Lukas Simonis & Takayuki Kawabata : News

cat. nr. Z6 0893

€ 15 (few copies left)



Lukas Simonis -guitar, composition, mixing, Takayuki Kawabata – words, Nina Hitz- cello, Kumi Kondo – cello, voice, translations, Miki Sugiura – voice

It was cello-player Kumi Kondo who asked Simonis to write a ‘multiphonic’ (cello & voice) piece for her final exams for the Rotterdam Conservatory in 2004. The lyrics of this song –Iyashi- were written by the Japanese Poet Takayuki Kawabata and having discovered his work like this, Simonis suggested to do a bigger project together. Out this came ‘NEWS’ which consists of the songcycle with the same name (the first 5 songs on the cd) and 3 other Kawabata (inspired) songs.
Simonis wrote some music and made some ‘route descriptions’ for the band that consisted of two cello’s, a guitar & voice. After the recordings ,that thus involved a large part of improvisation, Simonis took his time, editing and mixing the material, almost like re(de?)composing the stuff.

So what we have here, is -not unlike Simonis’ last CD ‘Stots’- a project that is in a way about the misunderstanding of (a) language and therefore very suitable for massive misinterpretation. A fact that is eagerly exploited in the use of composition as a commoditive tool.
In the meantime we hear a much more quieter and esthetically friendlier landscape then in ‘Stots’. Then there’s the disoriented ‘remix’ of reality that happens in Kawabata’s texts. And last but not least, the interpretations of the ‘band’ that, except for Simonis sparse contributions on guitar, consists of two cello’s –Nina Hitz and Kumi Kondo- and the beautiful voice of Miki Sugiura.



Lukas Simonis & Takayuki Kawabata – News [cd, Z6 / Korm Plastics / Staalplaat]
Tue, 18.12.2007

Gitarist Lukas Simonis is een interessante muzikant. Als ik hem op het podium bezig zie, moet ik altijd denken aan wijlen mijn vader, zoals die met onze Märklin-spoorbaan of met transistorontvangertjes kon knutselen. Gerommel met vijltjes, schroevendraaiers. Het lichte gerammel van zoeken in een bakje met boutjes en moertjes. En zo klinkt veel van zijn muziek ook. Als improvisator binnen een ensemble slaagt Simonis er zo vaak in om een aangenaam karakteristieke bijdrage te leveren aan het totaalgeluid.

En dat is nu precies het album met Lukas Somonis’ meest recente album News, dat hij officieel samen maakte met de Japanse dichter Takayuki Kawabata. De laatste is echter niet daadwerkelijk te horen – hij leverde alleen de teksten. Wel drie andere musici: de cellistes Kumi Otte Kondo – die Simonis in het kader van haar afstudeerproject aan het Rotterdams Conservatorium op het spoor van Kawabata zette – en Nina Hitz en vocaliste Miki Sugiura.
Alle karakteristieke elementen van Simonis’ dwarse gitaarspel en compositieopvattingen zijn aanwezig. Maar in dit geval ‘rolt’ de muziek. Het zijn natuurlijk met name de teksten – de gedichten – deels in het Japans en deels in het Engels vertaald – die de muziek iets lineairs geven. Die de muziek meesleurt door de tijd. Met de partijen van beide cellistes als smeerolie. Terwijl Simonis zoals van hen gebruikelijk een pad met de nodige kuilen en hobbels heeft uitgezet. Maar het werkt, want je wordt uitgedaagd om de acht stukken telkens weer opnieuw te doorgronden.

By: Peter Bruyn/ cut-up magazine



Lukas Simonis is not an overly productive type of solo artist, but what he has been releasing of late deserves the utmost attention and respect, showcasing the ideas of a talented composer and a rather unequalled personality in a panorama of too many shouters who have actually nothing crucial to say. What he does want to say, on the contrary, is that a language is “very suitable for massive misinterpretation”. I love this concept, as a firm non-believer in the common usage of words; transitively, I also liked this album, originally deriving from a “multiphonic” piece that the author wrote for cellist Kumi Otte Kondo, based on a text by Japanese poet Takayuki Kawabata. Intrigued by the latter’s writings, Simonis further elaborated the hypothesis by creating “News”, scored for his guitar, a female voice (Miki Sugiura) and two cellos (Kondo and Nina Hitz). The basis of everything is improvisation: the players recorded their parts following some “route descriptions” by the leader, who subsequently took the material to decompose and remodel it. What emerges from this manipulation is an absorbing music that jumps from one non-meaning to another, yet maintains a fascinating lyrical aspect (the cellos are undoubtedly responsible for the large part of this). Due to the uncommon vocalism of Sugiura and the scissoring zigzags of an almost unrecognizable guitar – appearing just every once in a while for additional destabilizations of the process – we often think about a hypothetical opera written by William Burroughs, unexpected cuts and sudden changes all over the place. Yet this is not someone rummaging through genres in the name of a presumed geniality. No, this is serious stuff whose pigmentation reveals weeks of hard work and passionate involvement. My applause for its excellence comes well deserved.

