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

2020-10-14
Audion Is Back in Business – Our esteemed colleague Alan Freeman has restarted Audion Magazine after a seven year hiatus. The new incarnation is available online on their Bandcamp site. Audion's history goes back to 1984, and included 58 issues up to 2013. Issue #59 is available now, and #60 is in the works. » Read more

2020-10-06
Romantic Warriors IV – Krautrock (Part 2) Is in the Works – Zeitgeist Media, the people who have brought us the great series of documentary films chronicling the history of progressive rock, are working on the second installment of their examination of German music. Krautrock 2 will focus on artists from Münich such as Guru Guru, Amon Düül II, Xhol Caravan, Kraan, Witthüser & Westrupp, and Popol Vuh. » Read more

2020-09-09
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more

2020-09-05
Gary Peacock RIP – Legendary bassist Gary Peacock, veteran of many recordings and performances with Paul Bley, George Russell, Roland Kirk, Bill Evans, Tony Williams, and many more. » Read more

2020-07-22
Tim Smith RIP – Tim Smith, leader of the eccentric band Cardiacs, has died at the age of 59 after many years of health problems. Cardiacs was known for intense and complicated music that combined punk energy with the rhythmic and harmonic sophistication of progressive rock. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Travis & Fripp - Thread – Given the extensive musical resumes of Theo Travis and Robert Fripp, it was only a matter of synchronicity that would lead to a real time collaboration by these two innovators. Travis work with Cipher...  (2009) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues