an interview with Koji Tano aka MSBR
MSBR is a noise project of Japan's Koji Tano. MSBR's crushing wall of noise, like Merzbow's, manages to tap into a post-human territory of pure absolute volume that seems to have more in common with the unstoppable forces of nature than any form of music. Witness the MSBR "Collapseland" CD on the German Heelstone label, directly inspired by the catastrophic Kobe earthquake. It doesn't take much of an imagination to connect Koji's claustrophobic dense noise constructions with the obliterating movement of massive tectonic plates. You know the drill: Japanoise - blah blah blah. In addition to his noise activities, Koji's MSBR web page is an essential nexus of information for the international noise set.
1. How old are you?
2. Can you describe your music in words?
Grappling Electro Noise. But I'm making less electronic sounds using field recordings recently.
3. Can you tell me more about the field recordings?
Yes. My recent concept is to re-make new natural/usual form by exchange of natural/usual sounds. Materials are from several things. Sounds in my room, in town, in field. I recorded those and dub/cut up and exchange by some effect.
4. Do you record everything in a home studio? Do you use computer for sounds or editing?
I record some materials in a home studio and some live. I'm using DAT. My equipments are mainly a KORG guitar synthesizer and some effects. And I use feedback to be out by connect with these equipments as source material. I won't use computer for making sounds. Because I don't like digital sounds. I prefer analog one.
5. What is the first record you ever owned?
1st LP of KING CRIMSON
6. What is the record you listen to when you fall asleep?
HAWKWIND "SPACE RITUAL"
7. What is the record you play the loudest?
HAWKWIND "SPACE RITUAL"
8. What is the last book you read?
"DENSHI ZATSUON" This is magazine for noise music I'm doing. 1st was issued last summer. I'm making 2nd now.
9. Can you tell me more about "DENSHI ZATSUON"?
"Denshi Zatsuon" means electro noise. 1st issue out July '97. 2nd issue out Apr. '98. 1st was 600 copies and a few copies left. Notes are all in Japanese and total is 66 pages. 2nd issue will be more pages.
Notes are mainly about noise-interview, review, others. But artists in several are are introduced. Daniel Menche, Destroy All Monsters, Macronympha, Stabat Mors, trente oiseuax, Ash International are introduced.
There will be many interviews on 2nd issue. RLW, B. Günter, R&G, PBK, Toy Bizarre, Steve Roden, Brandon Labelle, Kiyoshi Mizutani, Paolo Bandera (Sigillum S and SRS), TAINT.....
10. You mentioned B. Gunter in your contents for DENSHI ZATSUON #2. Did you interview him? What do you think of his music?
I'm not familiar with B.Günter. This interview with him is one by other members of magazine. I think his work is very interesting but it's art. So his work is not sometimes enjoyable. Maybe this is his concept.
He said it need not violent one in art and I can understand some. But there're much violent one in our society now. I think it's important to tell this social factor in artistic work. I want to tell detail about this but it's difficult for me in English.
11. Can you tell me of any new MSBR releases? Compact Discs especially?
2 CDs are released. One is collaboration with Daniel Menche, Crawl Unit, Basic Noise. Release is from Isomorphic Records in USA. Another one is collaboration & split work with Blazen Y Sharp. Release is from Gender-Less Kibbutz in Italy.
Except these, LP and CD are ready to be released from my new label - FLENIX this spring. LP is a live split with Spastic Colon. CD is collaboration with DSM and ERG. ERG is another project of MNORTHAM.
12. Your old Manga in Ongaku Otaku #2 was very good - Do you still draw Manga? Have they been published in Japan?
I finished new MANGA for Ongaku Otaku #3. It's new work of mine. My MANGA hasn't been ever published until now. A work in Ongaku Otaku #2 was one I draw about 15 years ago. And I haven't done MANGA by new work this time.
But I will keep doing MANGA again. So if someone who read this interview has interest to publish my MANGA, please contact to me.
13. I know you like wrestling and Japanese grappling - Do you know Mexican wrestling? Do you know El Santo?
Yes, I know. But I don't like Mexican Style. I prefer more stronger style by Suplex and Submission wrestling. Especially, Suplex is the best technique in wrestling, I think. My thought is that the best wrestler is Antonio Inoki. Except him, I like Bruzer Blody, Giant Baba, Stan Hansen, Jack Brisco.... Except wrestler, I like Masutatsu "GOD HAND" Ohyama. He's a god of Karate.
14. What is your favorite piece of equipment for making noise?
Guitar Synthesizer by KORG. I always use for recording and performing.
