Artist Profile
Otomo Yoshihide
Tokyo, Japan

since the very beginning of his career, Otomo Yoshihide has been virtually impossible to categorize. Working on the absolute fringes of so many different styles that even his biggest followers must have lost track years ago, he’s continually refused to sit still long enough for anyone to pin him down. His roots are in improvisatory jazz, which he started playing at an early age. From his earliest days playing in some quasi-traditional free jazz groups throughout Japan, he quickly moved on, expanding his interests into noise collages and sampler-based music.

Yoshihide first found prominence with his group Ground Zero, a defiantly noisy amalgam of jazz, rock, and the avant-garde that was completely unlike any of those three, and decidedly not fusion either. The group shattered minds with their five phenomenal albums, before disbanding in 1998. But even while a member of Ground Zero, Yoshihide never limited himself to one project, as his increasingly unstoppable flow of releases throughout the late 90s and early 00s has demonstrated. Encompassing turntable-based noise (Sound Factory), abstract, on-the-edge-of-hearing sine wave music with frequent collaborator Sachiko M (Filament 1), or a return to jazz with his New Jazz Quintet, his music at the turn of the millennium has been a never-ending stream of innovation and exploration.

Yoshihide has also been increasingly working in a group context, becoming a major player on the international Improv scene. His records with electronic manipulators Voice Crack and Gunter Muller on a pair of Erstwhile Records collaborations show a musician willing to stretch out even further than ever in his attempts to discover new sounds and styles. Wherever Yoshihide’s restless muse takes him in the future, it will doubtless be to totally new areas of music, heretofore unexplored corners where this innovator can settle in and carve out his own unique niche.

Quick Facts:

Location: Tokyo, Japan

Style: Improv, avant-garde jazz, noise, minimal electronic music

Labels Appeared On: Extreme, Blast First, Tzadik, Erstwhile, Sonic Factory, Amoebic, ReR, NANI/disk, Gentle Giant, God Mountain, Tanga Tanga, Three Blind Mice, Alcohol, IMJ, Audiosphere

Major Releases:

Moon Ray (Three Blind Mice, 1977)
Silanganan Ingay (Tanga Tanga, 1989)
We Insist? (Sonic Factory, 1992)
The Night Before the Death of the Sampling Virus (Extreme, 1993)
[Ground Zero] Ground Zero (God Mountain, 1993)
[Ground Zero] Null & Void (Tzadik, 1995)
[Ground Zero] Revolutionary Peking Opera (ReR, 1996)
[Ground Zero] Consume Red (ReR, 1996)
[Ground Zero] Plays Standards (NANI/disk, 1997)
Vinyl Tranquilizer (Sonic Factory, 1997)
Sound Factory (Gentle Giant, 1997)
[I.S.O.] Gravity Clock (Amoebic, 1998)
Cathode (Tzadik, 1999)
[with Sachiko M] Filament 1 (Extreme, 1999)
[I.S.O.] I.S.O. (Alcohol, 1999)
[with Voice Crack] Bits, Bots, & Signs (Erstwhile, 2000)
[with New Jazz Quintet] Flutter (Tzadik, 2001)
Anode (Tzadik, 2001)
[with Philip Jeck & Martin Tetreault] Invisible Architecture #1 (Audiosphere, 2002)
[with New Jazz Ensemble] Dreams (Tzadik, 2002)
Ensemble Cathode (IMJ, 2002)
[with New Jazz Quintet] ONJQ Live (DIW, 2002)
[with Keith Rowe & Taku Sugimoto] Ajar (Alcohol, 2002)
[with Gunter Muller] Time Travel (Erstwhile, 2002)

Starting Point:

Dreams (Tzadik, 2002)

Essential:

Ground Zero - Plays Standards (NANI/disk, 1997)


By: Ed Howard
Published on: 2003-09-01
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