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

2019-06-05
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more

2019-04-24
Help MoonJune Bring Great Music to Life – Like many music lovers around the world, we’ve been thrilled and amazed to hear the recordings that have been released by MoonJune from sessions at La Casa Murada in Spain. Such label stalwarts as Mark Wingfield, Markus Reuter, Asaf Sirkis, Tony Levin, Dusan Jevtovic, Vasil Hadzimanov, and many more have gathered in various combinations at the studio to produce some of the most creative music in recent years. Now, label head Leonardo Pavkovic is offering a compilation, La Casa Murada - MoonJune Sessions, Volume One, as a fundraiser for upcoming sessions. » Read more

2019-04-10
The Pineapple Thief to Tour North America – November and December of 2019 will see The Pineapple Thief bringing their music to Canada, Mexico, and the US, and famed drummer Gavin Harrison will be on board. The band has been touring extensively in Europe, but North America will be new territory for them. » Read more

2019-03-25
Scott Walker RIP – Noel Scott Engel, better known as Scott Walker, was one of the most intriguing and enigmatic musical figures in the second half of the 20th Century. His strange career started with The Walker Brothers, an American pop group that featured no one named Walker and no brothers. After moving to England in 1965, they had a series of hit singles. Scott's solo work started with Scott in 1967. Starting in the 80s, his work took an increasingly avant-garde turn. » Read more

2019-03-20
Freedom to Spend Unearths June Chikuma's Archives – Jun (June) Chikuma is well known for her video game and anime soundtracks, but she also released an album of experimental electronic music back in 1986 called Divertimento where she indulged the kind of spontaneity that wouldn't work in a soundtrack. RVNG Int'l label Freedom to Spend is bringing this overlooked item to broader attention with a deluxe reissue. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Various Artists - Neu Konservatiw – I understand that God Mountain doesn't want to become known as a progressive rock label... but with non-album tracks included by bands like Tipographica and Koenji Hyakkei, as well as several...  (1995) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues