Keith Rowe and Toshimaru Nakamura should need no introductions to anyone reading this. Both have been crucial parts of the Erstwhile aesthetic over the past six years, in duo, within quartets, as well as separately.. They have performed together in AMPLIFY festivals in Tokyo, New York, Cologne, Berlin and Prague, as well as last fall's ErstQuake 2. They are the first project to have a second studio release on Erstwhile, following 2001's Weather Sky.
Rowe's history has been well documented at this point. Having mostly performed within AMM until the late 90's, he's since been involved in a wide range of projects, including a slew of the most prominent Erstwhile releases. He's the cornerstone musician for the label, and his wide range of releases over the last six years stands with the strongest periods of work of the last century in improvised music. between is the first release to feature Rowe's latest setup, including his stripped-down "cubist" guitar, a much more powerful shortwave radio and a laptop.
Since 1998, Nakamura has been exploring the possibilities of his no-input mixing board in contexts ranging from solo to collaborations with Rowe, Günter Müller, Sachiko M, Andrea Neumann, John Butcher and Sean Meehan. Nakamura was a prominent presence throughout the AMPLIFY 2002 box set, appearing on five of the seven CDs, and an integral part of the Good Morning Good Night, ErstLive 005 and 4g releases. His duo CD with Klaus Filip will be released later this month on IMJ, and his amazing audio/video feedback project with Billy Roisz, AVVA, is scheduled for DVD release on Erstwhile later this year.
Rowe and Nakamura first began collaborating in 2001, and since then they have developed into ideal partners, perfectly balanced from decidedly different perspectives, a consummate rapport without lapsing into predictability. Since Weather Sky was released in 2001, they have toured as a duo throughout Europe and the US, playing dozens of shows together. between was mostly recorded over two days and nights in July 2005 at Amann Studios in Vienna, combined with one long track from Lausanne a few months earlier. The music seems impossible to process or analyze, defying boundaries and ground rules as soon as they seem to be established. The packaging originated with a photo by Yuko Zama, commissioned by the musicians, which provided the starting point for Rowe's cover painting. Erstwhile designer Friederike Paetzold then filled in the gaps "between" impeccably, splitting the differences between the aesthetics while not ignoring her own, all adding up to a gorgeous design.
"between", for me is about the tension and space between objects, and how we might occupy this area, to reside if you like between the conventions, to locate the flexibility that comes from de-theorizing the dogmas.
It seemed to me as if Toshi and I were navigating a route through a familiar part of town, where each of the buildings stood for and represented expectations, styles, outcomes and histories. We wanted to resist entering the buildings and to stay between.
The cover art and photo attempt to reflect this process. The painting starts by taking a small part of the photo (just above the door) and zooming in until the image is just a handful of pixels. These are in turn interpreted and viewed as a Mondrian-like painting, which serves both as a map of the photo's location and as the process of a Mondrian passing underneath a Rothko. The photo is of a familiar location to someone, an everyday location.
The function of the two images (the painting and the photo) is to view the two simultaneously and imagine the space between.
Mondrian's translocation from Europe to America is of interest here, his moving between continents results in inventiveness and vigour found in the New York works.-Keith Rowe
I had a dream pretty recently. I still remembered the basic story and lots of "scenes" from it when I woke up. You were in that. The story was that we were having an art project together or someone was doing sort of an art festival and we were part of it. There was a stone sculpture or a carving. And you were supposed to move it from one place to the other in the dead of night. There were four spots for the art work to be placed, an hour for each location. So, you carried the piece, which was quite heavy, and placed it at a designated spot, waited for an hour and moved it to the next place, and did it again and again for four times. But that was not for spectators, it was for yourself to see the sculpture standing in the moonlight all alone. Nobody around but you and the sculpture. So, you set off, I remained in the office. Then at 4 AM in the morning, still dark, you were supposed to be back to the office but you were not. So, I drove around the route and found the sculpture left alone at one of the spots. The sculpture had a reddish gleam in the blueish moonlight and was a fantastic scene. I found a note you left saying "Toshi, I am off for some tea." I thought you left the sculpture there because you wanted to share the beautiful scene with me. Anyway, I thought I heard our music from the recent recording session in the dream.
Dear listeners and others who are interested in the disc,
Above is a dream I had a few weeks after the Vienna session. I didn't mean only Keith played the music and I was drinking sake somewhere else. We actually played this music together in the same rooms in Lausanne and Vienna. Maybe sometimes we didn't do much but we were there in the same rooms at least. So, this is just a story from a dream I had, and the music on 'between' was a soundtrack for that.-Toshimaru Nakamura