Japanese composer and violinist Takehisa Kosugi was an early collaborator of Fluxus founder Nam June Paik, but his rare performance in Chicago this weekend is made possible by his involvement with Merce Cunningham. He’s worked with the avant-garde choreographer since 1977 and in 1995 came on with Cunningham’s dance company as musical director; this show, an evening of improvisation and composed music with fellow Cunningham associate Jim O’Rourke, is a capper for three nights of sold-out dance performances at the MCA. (Kosugi and O’Rourke also worked together recently on Sonic Youth’s excellent Goodbye 20th Century project.) Kosugi’s career is hard to map; he’s experimented with a number of styles and media, and his exploits aren’t particularly well documented in this country. After gaining recognition for his involvement with Fluxus, he cofounded the spectacular Japanese electroacoustic-psychedelic band the Taj Mahal Travellers–on their August 1974, a sprawling double album recorded for Columbia and recently reissued by the Japanese imprint P-Vine, trippy drones created by strings, brass, percussion, and a whole lotta electronics transmogrify with organic grace and logic. A video of some of his multimedia works shows a more blatant emphasis on process: for one he crumples a large piece of paper through heavy amplification and copious electronic effects; for another several participants create shifting fields of feedback by moving electromagnetic devices hung from rods by long strings, as if fishing for sound. As a violinist he’s recorded with Peter Kowald and Steve Lacy, among others, but probably most relevant to this performance are his two excellent collections of abstract improvisations: Violin Solo 1980 N.Y.C. (also on P-Vine), the more jarring of the two, is characterized by clipped, jagged phrases and tactile dissonance; Violin Improvisations: New York, September 1989 (Lovely Music) is more measured and lyrical. At press time there were two tickets left for the concert. Sunday, 7 PM, Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago; 312-397-4076.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kiyotoshi Takashima.