Originally released in 1980 and changing hands for silly money ever since, "New Sense of Hearing" is a complex collision of two Japanese improvisational titans: Fluxus member and John Cage collaborator Takehisa Kosugi, and legendary instrument builder and sound artist Akio Suzuki. Rippling drones, chaotic percussion and bonkers homemade electronics - basically essential listening.
Akio Suzuki regarded himself as a sound researcher fascinated by the acoustic properties of spaces, building instruments that allowed him to study and analyze reverb patterns and echoes, and the difference in tone various spaces prompted. "I want people to use all their senses and open their eyes to appreciate the complexity of their surroundings," he explained. Group Ongaku member and Fluxus-affiliated artist Takehisa Kosugi is more widely known, and was equally as motivated by the echo as an artistic concept, using the violin as his primary instrument but driving it through various effects. His 1975-released album "Catch-Wave" is the best example of this, matching the tape-echoed violin against disorienting oscillator wobbles on the half-hour 'Mano Dharma '74'.
The two sonic adventurers convened in 1979 at Tokyo's Aeolian Hall: Kosugi was armed with a radio transmitter, violin and microphone, and Suzuki brought along his handmade instruments, a glass harmonica, plus the spring cong, the kikkokikiriki, and the analapos, an echo instrument made from large drums that incorporated long coiled springs. Completely improvised, the recording captures a unique almost hour-long head-to-head that's as virtuosic as it is completely exploratory. Kosugi's stop-start violin technique picks out the space in a way that drones can only suggest, while Suzuki's strange organic and electronic echoes link the music to early electronic experimentation and the initial experimentation of Kraut heroes Kluster.
Different from Kosugi's earlier recordings, "New Sense of Hearing" sounds as if it's inspired by Suzuki's technique, and allows the space necessary to feel the architecture of the venue itself. Anyone interested in the outer zones of site-specific improvisational music - for example Limpe Fuchs, and her work with sculptor Paul Fuchs as Anima - needs to check this one. The reissue industrial complex is at the point of self combustion, for sure, but this one's a keeper.