Exposé Online banner

James Coleman — Zuihutsu
(Sedimental SEDCD-30, 2001, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2003-02-01

Zuihutsu Cover artWe’re all familiar with the swooping outer-space sound of the theremin, the venerable electronic instrument played by waving the hands in the air around an antenna, so when I received a copy of a CD labeled “James Coleman: Theremin” I expected that I would be in for a collection of serious (or relatively serious) music featuring that kind of sound. The first thing that’s really noticeable about this album is that that virtually nothing on it sounds like a theremin. Much of the music is very sparse, seemingly improvised non-tonal, non-rhythmic soundscapes. Coleman is joined by assorted other players on trumpet, cello, soprano sax, voice (no lyrics though), percussion, and other assorted noisemakers, such as Vic Rawlings’ electronics, “amplified cello” and “aluminum cello” (a pretty fascinating concept on its own). The title of the CD is apparently Japanese for “running brush” – a term applied to calligraphy, and it’s a particularly appropriate metaphor for the sketchy telegraphed sounds presented. It’s as if the musicians have reduced their music down to the fewest number of brushstrokes to convey what they see as the essence of the music, in the process making it so abstract that the listener must really struggle to see the patterns or meanings. In the process, they have made something that many would not call music at all, I suppose, but the sounds are rather interesting in their own right, as long as you’re not expecting a catchy tune or a beat you can dance to.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 26, 2001 releases

Related artist(s): James Coleman

Latest news

2018-06-05
Koenjihyakkei Seeks Funding for New Album – It's been quite a few years since the last new studio album by the amazing Koenjihyakkei. Now they are preparing Dhormimviskha for worldwide release, and they're asking fans to pre-order via a Kickstarter campaign to help it happen. » Read more

2018-05-14
Glenn Branca RIP – Experimental guitarist and composer Glenn Branca has died at the age of 69. He was known for compositions featuring large ensembles of guitars, and for the use of feedback. He founded his band Theoretical Girls in the mid-70s as an art-punk answer to what he saw as the increasing commercialization of punk music. His compositions were highly influential, with such figures as David Bowie, Thurston Moore, and John Lurie among his fans. » Read more

2018-04-05
OBEY Convention XI Set for May 24-28 in Halifax – As the 2018 festival season rapidly approaches, we’d like you to be aware of a real treasure of diverse and creative music that’s going to take place in Halifax, Nova Scotia, next month. The OBEY Convention is on its 11th outing, and features a wide range of artists from around the world. From avant-industrial noise to experimental takes on Classical Chinese music, from chamber jazz to doom metal, from ambient soundscapes to Canadian First Nations drumming, you’d be hard pressed to find a festival with more variety in sound anywhere in the world. » Read more

2018-04-04
Close to the Rain Festival in Bergen Announces Lineup – Now in its second year, the Close to the Rain Festival of progressive music is scheduled to take place in Bergen, Norway, on June 7 - 9. They've got an amazing slate of bands lined up, including such powerhouses as Anekdoten, Major Parkinson, Arabs in Aspic, Tusmørke, and many more. » Read more

2018-03-01
Seaprog 2018 Artist Announcements Raise Festival's Profile – Seattle's Seaprog festival has been going since 2013, and the 2018 edition features a slate of artists that's sure to bring more attention to the event. Cheer-Accident, Bubblemath, and Free Salamander Exhibit are in the first round announcement of performers. In keeping with their tradition of focusing on regional artists, they will also present a number of artists from Washington and Oregon. [Edit: Just added: Inner Ear Brigade] » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Maxophone - Maxophone – Ah yes, yet another great Italian band. The closest comparison that I can make is with Locanda delle Fate, but that doesn't quite describe Maxophone. While Locanda was a full, rich seven piece that...  (1993) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues