Outside the Outside: Yasuhito Fujinami and the Underground World of Japanoise Music
    • THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2016

    • Posted by: Cam Phillips

    In a world centered around pop and approachable linear music, the outsider phenomena of harsh noise music maintains its own separate solar system; free from the shackles of commercial coverage, stadium laden audiences or high sellers on the iTunes store top 10. Its merits and existence instead rely on the musical world of the underground, where the practice of tape trading and rotation sits parallel with a deeply rooted sense of DIY ethics and morals.

    Part punk, part statement, and part art, noise music was originally conceived through several different parental and influential channels, ranging from art movements such as Dada and Fluxus, the use of feedback and heavy distortion from more conventional bands through the 60's and the tongue in cheek yet interesting Metal Machine Music by Lou Reed, released through commercial label RCA in the 70's.

    These all helped carve the structure and appearance of modern noise music into what it is and what it has become; but what has it become? Well, thanks to the wonders of the Internet and the way music can be accessed by the click of a button, noise music is now at its most accessible. That is by no means saying it will climb any charts, but new lights have been shone into the corners of otherwise impenetrable sections of the underground music scene; showcasing completely unknown artists and their outsider practices of music and art making.

    But when the Internet was in its crawling phrase, noise music had already decided upon its central location, a place so influential that it developed into its own side genre of music... That place was Japan. And none other was chosen to helm the newly developed 'Japanoise' genre than the mysterious and un-conventional artist Merzbow, whose practice centered on lengthy improvised compositional pieces of crunching and loud noise music with no structure, no melody and next to no musical form at all.
    As a musician, Merzbow continues to stand as a controversial figure in the underground, creating art and music that pushes the boundaries of tradition to create ear splintering and unrestrained noise, while simultaneously being the most recognized (and perhaps most celebrated) modern Japanoise musician.

    But that doesn't mean he is the best.

    Nor does it mean he's the most interesting.

    In fact, many talented, original and engaging noise musicians are eclipsed with the moniker of Merzbow. Everybody thinks that noise musicians record four albums in between breakfast with no restraint or desire for alternative artistic appeal like the man himself; but how wrong they are.

    Enter Yasuhito Fujinami; a Japanoise artist who builds upon the harsh grind of Merzbow style un-concentrated noise with synths, 'junk', microphones, electronics and more instruments not generally associated with the genre. Situated in Saitama, Japan, Fujinami releases music through his BandCamp and SoundCloud pages producing powerful and wild harsh noise that connects back with the cover art featured on each release. Said cover art primarily centers on distant and industrial pictures and abstractions; a kind of pictorial representation of the breed of multi-dimensional noise music.

    To some, Fujinami will sound no different to Merzbow, and to those I say that while they sound similar, it is the form of the sound in which Fujinami truly shines. This form is the layout of the sound and the noise; crafted neatly to interact with the listener in an oral experience rather than a passive pastime. With this in mind, Fujinami's musical output does what all great noise music should do; it crosses the preverbal line between art and music, becoming something more likened to a demonstrative performance piece that links in with the stark art featured on the cover rather than a simple and direct form of music.

    The artist himself relates the music he makes to the noise of society and culture and that one may in fact reflect the other, while maintaining that noise music and its offspring genres have always stayed true to what is known as 'anti-music'.

    How would you define noise music?

    Noise is a kind of pleasure that is an art of anti-art and disappears without destroying existing arts and destroying its own.

    As a noise musician, who are your main influences?

    Japanese "Killer Bug" (Kazumoto endo), Merzbow (Masami Akita), K2 (Kimihide kusafuka).

    How long have you been making music for? And what inspires you to do so?

    I have been making music for about 10 years. I cannot put up with the noise of this country, society. So I want to regain silence with my noise.

    Your practice incorporates synth and 'junk' among other instruments; does this give the music another dimension than simply using an FX board?

    I use almost all analog circuit instruments. This is because it produces noisy, organic, noisy noises. By combining them with metal junk you can grow to a more brutal monster.

    Who is a noteworthy noise musician who may be more unknown than they should be?
    "Encephalophonic" (Emanuele Bonini) in Italy.

    What is the noise scene in Japan like compared to the rest of the world?

    Japan can be said to be a religion. I believe that it became soil that produces limitless and extreme noise compared to other areas.

    So you are a fan of Merzbow?

    Of course, the live noise I saw for the first time was Merzbow.

    How did you view the recent splits Merzbow has been involved with such as the Full of Hell/Merzbow album? Do you think noise could traverse over to other genres?

    Masami Akita (Merzbow) said in an article that he found a Full of Hell album on YouTube and decided to make an album with them; he is constantly drawing on the chemical reaction between himself and another genre and is searching for it. He collaborates with many bands, so I'm not surprised.

    Where is noise music as a genre going?

    As a global trend of noise, cut-up Hirsch noise is approaching the breakcore. Also, HNW (Harsh Noise Wall) can be regarded as minimal music, so I think that the polarization of complex noise and simple noise will advance with this.

    More info HERE.

    Also check out that time Baeble Music experimented with different genres, including Japanoise:

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