ISSUE is pleased to stream the debut collaboration between Poughkeepsie-based Joe McPhee and Tokyo-based composer Taku Unami. Despite having never worked together previously, both McPhee and Unami are composers, improvisers, and multi-instrumentalists who have both regularly collaborated with former Poughkeepsian and multidisciplinary artist Graham Lambkin. Sharing a similarly liberated approach through their expansive individual discographies and various collaborations, both artists are truly unique in their respective approaches—from McPhee’s notions of “sideways thinking” and “Po Music” in creative improvisation that subvert fixed musical ideas, to Unami’s use of obfuscated everyday non-musical objects and non-human machine improvisers.
During the Fall, 2020, ISSUE is commissioning artists to produce collaborative work at a time when the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has drastically impacted their ability to travel and perform, and altered the nature of collective work and performance. Pairing artists in disparate locations who cannot work together in “traditional” ways, the Distant Pairs series examines the collaborative process, methods of working, and partnership amidst these constrained conditions.
Joe McPhee, born November 3rd,1939 in Miami, Florida, USA, is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, improviser, conceptualist and theoretician. He began playing the trumpet at age eight, taught by his father, himself a trumpet player. He continued on that instrument through his formative school years and later in a U.S. Army band stationed in Germany, at which time he was introduced to performing traditional jazz. Clifford Thornton’s Freedom and Unity, released in 1969 on the Third World label, is the first recording on which he appears as a side man. In 1968, inspired by the music of Albert Ayler, he took up the saxophone and began an active involvement in both acoustic and electronic music.
Taku Unami is a performer of multi-instrumental, improvised, and unclassifiable (non-)music. Influenced by cosmic-pessimism, science-fiction, supernatural-horror, and weird-fiction, his work involves the myriad playing of string instruments, piano, synthesizers, recording hardware and software, and “obfuscated everyday, non-musical objects.” He was bandleader and guitarist of depressive easy-listening group HOSE, is a member of HONTATEDORI (with Moé Kamura and Tetuzi Akiyama), and has active collaborations with Klaus Filip, Jean-Luc Guionnet, Kanji Nakao, Eric La Casa, Jarrod Fowler, amongst others. Unami has composed for film, including ‘Los My Way’ (directed by Takeshi Furusawa), ‘In 1,000,000 years’ (directed by Isao Okishima), “LIFE AND DEATH ON THE SHORE”(directed by Michio Koshikawa) and “What Can You Do About It” (directed by Yoshifumi Tsubota). Recent publications include Wovenland 2 with Toshiya Tsunoda (Erstwhile Records 2020), Comet Meta with David Grubbs (blue chopsticks 2020). Unami also runs the influential experimental music record label and distributor Hibari Music.