massimo ricci touching extremes


Guitarist and composer Lukas Simonis is known for his work with groups like Dull Schicksal, Trespassers W, Morzelpronk, Liana Flu Winks, AA Kismet, Vril and Coolhaven. All of them experimental and crazy groups. On his solo cd ‘Stots’ he showed himself from an even more experimental side. One wonders according to what rules this work is composed, as it is a very weird experience. But it really works. This is also the case for this new cd ‘News’, that is a much quieter cd then ‘Stots’. On ‘News’ we hear two cello players: Nina Hitz and Kumi Kondo. Plus Miki Sugiura (voice) and Simonis himself on guitar and effects. This project came about from as an initiative from Kumi Kondo who asked Simonis for a project on the japanese poet Takayuki Kawabata serving for her final exams on the Rotterdam Conservatory in 2004. Afterwards they extended and deepened the project into a cycle of eight ‘songs’, around the poems of Takayuki Kawabata. Simonis wrote the songs that were performed by the above mentioned musicians. Then Simonis manipulated the recordings through a process of editing, etc. and shaped the songs to its definite form. Concerning the poems they are spoken in japanese, and besides maybe Simonis twisted her words around. Who tells? We are left with the sound of the japanese language and the beautiful voice of vocalist Miki Sugiura. But also the soundenvironment Simonis created for these poems make ‘News’ into an interesting listening experience. (DM)

Vital weekly


Even though, at that time, he already had many – and varied – musical experiences under his belt, it was only a few years ago, thanks to the release of Effigies In Cork, the debut album by Vril, that I listened to Dutch guitarist Lukas Simonis for the first time. A “twangy guitar album” in the tradition of the Ventures, the Shadows, and surf music, but brought up-to-date, the work had Simonis – who had penned the tracks – play alongside USA multi-instrumentalist Bob Drake and UK drummer Chris Cutler.

Knowing about his quite varied background helped me more than a bit in order to overcome the initial shock of listening to Stots, a mostly solo album by Simonis (with just a few cello parts played by Nina Hitz) that featured improvisation and tapes, studio work and a certain “rock” flavour, even if for this writer the outcome (which at times appeared to be perfectly aware of the acquisitions of modern “glitch-ism”) appeared to be destined to be filed under the “not completely successful experiments” category. (Whether this was due to Simonis not being yet a master of the compositional process, or to this writer not being much in love with climates that for lack of a better word I’ll have to call “para-industrial”, is an enigma for which readers will have to find their own solution.)

NEWS is a new work, whose ingredients, on the surface, are quite simple. Simonis wrote the music, while Takayuki Kawabata (whose name I have never heard before) wrote the lyrics, which are featured on the CD cover, and also spoken or sung, in Japanese or in English. Simonis plays the guitar, which mostly appears as “sound” (the main exception being an arpeggio sounding halfway between Thinking Plague and Pink Floyd which appears more than once in the track titled Original NEWS), and also “effects”, which judging from their timbre to me sounded for the most part as being the fruit of FM synthesis; he also did the studio work and the editing. On this rich background, we have Miki Sugiura on vocals and Kumi Otte Kondo and Nina Hitz on cellos. The (very brief) liner notes also talk about group “improvisations”, which didn’t add much to my understanding of the music.

The work appears as being quite longer than it really is (about thirty-five minutes), which has to be taken as proof of the material having great variety and density (though textures often have a “light” quality), not as proof of great tedium. It’s mostly the vocal parts, I think, that could constitute the main obstacle for those who are not accustomed to this kind of vocal approach; while cellos (arco or pizzicato, very often playing actual melodies), and some recurring melodic arias (the first tracks are almost organized like a suite), will be convenient entry points for the listener. And even those tracks where it’s easier to spot the “artificial” in action – for instance, the track titled Remixx – succeed in involving the listener without being too disconcerting.

The paring of female vocals and cello reminded me sometimes of (what for this writer is) the most recent album by Haco, Ash In The Rainbow (by the way: how come it was so underappreciated?), but NEWS has its own personality.

