serenitatem, the fifteenth instalment of FRKWYS, RVNG Intl.’s collaboration series pairing inter-generational artists in creative conversation, joins Visible Cloaks with Yoshio Ojima and Satsuki Shibano, two trailblazers of the Japanese avant-garde music and visual arts scenes of the 1980s and 90s.
Yoshio Ojima began his career as a composer of environmental and ambient music, with a particular interest, and optimism, in the possibilities of generative software. His compositional pursuit of human synthesis with computerised forms was realised in its fullest potential alongside Satsuki Shibano, a pianist renowned for her interpretations of Erik Satie and Claude Debussy. Together, they were among a handful of influential Japanese artists whose innovations still resonate, if not more vibrantly than ever, well beyond the tightly-knit scene’s original core.
In the early 90s, Ojima was among the programmers of the influential satellite radio experiment St. Giga, a constantly-evolving sonic landscape that combined field recordings and sound collage with occasional readings of Japanese poetry. Satsuki was a regular reader for the station. This musical terrarium bloomed out of sight in a small Tokyo studio, a greenhouse of sound with no set start or finish time that audiences could tune into, absorb, and immerse. The perpetual flow state of St. Giga — recordings of which Ojima shared with Visible Cloaks — would be highly influential to serenitatem’s constitution.
As Visible Cloaks, the Portland, Oregon duo of Spencer Doran and Ryan Carlile have developed their own set of creative strategies that form an aesthetic fuse point between human intention, aleatoric composition, and improvisation. These are notions most recently reflected in 2017’s Reassemblage and Lex, a respective album and EP in which the duo combined generative software and virtual representations of global instruments into lacy, interlocking patterns.
Accordingly, serenitatem is a marvellously sharp record, its sutures between human and machine virtually impossible to find but suggested everywhere you turn. The collaboration among Ojima, Satsuki, and Visible Cloaks is both musically and conceptually inseparable from the technology that made it possible.
5. S'Amours ne fait par sa grace adoucir (Ballade 1
6. Lapis Lazuli
8. Canzona per sonare no.4
9. Toi (Tokyo Mix) (Bonus Track)