15. Do you have any contacts with the Japanese techno scene?
I don't have any contact to Japanese techno scene. I have interest in techno techniques for making sounds but I don't like the music itself. Because most of those are too dance and groovy for me. I dislike dance music.
16. I'm writing an article about Richard Pinhas and Heldon - Do you know their music?
Yes!! I love their sound. Especially, "Interface" is one of my favorite 70's record. Its style - electronics sequence and drumming, I think it's real techno music. This means mixture of human and machine. And very groovy for human in Rock generation like me. Some artists in Japan get influence from their sounds.
17. I notice you and some other Japanese noise musicians listen to a lot of seventies progressive and psychedelic music more than new noise/electronic - do you agree? Why do you think this is? Do you listen to any new noise/non-noise musicians?
First of all, Noise artists I mentioned are first/second generation like Hijokaidan, Merzbow, Incapacitants, AUBE, K2, Pain Jerk, others. They are all over than 30 years old. They have kept to listening music from early 70's when they were youths. And progressive and psychedelic are minor music from 70's, and that spirit is the same from noise after 80's. Especially, 70's German Rock - CAN, NEU, AMON DUUL, CLUSTER, GURU GURU, others - had destroyed style of Rock Music by that time, and I think it has the same concept from noise. Japanese noise artists in first/second generation got a big influence in starting their music career from 70's German Rock. I myself listen to this music and like it very much.
Next, third generation like Kazumoto Endo, Government Alpha, and others are all less than 30 years old. When they are youth, first generation of noise are already doing and "noise" had been out as musical category. Third generation got a big influence from "noise" and started doing "noise".
I listen to new noise of course. There are some interesting artists if I tell as noise artist-MSBR. STABAT MORS, DANIEL MENCHE, SPECULUM FIGHT, TOY BIZARRE, SMALL CRUEL PARTY, others. In non-noise music, there are less interesting artists for me. Especially, alternative is the same from 80's real alternative. It's not new music.
18. Merzbow likes Heldon too - you said some Japanese musicians are influenced by them - can you tell me which ones?
I think they are first Rock band did mixture electronic sequence and human beat. Guitar by Pinhas is not important (but I like it). But his concept in this mixture was very new at that time. In techno age now, this is still important. I can say HELDON style is next techno music to 21st century.
I think MERZBOW has the same concept in their recent noise. It's mixture destroyed electro sequence and destroyed human beat....I myself do another unit "MAGMAX" using noise manipulation plus TB-303 sequence. That style is nearer to SUICIDE than HELDON but concept is mixture of electro sequence (TB-303) and human beat (noise).
19. Is there any MAGMAX music out on cassette? Is this a solo project or do you work with other musicians?
MAGMAX has no releases now. Only live. But LP with 7" will be released from HANDS in Germany in the near future. MAGMAX is a project by me and other 2 menbers. My part is noise & rhythm(TB-303). Other 2 menbers are vocalists - MAGMAX#1 and MAGMAX#2. When live and recording, MAGMAX#1 mainly does vocal.
20. As you said, what made Heldon special was the heavy electronics mixed with the live drumming (especially on INTERFACE and UN REVE SANS CONSEQUENCE). Do you have any interest in doing something with real drums and electro noise?
Yes, I have interest to do work with drummer. It will be exciting. I also like INTERFACE and UN REVE SANS CONSEQUENCE. And I like early DAF (2nd LP!) too. They also did mixture of electronics and drumming. It's more punk style than HELDON. If I found a good drummer, I'd do it.
21. Are you familiar with the Japanese Zero Gravity and Transonic labels? I've heard some of their music (Utah Kawasaki and Kazunao Nagata CDs) and they seem to be abstract non-dance electronic with some drumming - sometimes like Suicide/Heldon/DAF (early) or Cluster and Kraftwerk (early) using old synths and effects.
I'm not familiar with them. I have heard some of their works. I can understand your thought but I think their music is not same as HELDON, DAF, Suicide... The reason is that spirit between both is different. I think that HELDON is more free improvisation and DAF is PUNK, like Suicide. Especially, DAF and Suicide had a vocalist. I think their music gets a big influence from Cluster, Kraftwerk and others. But I think there's no need for doing 70's style in the 90's. It's like many band people play Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin.... There's no spirit to new vision.
I like HELDON and DAF but I am not going to do the same style. I must add something of new to those styles. And one of those is "Noise".