Beppe Colli, Clouds & Clocks


The music on Lukas Simonis’ latest release, News, consists of two cello’s played by Nina Hitz and Kumi Kondo, the enigmatic voice of Miki Sugiura and Mr Simonis on guitar, not that it sounds like a guitar very often.
Apparently, although the ensemble was given musical pointers by the composer, the tracks are predominately ‘spur of the moment’ stuff. Improv at its best but given the strange instrumentation, it rarely veers off the road to Free(jazz)town. Which, would be bad (IMHO).

Ms Sugiura is tempted to please the composer in his love of mumbled rambling and does so, once or twice, resulting in this reviewers subtle manipulation of the ITunes seek bar. However, when she recites, slash sings the poems of Takayuki Kawabata, the effect is mesmerizing. Just think about it, just for a moment, think about the genius of the aforementioned line-up. Left and right, two cellos, freely but expertly played, the buzzing and crackling guitar at the back, and the wonderfully exotic female Japanese voice, forward, center and proud.

And thats not all folks!

The recordings themselves have then been taken and manipulated by Simonis. Not much, or not so you would notice, but in a few key places and to startling effect, like when the voice is pitch shifted and harmonised, or when the guitar effortlessly slides backwards. Is that a certain pedal Lukas?
Perhaps spotted in my previous review?
A pedal that I also own and over-used by us both?
A wonderful yellow, discontinued and undiscovered gem of a pedal, let it remain nameless, that only the worthy shall discover its true function as… the instrument of God (or Satan) !

This is not electronica however, or electro-acoustic, although a few moments do remind me of Stockhausen’s Gesang der Jünglinge. This has more soul and life than that, it is much less an experiment and much more music. Its spooky in a kind of playful zany way, maybe Americans would call it Kooky?

It puts me in mind of music that should be used to score eastern European animations (albeit influenced by Manga – if such an unholy genre exists) Dusty black and white experiments in light and dark. Hidden horrible objects becoming alive in shadows, girls with dirty knees and over-large eyes crawling up endless stairs, clocks, clowns and moths flittering near candles.

Like my first contact with Lukas Simonis, it has taken a while to get into this, but unlike the eclecticism of stotS, his previous release I reviewed on these pages, News is all rather similar. So, despite all that I said before about the genius of the instrumentation, by the time you have come to the end of the CD (and the end of a review about it) you have had enough. Still like it though, but a tune or a beat once in a while wouldn’t kill me.

Furthernoise / review by Mark Francombe


LUKAS SIMONIS & TAKAYUKI KAWABATA News (Z6 Records, Z6 0893): Was für ein bizarrer Mischmasch, Kawabata (*1960, Osaka) dichtete und inspirierte, Kumi Kondo aus Connecticut übersetzte, spielte Cello und sang ein bisschen,  denn hauptsächlich hört man den Sprechgesang von Miki Sugiura; Nina Hitz aus der Schweiz spielte das zweite Cello, Andreas Mehringer komponierte und Simonis, seinerseits Rotterdamer Musikant (Dull Schicksal, Liana Flu Winks, The Discombobulators, Vril und Coolhaven), komponierte noch mehr und remixte und ließ kurz seine Gitarre dazwischenfunken. So entstand ein Songzyklus, der umgehend wieder dekonstruiert und remixt wurde. Übersetzungen und kreative Missverständnissse sind auch explizit das Thema und dazu würde passen, dass (eine) Miki Sugiura MDa wissenschaftlich über die Rolle von Zwischenhändlern im frühmodernen Kapitalismus arbeitet. Als (Sprech)-Sängerin hat sie sich den Charme ‚natürlicher‘ Japonaiserie nicht austreiben lassen. So fragil artikuliert sie Zeilen wie I speak the old language of an eastern fisherman stuffed in my mouth are fallen leaves.  is it my brain that will die away first?  leave me alone.  yellow bugs… oder I have nothing to say, because tomorrow my bowels with malignant blood will burst, dass man nicht nur bei den japanischen Versionen lange nicht den grausligen Tenor bemerkt. The city  stone pavement  underneath cherry blossom petals  a hole of boredom, I hide myself in the hole I will smolder out my life klingt aus ihrem Mund wie ein bisher unbekanntes Art-Bears-Stück. Unter Cellostrichen und Remixschichten verschüttet werden Fleurs-du-Mal-Manierismen hörbar, wie sie schon Dagmar Krause, Catherine Jauniaux oder Haco ins Ohr träufelten. ‚Kunstlied‘ wird von Simonis neu definiert, als Palimpsest mit elektronischen Mitteln, als elektroakustisches Hybrid aus Top-down- und Bottom-up-Avantness.

