clock (february 1998), credited to ISO, a collaboration with sampling technician Sachiko M and rhythm technician Ichiraku Yoshimitsu.

The career of Otomo as a turntablist continued with Filament 1 (april 1998), a collaboration with Sachiko M on sampler (of the avantgarde ensemble I.S.O.), an experiment in electronic and digital noise that aims at creating massive sonic textures. Filament's third album, 29092000 (september 2000), following Secret Recordings (1999), documents a live performance for sampler, turntable and sine waves.

Otomo's Cathode (march 1999) is a pretentious set of compositions for others to play.

It was followed by Anode (june 2001), a more accomplished and occasionally imposing three-part concerto for noise (Taku Sugimoto on electric guitar, Annette Krebs on electro-acoustic guitar, Yoko Nishi on prepared koto, Tetuzi Akiyama on turntables, Sachiko M on electronics, and at least six percussionists) whose instructions recall John Cage (each movement contains instructions for the performers as to what and how they are allowed to play, with Otomo himself on guitar). The first movement (10:38) is simply an orgy of percussion: all instruments (and, presumably, whatever was available at the recording) is beaten and banged, turning the environment into a giant drum-kit. The second movement (13:06) is the exact opposite: a sparse, desolate stream of isolated, occasional, random sounds. The third movement (16:05) resorts to extreme dissonance, extreme contrasts and extreme dilation of time, but still in the context of a sparsely-populated soundscape.

More works for small chamber ensembles, prepared instruments and electronics, titled Cathode #3, Cathode #4 and Cathode #5, appear on Ensemble Cathode (Improvised Music From Japan, july 2001).

Bits, Bots and Signs (Erstwhile, march 2000) was a collaboration with Voice Crack.

Otomo plays guitar in the eleven-unit ensemble Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden, led by guitarist, saxophonist and keyboardist Naruyoshi Kikuchi, that recorded Report From Iron Mountain (P-Vine, 2002), a bizarre exercise in electronica, free-jazz and muzak (Mirror Ball).

Otomo, Keith Rowe and Taku Sugimoto recorded Ajar (december 1999), avantgarde music for three guitars. He has also recorded electroacoustic improvisations with Gunter Muller.

The New Jazz Ensemble, formed in 1999, includes vocalists Jun Togawa and Phew. They released: Flutter (Tzadik, february 2000), that interprets jazz standards, and Dreams (Tzadik, november 2001). A subset, the New Jazz Quintet, was credited with Pulser (2002), that collects recordings from 1975 to november 2002), New Jazz Quintet and Tatsuya Oe (january 2003), Short Density (january 2003), Tails Out (july 2003).

Invisible Architecture #1 (Audiosphere, july 2000) documents a live collaboration among Otomo and turntablists Philip Jeck and Martin Tetreault. Studio Analogique Numerique (Ambiances Magnetiques, november 2000) is another collaboration with Tetreault. Moving Parts (2000) is a collaboration with Christian Marclay, Thumb (2002) is a collaboration with Keith Rowe, Oren Ambarchi, Sachiko M, and Robbie Avenaim, Soup (2003) is a collaboration with Bill Laswell and Yasuhiro Yoshigaki, and Time Travel (2003) is a collaboration with Guenter Mueller.

Otomo's Blue (Weather, october 2001) is a movie soundtrack.

Turntables and Computers (Headz, march 2003), one 46-minute glitchy jam, is a collaboration between Nobukazu Takemura on laptop and Otomo on turntables.

The four albums Grrr (Ambiances Magnetiques, april 2003), TOK (2005), Ahhh (2005) and Hmmmm (2006) are the result of a collaboration between Martin Tetreault and Otomo, both on turntables.

Episome (Tzadik, december 2005) was the power-trio of Otomo (on electric guitar), Ruins' drummer Yoshida Tatsuya and bassist Bill Laswell.

Otomo the guitarist and band leader indulged in a post-electronic kind of free-jazz on New Jazz Orchestra (january 2005), that employed a 18-piece unit (including Axel Dorner and Mats Gustafsson) to perform some Otomo originals and some classic compositions (Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus), and on Plays Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch (Doubtmusic, 2006), with the New Jazz Orchestra performing one of jazz's all-time classics except that Dolphy's group was a quintet, whereas Otomo's ensemble consists of 15 musicians (including bamboo flute, tubes, sho, sinewaves, microphone, mixing board, computer).

