Boomkat Product Review:
New music ensemble Eye Music interpret ‘Sapporo’, a seminal, minimalist, graphic score by Toshi Ichiyanagi - the elder statesman of Japanese avant-garde composition, who was famously married to Yoko Ono during the late ‘50s
‘Sapporo’ is considered a classic of the ‘60s trend towards graphic notation, which emerged in the wake of Webernian serialism, and from the intersection of west and eastern musical philosophies catalysed by John Cage, as a way of freeing up music in key with the social, sexual, economic and political revolutions of that important post-WWII era.
The piece requires each performer - in this case Eye Music’s 11-piece ensemble employing everything from analog synths to psaltery bow and umeboshi pit, and kitchen faucets - to play from one page of graphic notation, with each performer aleatorically synching at some point in the piece, but hardly ever at the same points in any two performances.
In effect it’s totally open-ended, with no fixed start or finish point, with this 2006 recording going to just over 50 minutes, whereas previous iterations have lasted only 15 minutes. According to the score’s long, straight lines denoting sustained tones, angular lines describing glissando, and dashes calling for short sounds, the piece if played at slower paces, naturally opens out to reveal long pauses amid its naturally gentle topography, where plateaus intersect sliding descents and elide with inclines and a range of punctuating ephemera, recalling the graceful logic of a Japanese garden turning from dusk to night.