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Otomo Yoshihide's Far East Network to Make North American Debut at Japan Society

Wizard experimental/noise unit FEN (Far East Network) makes its North American debut at Japan Society on Saturday, May 14 for a one-of-a-kind evening of sound exploration.

Led by pioneering Japanese experimental musician Otomo Yoshihide, FEN includes three equally adventurous avant-garde musicians from neighboring countries: Ryu Hankil (S. Korea), Yan Jun (China), and Yuen Chee Wai (Singapore).

The group will present two improvisational performances on the 14th:

In Set #1 the artists will focus on exploration of space and environment in a performance site-specific to Japan Society's gorgeous foyer. Audiences are invited to walk amongst the artists and experience the performance from 360°. The Club-style session will take place on Japan Society's main floor from 7:00-8:00PM (standing only).

Set #2 will be a sit-down concert hall performance at Japan Society's Lila Acheson Wallace auditorium from 9:30-10:30PM (general seating).

Single session pass: $18 / $15 Japan Society members. Two session pass: $32 / $26 Two-session pass. Cash bar | Tickets may be purchased by calling the Box Office at 212/715-1258.

The week prior to their performances, FEN will be in residence at Pioneer Works - a center for research and experimentation in contemporary culture in Brooklyn that houses artist studios, exhibition and performance spaces, a recording studio, and more - where the group will make its debut recording. "The intellectual and cultural diversity of New York City makes it an ideal place for FEN to make its debut recording," says Otomo. "Often times, the cultural climate in Asia can be driven by nationalism rather than thinking in global context, and so we hope that recording in such an inclusive environment as New York will inspire other Asian artists to broaden their own horizons." More information on Pioneer Works can be found at pioneerworks.org.

The "incredibly adept" (The New York Times) Otomo Yoshihide is revered as a pioneer of Onkyo-kei ("noise music"), a movement dating back to the 1990s in Japan. He is known for his distinct style of improvisation, which employs original extended techniques to coax unfathomable sounds out of his electric guitar, turntables, and other audio equipment. Otomo has recently gained wider exposure in the U.S. via high-profile collaborations with Christian Marclay and John Zorn.

Onkyo-kei is the uniting force among the four artists of FEN, who favor the exploration of texture and timbre over melody and harmony, blurring the lines between noise and silence, density and sparseness. The group describes its aesthetic as "a sound-oriented attitude, embracing local and individual sound rather than established musical structure." For many years, Otomo Yoshihide, Ryu Hankil, Yan Jun, and Yuen Chee Wai supported one another through group performances in their respective countries before forming FEN in 2008. Since then, the group has performed across Europe and Asia, with notable appearances at LUFF in Switzerland, All Ears in Norway, and at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in South Korea.

The union and collaborative attitude of FEN point toward a truly pan-Asian cultural climate. Otomo remarks that, "Following WWII, Europe successfully developed many exchange opportunities for musicians of various European nationalities. Asia, however, has made little progress in fostering these types of cultural exchanges, partially due to language barriers but also because of political tensions. As democracy in Asia has stabilized, there has been a birth in alternative music, and Asian musicians have slowly begun communicating with each other. Yet, such a phenomenon dates only to the beginning of the 21st century. We strongly believe that for the sake of Asia's cultural future--both nationally and individually--it is important for Asian musicians to communicate and collaborate. FEN is a network of alternative musicians from Seoul, Beijing, Singapore and Tokyo. With this network at the core, and together with my own "Ensemble Asia" activities, exchange between alternative musicians from throughout Asia has accelerated. I believe this has great significance for the future of Asian culture." Moving forward, FEN endeavors to achieve foundation status, so that they may dedicate more time to facilitating cultural exchanges among like-minded experimental musicians in Asia.

Since the inception of the Performing Arts Program in 1953, Japan Society has introduced nearly 700 of Japan's finest performing arts to an extensive American audience. Programs range from the traditional arts of noh, kyogen, bunraku and kabuki to cutting-edge theater, dance and music. The Program also commissions new works to non-Japanese artists, produces national tours, organizes residency programs for American and Japanese artists and develops and distributes educational programs. Wrote Back Stage, "At once diverse and daring, the program stands toe to toe with some of the most comprehensive cultural exchange endeavors today."

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan.

This program is supported by Doug and Teresa Peterson. Additional support is provided by the Asian Cultural Council.

Tickets for performances and related events at Japan Society can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 212/715-1258 or in person at Japan Society (M 12:00-6:00pm; T-Th 11:00am - 6:00pm; F 11:00am - 9:00pm; Sat-Sun 11:00am - 5:00pm). Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit www.japansociety.org.

Pioneer Works is a center for research and experimentation in contemporary culture. Through a broad range of exhibitions, performances, arts and science residencies, and educational programs, Pioneer Works seeks to transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries, foster community, and provide a space where alternative modes of thought are supported and activated in tangible ways.

The organization was founded in 2012 by artist Dustin Yellin and is located in a 25,000-square-foot manufacturing warehouse in Red Hook, Brooklyn. After an extensive renovation, the facility now houses artist studios, exhibition and performance spaces, a science lab, a recording studio, and other spaces as needs arise. The floor plan is open and flexible, encouraging a transparent, collaborative environment where international artists, musicians, scientists and educators can co-exist and co-create.

Entry to Pioneer Works' main exhibition space and artist-in-residence studios are free and open to the public Wednesdaythrough Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. Tours are available upon request. Pioneer Works is a non-profit 501(c)(3). For more information, visit pioneerworks.org.



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