On MSBR Records, Koji's own label. All are MSBR releases unless noted otherwise:
(MR01) "ULTIMATE AMBIENCE" LP Ltd 400 copies
(MR02) "STEROID" 7" Ltd 30 copies
(MR03) "STRUCTURED SUICIDE" cassette
(MR04) "AMALGAM" split 7" with TELEPHERIQUE from Germany Ltd 55 copies
(MR05) "SCOPOTOPHILIA" split 7" with TAINT from USA Ltd 66 copies
(MR06) "YASHA" collaborative cassette with THIRDORGAN from Osaka
(MR07) "A CAT HAS NINE LIVES" split 7" with SMELL&QUIM from England Ltd 69 copies
(MR08) "MULTI LAYERING TERMINATION" collaborative 7" with DANIEL MENCHE from USA Ltd 100 copies
(MR09) "SONIC AGRESSION" collaborative cassette with RICHARD RAMIREZ from USA
(MR10) "INFUSED ELECTRONICS" split 7" with SSHE RETINA STIMULANTS from Italy Ltd 100 copies
(MR11) collaboration 7" with SALT from Germany
(MR12) "STULTIFICATION" split 7" with SPECULUM FIGHT from USA Ltd 120 copies
(MR13) "-" DANIEL MENCHE/SMALL CRUEL PARTY split 7" Ltd 77 copies
(MR14) "CONTACT #1" split & collaborative LP with TELEPHERIQUE & CONTAGIOUS ORGASM Ltd 500 copies
(MR15) "SCHASCHLIK" TELEPHERIQUE/D.W.M./TESENDALO collaborative 7" Ltd 100 copies
(MR16) "METABOLIST" TELEPHERIQUE/Cruel Science in Babylon split C-46
(MR17) "SUPPLEMENT" C-60
(MR18) "YAKUZA vs MAFIA" split 8" with MACRONYMPHA
(MRL01) "-"SPECULUM FIGHT/MSBR/THREE split 7" Ltd 58
Selected releases on other labels:
"SONIC DESTRUCTION" (DEADLINE RECORDS in USA) split LP with BLACK LEATHER JESUS Ltd 300 copies
"DESTRUCTIVE LOCOMOTION" (RRR/PURE in USA) CD Ltd 500 copies
"COLLAPSELAND" (HEELSTONE in GERMANY) CD Ltd 500 copies
"INTENSIFICATION" (PRAXIS DR.BEARMANN in Germany) 10" Ltd 200 copies
"DESTRUCTIBLE FOUNDATION/DRAIN" (MSNP/SELF ABUSE in USA) split 7" with MERZBOW Ltd 500 copies
"ELECTROVEGETARIANISM" (PINCH-A-LOAF Productions in USA) 7"
"COLLABODESTRUCTIVISTS" (ISOMORPHIC RECORDS in USA) CD 3 collaboration with Daniel Menche, Crawl Unit, Basic Noise
"MASS FOR DEAD INSECTS" (GENDER-LESS KIBITZ IN Italy) CD
"MENTAL DISSOLUTION" (BLOODLUST in USA) cassette Ltd 50 copies
"METAL STRICKEN TERROR ACTION" (BANNED PRODUCTION in USA) cassette
"-" (EF tapes in USA) split 2 cassettes with COCK E.S.P. Ltd 100 copies
"SUPPLEMENT" (APRAXIA in USA) cassette
"HOLY MOUNTAIN ELECTRONIXX" (CLING-FILM records in Belgium) cassette Ltd 100 copies
Compilation appearances (selected, of course):
"CATACLASTIC FRACTURE" (DEADLINE RECORDS in USA) CD
"EXPLORATION :?" (BODY AND BLOOD in Canada) CD
"THE JAPANESE/AMERICAN NOISE TREATY" (RELASPE RECORDS in USA) 2 CDs
"SOME WHORES AND A CAMERA ZAIBATSU" (OLD EUROPA CAFE in Italy) CD
"ADVENTURES IN MODERN ELECTRONICS" (PINCH-A-LOAF Productions in USA) CD
"PURE POWER PICNIC" (TIDAL WAVE RECYCLING in Norway) DAT
"FINISH" (DFP in Germany) double 7"s
"CHKIYUU" (Ash International) CD
"THE ARTIFICIAL NERVE" (XERXES Recordings in Japan) 5 cassette set
"DENSITY-100:" (G.R.O.S.S. in Japan) 2 cassettes
"NE SHI" (BANNED PRODUCTION in USA) 2 cassettes
"PRAYER OF MANKIND" (SSSM in Japan) 2 cassettes
"NOISE NET #3" (NOISE in Taiwan) cassette
"EXTREME PLEASURE" (SLAUGHTER PRODUCTION in Italy) cassette
c/o Koji Tano
2-8-4 ohara Setagaya