catastrophe point #7 & #8
ib003 - 2cd set - 2010
edition of 400
north america $20.00 USD
canada $24.00 USD
europe etc. $27.00 USD
disc one - catastrophe point #7 - 50.50
sound materials recorded at arsenic: lausanne, switzerland
2004.10.21 - 11.28
disc two - catastrophe point #8 - 58.00
sound materials recorded at ex power station : edinburgh, scotland
2006.10.23 - 10.28
standard edition includes:
3-panel letterpress sleeve by ben owen, assembled by invisible birds
liner notes by giancarlo toniutti, letterpress printing by ben owen
all compositions by lethe
photos by kuwayama kiyoharu
sleeve design by invisible birds & kuwayama kiyoharu
letterpress printing by ben owen at
liner notes written and designed by giancarlo toniutti
invisible birds continues lethe's catastrophe point series with a 2cd set which includes 2 recordings in his
series, one recorded in switzerland in 2004 and the other recorded in scotland in 2006.
lethe's series take place in abandoned industrial sites, using drones, chains, an occasional instrument, objects
found in the space, but most importantly the resonant qualities of the space.
the wire magazine explained this series "the music sounds like it's taking place in a vast, pitch black aircraft
hangar of the soul".
yannick dauby said ""these are kiyoharu's obsessive abstractions dealing with physical substance and volume".
the packaging for this release was done in collaboration with kiyoharu kuwayama and letterpress printer ben owen
with the hope of achieving something that reflects the beauty and intensity of the work.
, a use of gr.
, root of
is not the name of the river, though it occurs
as a personification; the river is
'water of lethe'].
a river in hades, the water of which produced,
in those who drank it, forgetfullnes of the past. hence,
the 'waters of oblivion', or forgetfullness of the past.
¶2. [?influenced by
it's hard not to jump right into discussing the packaging that invisible birds has crafted for this opus by
the peripatetic japanese experimentalist lethe (aka kuwayama iyoharu), but that will have to wait for later
on in the review as it's the incredible, occluded sounds that lethe generates that are of true import here.
for many years now, kuwayama had been recording the resonance of various abandoned spaces, first around his
native japan and more recently from sites far far away. he seeks out an old warehouse, airplane hanger, the
hull of a ship, or any massive slab of architecture shaped by concrete and/or steel which happens to have an
open door (or broken window) and a choice amount of natural reverb and resonance. there he collects whatever he
can find within the space to use as source material to resonate those industrial spaces: slabs of metal, empty
water tanks, sodden wood, broken glass, small bones, and the flotsam that had collected on the floors after
years of neglect. out of these found objects, kuwayama has an uncanny knack for producing natural, acoustic
drones which hold a haunted aesthetic amplified through the cavernous reverb of those crumbled cathedrals to
industry. given the seemingly surreptitious nature of kuwayama's wanderings, these recordings are swaddled in
the darkness of night with only candles or a bonfire somewhere in the far corner of the building as his
illumination. it has to be said that kuwayama does overlay and edit all of his recordings into composition,
following liked minded artists such as tarab, eric la casa, or john grzinich.
catastrophe point 7 begins with this process at a site deliciously referred to as arsenic in lausanne,
switzerland. well, it turns out that arsenic is a contemporary theater space in current use, and despite his
non-feral residence, kuwayama offers an incredible assortment of acoustic drones, noises, and textures.
bellowing tones emanate from a variety of long plumbing pipes, replicating the circular breathing strategies of
yoshi wada; and around these leaden flutterings, he scrapes uneasy textures and builds clattering crescendos.
the point about arsenic not being a totally disused space comes to the forefront about halfway through
catastrophe point 7 as he rolls a piano into the empty theater space and sets forth a melancholy series of
clustered piano tones, much like his one time collaborator jonathan coleclough produced on his signature album
catastrophe point 8 was recorded in an abandoned space. this time, it's a former power station in scotland. a
mournful acoustic drone, perhaps from a similar set of plumbing pipes heard in the swiss recordings opens this
disc, with small crumblings of wood, glass, and concrete positioned close to the microphone. set in spatialized
contrast to these closely miced sounds, kuwayama captures various clanks, thumps, and other bumps in the night
all decaying in the prolonged reverb of that power station. it's a much more spartan affair than the first disc,
but just as effective in its haunted sensibility. highly recommended listening!
and yes, the packaging. the discs themselves are housed in a beautifully printed letterpress folio, with a
lengthy booklet written by fellow industrial shadow-master giancarlo toniutti. for this small art-edition,
invisible birds has housed the two discs in an archival, embossed box with another booklet of photographs from
kuwayama and a snippet of 8mm film. the art edition is beautifully done and well worth the expense. needless to
say, they made just 100 of the art edition!
~ jim haynes
kuwayama kiyoharu is the man behind lethe. under his own name he works within the field of improvised music,
playing cello and electronics, in a duo called kuwayama-kijima and as lethe he creates music that deals with
large spaces with lots of natural reverberation, such as abandoned warehouses, shinto temples, mausoleums and
these works are called 'catastrophe point' and on this double cd we find two of them. one (from 2004) was
recorded at arsenic in lausanne, switzerland and the other at an ex-power station in edinburgh, scotland, in
inside such spaces, kuwayama goes about to record the empty space, picking up large reverberations with the
tiniest of sound information. found metal is being scraped, hit and dragged across the floor. now that may seem
like a 'heavy' thing, but if you listen to these pieces, there is a great sense of 'emptiness' in these
recordings. it stays far away, like being removed far away from the microphone(s).
