Interview: Japanese Noise/”Sound Artist” Masayuki Imanishi

In our quest to find the most unique noise artists from Japan, we came across one who

masayuki imanishi
Masayuki Imanishi

really re-defines the genre to create his own style as a “sound artist,” thereby not limiting himself to being a “Japanese noise artist.”  What makes Masayuki Imanishi unique is his use of field recordings and found objects such as paper in his work.  His most recent work is Worn Tape.  We’d like to thank Masayuki Imanishi for his time in this interview.

The new album is called “Worn Tape.”  It seems to use some studio equipment and also field recordings.  It also has a fantastic “left-right” mix.  Can you talk about the creation of the release?
Worn Tape is a field recording that I took in a long time ago.  I originally created an album as a works of materials.  This album did not ask for a sense of unity.  I listened carefully to artificial sounds, non-artificial sounds and made it.  And I wanted to make as much as possible unnatural sound.  I wanted to feel the boundary between analog and digital and the band of sound.
When did you first become interested in noise as a form of art?
I met noise as a high school student.  I think that it was Merzbow, Whitehouse, The New Blockaders.  Sound of noise, grain of mixed sounds, sound like sandstorm, the whole was fresh and shocking.  I was excited.  Contemporary music, sound art were also left a strong impression on my mind.  There is no constraint on sound art / noise.  Both are all feeling freedom and sensuous.
Can you talk about some of the tools you use to create your work?  This includes studio and environmental tools.
Many of my sound source sources are field recording etc.  Also I am recording paper, objects etc.  I use to HD recorder, cassette recorder, microphone, radio, speaker, PC, paper and objects.  I’m trying it recently because I purchased a synthesizer.
How do some of your albums differ from one another?
In 2017 – 2018 I released five titles.  It is intuitive and freedom work that is common to all.  I think that I always do the same work. There may be times when the style changes slightly depending on the sound you use.  What I’m always thinking is looking for sounds in the middle between analog and digital.
You are also involved with a project called Eartaker.  Can you talk about this project?  How is it different than solo work?
I started  Eartaker  in 2017 with Goth-Trad and Die-suck.  It is my old friend.  I originally planned to participate only 2 tracks in the GOTH-TRAD album.  Recording with everyone was a lot of fun!  My noise always thinks in the studio.  Since then, we have produced a song to enter the monthly studio.  We decided to work as a unit name “Eartaker”.  We released our debut album “HARMONICS” from Bedouin Records this September.  For me it is an exciting new challenge.  I am doing a totally different approach from my solo work.  My solo work is also called micro sound (small sound), but … Eartaker is very intense noise.
There is always new discovery.
What noise/sound artists inspired you?  What are some of the most important recordings of these styles in your opinion?
There are many … There are really many.  Merzbow, The New Blockaders, SBOTHI, P16.D4, Kangaroo kourt, Mauve sidesow,  Foreign World, David Tudor, Henri chopin, Giuseppe Ielasi .. and so on, more many.
Especially I think that I have received much influence from Kangaroo Kourt.  I like the arrangement of their sounds very much.  I’d love to hear more mysterious and unknown sounds.  I am always looking for effective recording methods for that.
What is your opinion of these “anti-releases” or “silent tapes” issued by some labels?
I think that silent tape, anti records is a very important expression.
Billboard Combat, works such as The New Blockaders is I think that it is famous.  These spirits are very important and are the best sound art pieces.  These releases are noise / sound art, so it will be formed.  This point is interesting, unlike other music.  But silent tape may be disappointing for listeners.  If I were you I enjoy playing it (watching the jacket) and imagining it.
What is most important to you as a sound artist?  Is it the hope for certain reaction in the listener?  Or is it to accurately create a certain environment?
It is important to listen carefully and listen to the sound.  How to listen is also freedom. Sound art / noise is freedom. Listeners are freedom to value it. What matters to me is enjoying.  Listeners too.  I’m making noise for my enjoy.
Many people look at Japan as the center of the “noise” scene.  Of course the most famous figure is Merzbow.  Do you think other artists in Japan do not receive the appreciation they deserve because he is so popular?
I respect Masami Akita.  Merzbow is a pioneer of noise.  I think that Merzbow increased the value of noise.  After that, it influenced not only noise scenes but also people of various genres.  It super great.  It will continue to influence in the future.  Although I became together with live performances several times, his stage is always great.
What things do you hope to do in 2019 to push the boundaries of your art and sound art/noise in general?
I would like to collaborate with live performances and sound with artists of various genres. I am currently in progress but I am creating sound with artists of various genres.  Several collaborations will be released this year.  Please look forward to the release.  I want the listener of various genres to listen to my sound.  Also I will increase the activities of Eartaker in the future.
Do you have a history of live performances?  And do you have any interesting stories about specific shows?
I have been pausing solo live performances for the past few years.
There are no particular reasons …  The last live performance by me as a solo is Phill Niblock birth 80th anniversary tour several years ago.  I was very impressed with the art performance using the video of him.  Other artists were with Kohei Matsunaga (NHK), Thomas Ankersmit, Konrad Sprenger.  I perform live performances as EARTKER, I sometimes participate in the live performances of Japanese band Vampillia.
Maybe, I will resume solo live performances next year.
Thank you for answering our interview.  Let us know of any social media pages you would like us to mention.
Masayuki Imanishi HP:
Masayuki Imanishi Bandcamp

Follow The Noise Beneath The Snow on

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