The same mixture of free-jazz improvisations and jazz standards appears on Guitar Solo (Doubtmusic, october 2004).

Modulation With 2 Electric Guitars and 2 Amplifiers (may 2007 - Doubt Music, 2007) showed the extent of Otomo's science of sound with a 40-minute suite of noise a` la Lou Reed's Metal Machine Music.

The New Jazz Orchestra was documented on the double-disc Live Vol. 1 (Doubtmusic, september 2006) and Live Vol. 2 (Doubtmusic, september 2006).

Otomo's "solo" Prisoner (april 2006), originally conceived as a movie soundtrack, was a collection of noisy vignettes for electronics, turntables, guitars and assorted guests.

Otomo also conducted the performance of Masahiko Shimada's Miira Ni Naru Made (november 1999) for small ensemble (Fritz Ostermayer on vocals, Yagi Michiyo on koto, Andrea Neumann on piano, Taku Sugimoto on guitar, Ishikawa Ko on sho, Gunter Mueller on percussion and electronics, Sachiko M. on sinewaves, Eto Naoko on piano, Werner Dafeldecker on bass).

RegenOrchester XII (december 2006) was a quintet with Franz Hautzinger on quartertone trumpet, Christian Fennesz on guitar and computer, Otomo on turntables and guitar, bass and drums.

Report From Iron Mountain (P-Vine) debuted saxophonist, guitarist and keyboardist Naruyoshi Kikuchi's eleven-piece band Date Course Pentagon Royal Garden, featuring most of the New Jazz Quintet including Otomo on guitar.

Monte Alto Estate (Doubtmusic, 2009) was a collaboration between Otomo and the trio Sim (Oshima Teruyuki on guitar, Ootani Yosio on electronics and Ground Zero's drummer Uemura Mashiro).

The double-disc Good Morning Good Night (2011) documents a collaboration between Sachiko M (on sine wave sampler), Toshimaru Nakamura (on no-input mixing board), and Otomo (on sampler).

The triple-disc Rowe M Nakamura Yoshihide (recorded in may 2004) documents a live performance by Keith Rowe, Sachiko M (on sinewaves & contact microphone), Toshimaru Nakamura (on no-input mixing board), and Otomo (on electric guitar & turntables).

Big Can (Sub Jam, 2011) documents an improvised jam by Otomo, Sachiko M, Yan Jun and other Japanese and Chinese musicians.

Otomo's New Jazz Trio+ (ONJT+), featuring Mizutani Hiroaki on bass and Yoshigaki Yasuhiro on drums plus Sachiko M on sine waves and Jim O'Rourke on synth), debuted with two tributes: Bells (Doubtmusic, 2011) to Albert Ayler's classic album, and Lonely Woman (Doubtmusic, 2011) to Ornette Coleman's The Shape Of Jazz To Come.

Solo recordings include: EP Turntable Solo (2004), Sora (2007), Core Anode (2008) and even a Piano Solo (2013).

Ultra Miracle Love Story (2009) features a combo with pianist Naoko Eto, Kumiko Takara on marimba and vibraphone, Sachiko M on sinewaves and Ko Ishikawa on sho.

Collaborations include: Good Cop Bad Cop (2009) with Derek Bailey, Tony Bevan, and Paul Hession; 3-Part In(ter)ventions (2012) with Jim O'Rourke; and Quintet/Sextet (2013) with Sachiko M, Evan Parker, John Butcher, John Edwards and Tony Marsh.

The double-CD Improvisations Vol.1 (Magaibutsu) and the triple-CD Improvisations Vol.2 (Magaibutsu) collect jams by Ground Zero's guitarist Kazuhisa Uchihashi and the Ruins' drummer Tatsuya Yoshida for a grand total of 360 minutes, further expanded on Improvisations Vol.3 (Magaibutsu, 2009) and Barisshee (Tzadik, 2012).

Otomo Yoshihide & Paal Nilsson-Love (may 2013) contains an untitled 34-minute live improvisation.

Otomo's Guitar Solo 2015 LEFT (2015) contains covers of Charlie Haden's Song for Che and Ornette Coleman's Lonely Woman besides his own Blue Kite. Guitar Solo 2015 RIGHT (Doubtmusic, 2016) collects 123 guitar improvisations.

What is unique about this music database