i suspect he picks up his 'action' with various microphones and then mixes these together when it comes to
releasing such works. its hard to say (and no doubt not really necessary) what this is, this music of lethe.
ambient? perhaps, but not as we commonly know it. experimental? surely. action music, performance art? no doubt
that's true as well. you could wonder why two discs.
there are some interesting differences between both works. the scotland work is very sparse: an empty space, a
few sounds (in all three tracks). the switzerland piece has some sort of drone/alarm/buzz going on, with lots of
more activity. towards the end of the first part, the space around is removed and we have a very clear picture
of all sorts of acoustic activity going on. in the second part a 'clear' piano pops up. maybe we have to keep
the time frame in mind: in 2004 lethe was perhaps more focussed on 'music' in a big space, whereas in 2006 he
was more interested in the space itself. i am not entirely sure. of the two 'catastrophe #7' would count as the
more musical one, whereas 'catastrophe #8' would count as a piece of sound art.
for either drone lovers, improvised music fans and art goers, there is something for everyone in this quite
unique sound world of lethe.
~ frans de waard
intransitive recordings - interview with lethe (excerpts, original found
as far as humanly possible i try to start recording without a fixed image of the completed work. the only
thought i keep in mind is that it is for this series.
when i was recording in the harbour warehouse, i would load up a two ton truck with the recording equipment, my
instruments and a load of old junk, which i then set up around the space so that i could immediately record any
sound produced. i then started creating sounds according to how i was feeling on that day, at that particular
because i chose this particular way of working, i ended up with a lot of material that i wasn't able to use. for
the recording in the swiss underground shelter (#6 & #7), i used materials that i gathered locally and a violin that i had
brought with me. at the abandoned power station in scotland, i only used rubbish that had been left behind in the building.
is catastrophe point purely acoustic?
on a very few occasions i do actually use electronic sounds and electronically amplified materials. the materials i used
on #5, for example, were particularly memorable. for the purposes of another project, i had rigged up a mic and a hundred
metres of cable to pick up the sounds of the waves from a pier and then broadcast them inside a harbour warehouse. perhaps
the cable acted as an antenna because it also picked up radio traffic between ships.
the raw material i used for #5 was a recording of these sounds and the echo in the warehouse space. in addition, on #7 and
#8 there are parts that have been extremely simply digitally manipulated.
i don't use many electronic sounds or digital manipulation because they seemed unnecessary for this series, but the
performance of electronic sounds plays a central part in other projects.
do you consider each catastrophe point to be compositionally separate and distinct?
i believe them to be a single process. it's a mystery how long this process will continue, but when it reaches its conclusion,
i hope that all of them together can be seen as a single work.
~ seth nehil & kiyoharu kuwayama
over a decade now, kiyoharu kuwayama has been obsessively searching for expansive resonances within empty industrial
spaces, activating those reverberant frequencies with an assortment of chains, found objects, and the occasional
instrument. it's as if he's taken organum's classic vacant lights as the jumping off point for his entire career,
conducting poignant rituals within deserted cathedrals of industry. on catastrophe point 7, he veers slightly from
his modus operandi, choosing to record within the arsenic theatre in lausanne, switzerland, an inhabited space at the time
aside form a few sombre notes on a piano (obviously a rarity in kuwayama's wanderings), the results don't stray far from
his signature sounds of cavernous thrumming and wooden clanks layered in poetic fashion within closely documented textures
of grit and dirt being scraped across concrete floors
~ jim haynes
"catastrophe point 7 & 8" is a haunting, eerier, original and subdued noisy mixture of: industrial like field recordings,
drones and the odd dab of minimalist piano patterning and texturing. the lethe project is all the work of japanese sound
artists, subtle improviser and uneasy mood-setter kuwayama kiyoharu. the project has been in existence since the late 1990's,
and it certainly has a very distinctive, detailed yet unequal feel to it's sonic unfold.
first off it's worth mentioning the rather stark, grim yet oddly beautiful letter press & handmade 3 panel black card sleeve
that the two cd's come in. the cover features a rather cryptic picture of a single stone half in light and half in darkness on
the cover, inside the sleeve are inversed or solarised pictures of the inside of an abandoned factory. and in the middle pocket
of the sleeve is a single sheet of white a4 that offers a rather pretentious and highbrow description of the projects intentions
(but don't let this put you off!).
this two disc set offers up two lengthy twenty plus minute tracks on the first disc, and three tracks on the second disc which
fall between just over the thirteen and twenty minute mark a piece. each disc is also themed around one site where field records
are made/created by the environment around kiyoharu. the first disc features the two tracks of catastrophe point 7, and was
recorded in a contemporary theatre space rather grimly called arsenic in lausanne, switzerland. and the second disc features the
three tracks that make up catastrophe point 7, and this was recorded in an abandoned power station in scotland.
each of the five pieces finds kiyoharu creating a very captivating and detailed, yet often subdued and spaced-out sound map that
takes in: echoed walking, pipe clunking and dragging, all manner of sawing, banging and cluttering, glass breaking and debris
pulling apart, eerier and harmonic drone textures, and the odd touch of doomy or tinkling piano minimalism. kiyoharu then
arrangers these elements into semi rhythmic or structured patterns that sometimes flit with harmonic detail. all the tracks
are very loose yet precise making sure there's space to hear and appreciate each element, yet it also keeps some kind of structure
and progression in place too.
i guess it's quite difficult to really define what this is as it sits between being an: field recording album, an natural ambient
album, a subtle improvised album, and a minimalist compositions album- and i guess that's what makes this so rewarding, intriguing
and original. so if your after something that rather blurs the lines between subtle noise, found sound and ambience this is a must
~ roger batty