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Nakatani Gong Orchestra at Vanderelli Room

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by Richard Sanford on August 28, 2017

Avant-percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani returns to Columbus as part of our invaluable Fuse Factory series. Nakatani leads his “community engagement project” Nakatani Gong Orchestra on Friday, September 1st at Franklinton intermedia locus The Vanderelli Room (tickets and more info at this Facebook page). More info and videos of this rare spectacle below the jump.

A rare and subtle percussionist who delves deep into sound, Nakatani has played with a who’s who of the avant-garde. From German bassist Peter Kowald to American guitarist Mary Halvorson, reeds legends like Assif Tsahar and Joe McPhee, the best of the Chicago scene including Joshua Abrams and Ken Vandermark, and international electronics/noise wizards like Otomo Yoshihide and Rafael Toral, he has an uncanny empathy for dialogue. Nakatani brings a personal, unmistakable sound to all of these situations without ever overpowering or grandstanding.

In recent years, he has focused more and more on compositions for solo percussion. In many ways, the Nakatani Gong Orchestra presents the apotheosis of these two strains: the born collaborator and the astronaut into the deepest, farthest regions of percussion sounds. As the self-titled record on Taiga and the videos below show, Nakatani’s compositions for this bowed gong orchestra expose sonorities of the bow over metal by layering and contrasting them against one another. Everything has the sensual quality of the hand sliding that bow across its edge. At the same time, each piece has a celestial, liquid quality that comes from those massed sounds. Hair on metal over and over melt together into something greater than any one voice.

As always, the Nakatani Gong Orchestra is led and conducted by Tatsuya Nakatani but features a who’s who of locals. The Columbus iteration brings together aesthetically diverse members of our adventurous music scene. This includes Stephanie Dean and Jen Powers from the band Autophonia, acclaimed noise artists Mike Shiflet and David Reed, violinist-keyboardist Devin Copfer, multimedia artists Ty Owen, Chris Haas, and Jen Slezak, and more. Artists who have collaborated for 20 years and artists with only a passing familiarity with one another.

All of these voices come together in the service of Nakatani’s music: accessible and spiritual without ever being pandering or simplistic. As the summer comes to an (unofficial) close, this is the perfect performance for reflection and cleansing.

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