Preview: Otomo Yoshihide and Sachiko M

London fans of minimal electronic music will find themselves spending much of this week in Dalston, as Cafe Oto hosts a three-day residency featuring two of Japan’s preeminent improvisers. Each night, Otomo Yoshihide and Sachiko M will play with a different experimental luminary and as well as collaborate with each other in what is easily one of 2009’s most exciting series so far.

Equally skilled on both turntables and guitar, Yoshihide draws as much on cut-up sound technique as free jazz, while Sachiko M’s work centres on the most basic building block of synthesized sound, the sine wave generator. I recently listened to her Sine Wave Solo CD from 2000 and was shocked by how alien it still sounds nine years later. Whereas most experimental electronic music from the turn of the century sounds dated with too much garish glitch, Sine Wave Solo sounds positively fresh and timeless. If you’re hoping to hear her undiluted sound, Monday night is her only solo set, so don’t miss it!

The special guest each night will undoubtedly influence the direction the performers take. While Otomo Yoshihide will probably explore the jazzier side of his guitar with Evan Parker in the spotlight on Wednesday, I can’t imagine he’d miss the opportunity to hop behind the decks and spin alongside Technics virtuoso Christian Marclay on Tuesday. I’ve seen Marclay and Yoshihide collaborate once before, each manning their own set of turntables, and it’s nothing short of amazing.

With the stunning set of sounds Marclay and Yoshihide can extract from the much abused vinyl in their crates, augmented by Sachiko’s sine waves, if I had to pick one event to see, it would be Tuesday’s trio. Since each gig only costs £10, and a three-day pass can be had for £22, choosing just one seems a bit silly, really. It’s not every day you get some of the finest noisemakers in the world together in one place for the better part of a week, so arguably you have a moral obligation to attend at least two of these stellar gigs.


If you’re not sold yet, here’s a small sample of the sort of sounds you can hope to hear this week. It’s the first track from Sachiko M’s Sine Wave Solo, “Don’t Move”. Not only is it one of my favourite pieces of hers, but it’s among my most loved works of experimental electronic music in general. It’s a proper mental palette cleanser, a bit like giving your brain an acid bath so it comes out all shiny and new again.

Right-click here to download or stream below:

[audio:SachikoM-DontMove.mp3|titles=Don’t Move|artists=Sachiko M]


Full schedule:

Monday, 9 March 2009 at 8pm
Otomo Yoshihide – Solo
Sachiko M – Solo
Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M and Eddie Prévost (AMM) – Trio

Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 8pm
Filament: Otomo Yoshihide and Sachiko M
Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M and Christian Marclay – Trio

Wednesday, 11 March 2009 at 8pm
Otomo Yoshihide and John Butcher – Duo
Otomo Yoshihide, Sachiko M, Evan Parker, John Edwards and Tony Marsh – Quintet