Free improvisation has rarely seen significant new movements as influential as the small group of Tokyo musicians once labeled as "onkyo", who have now been a primary driving force in contemporary improvisation for a full decade. Over that decade, these musicians have been responsible for some of the strongest and most radical work on Erstwhile, and Soba To Bara sits firmly in that lineage.
Ami Yoshida strives to create a pure sound, abstracting her voice until it becomes almost completely unrecognizable. She created her unique style with no conventional training, initially inspired by Meredith Monk. Cosmos (with Sachiko M) and Astro Twin (with Utah Kawasaki) are her two longest-running projects, and their split release won the 2003 Ars Electronica award. Outside of Japan, Yoshida is solely known for her vocal work, but within Japan, she is a highly regarded writer, poet and comic book critic, with one novel and countless magazine articles to her credit. This is her third release for Erstwhile, following Cosmos-Tears and a s o (with Christof Kurzmann).
Toshimaru Nakamura is one of the most distinguished and original voices in the world of electroacoustic improvisation, with a vast body of work built up over the past decade. Since 1998, Nakamura has been exploring the possibilities of his no-input mixing board in contexts ranging from solo to collaborations with Keith Rowe, Sachiko M, Sean Meehan, Klaus Filip, Axel Dörner and Annette Krebs. Nakamura was a prominent presence throughout the AMPLIFY 2002 box set, appearing on five of the seven CDs, and has previously released ten other projects on Erstwhile including Good Morning Good Night, ErstLive 005 and 4g-cloud, as well as 2008's well-received One Day, with the duo English. Currently in preparation is an ErstLive release of his duo with Keith Rowe at the AMPLIFY 2008: light festival in Tokyo, as well as an ErstSolo release.
Despite knowing each other for over a decade, Yoshida and Nakamura had never performed as a duo when they were asked to make a CD and perform a set in the AMPLIFY 2008 festival. They discussed how best to approach this, and their idea was to record solo tracks separately, overdub them 'blindly' without hearing the other, and then spend time listening to the results before performing the concert. However, they were so satisfied with how powerful and seemingly synchronized the overlapped solos were that they decided that they wanted that to be the release. The traditional Japanese feel of the digipak was created by the very talented Tokyo designer Yasuo Totsuka, built around the kanji characters for 'Soba to Bara'. and the package also contains Japanese-only liner notes by Yoshida and Nakamura.