Bad Alchemy/Rigobert Dittmann


Poèmes, improvisation et collages. Guitariste, compositeur, écrivain, poète, éditeur, animateur radio néerlandais, Lukas Simonis est connu pour son travail au sein des groupes Dull Schicksal, Trespassers W, Morzelpronk, Liana Flu Winks, AA Kismet, Vril (avec Bob Drake et Chris Cutler), Coolhaven, mais également pour ses expérimentations / improvisations avec des artistes tels que Eugene Chadbourne, Eddie Prevost, Pierre Bastien, Trevor Wishart, Greg Malcolm, Henk Bakker… Ce nouveau disque “News” est une pure merveille pour l’écoute, et comme le précédent “Stots”, il sort sur le label Z6. Plus calme, il semble même plus abouti.
Violoncelles, voix et guitare avec effets sont les seuls ingrédients qui viennent donner corps aux écrits du poète japonais Takayuki Kawabata. Simonis signe toutes les compositions musicales, celles-ci étant interprétées par lui-même et trois acolytes, Kumi Otte Kondo (à l’initiative du projet), Miki Sugura et Nina Hitz. Après de multiples manipulations studio de Lukas Simonis, ces neuf titres issus de véritables séances d’improvisation entre 2005 et 2007 prennent leur forme définitive. Les poèmes sont récités en japonais par la chanteuse Miki Sugiura qui s’adonne également à de véritables prouesses vocales douce-amer toujours enivrantes !
Un opus succulent, atypique à souhait. Saké tulipe !

sonhors e-zine (fr)


News est le fruit de la rencontre heureuse entre deux artistes qui ne se limitent pas à leurs domaines respectifs, qu’il s’agisse de l’expérimentation musicale chez Lukas Simonis ou de la poésie chez Takayuki Kawabata. Leur engagement individuel dans la performance théâtrale, la danse ou les arts visuels en témoigne et le résultat de cette première collaboration le confirme. Cette étrange suite, construite à partir de morceaux plus ou moins improvisés, forme un collage sonore où se mêlent bribes narratives, cordes rêches et dysfonctionnements électroniques. Quatre musiciens participent à cette performance : Kumi Kondo (violoncelle et voix), Miki Sugiura (voix principale), Nina Hitz (violoncelle) et Lukas Simonis (guitare, effets et montage). La sobriété de l’instrumentation laisse une grande place à la voix qui fredonne, susurre ou éructe des fragments de poésie, en japonais, en anglais et parfois dans une langue qui n’en est pas une. Si une large partie des paroles reste donc littéralement incompréhensible pour l‘auditeur même attentif, d’autres passages donnent une idée du climat général de ce disque : « I slip out below I am under the floor on the cold ground white bone dust over my back, I sleep » (Je me glisse au dessous je suis sous le sol sur la terre froide poudre d’os blanc sur le dos, je dors) : on jurerait le titre d’un album de Keiji Haino ! Vous l’aurez compris, cette musique inclassable évoque un grand nombre d’images à la fois subtilement obscures et délicieusement perturbantes.

octopus e-ine, (fr) Jean-Claude Gevrey


This is a project of songs played by the cellist Kumi Otte Kondo, written and produced by Lukas Simonis, using lyrics from Japanese poet Takayuki Kawabata sung by Miki Sugiura. The entire effect is unnerving, evoking the distancing of urban life, result of too many humans brushing up against each other, as in the subways displayed on the CD sleeve.

“Shosoku” features an angular grinding of cello, and bright snippets of Miki Sugiura’s voice, like something processed and served in a can. On “Original NEWS” her voice goes from childish wonder to gruffness, over guitar arpeggios and chunky chords. “Remixx” suffers cello stabs and long notes.

“Iyashi”, written for Kondo’s final exams at the Rotterdam Conservatory in 2004, was the first song in this project. A cello saws, while Miki Sugiura’s voice is layered atop it. “Manhole Theme” includes percussion, multi-tracked banging on cello, dense audio processing, then a cooing and trilling female voice.

This is the soundtrack of mildly depressed people, detached and disaffected, their depth dismissed and kept at arms length to meet the incessant demands of contemporary city life and office work. Both music and words remind us of the affectless prose of novelist Banana Yoshimoto, or the dribbling, horny artwork of “Mr.”; for the parents of the mute, misshapen baby monster or monster baby figures sculpted and painted by Izumi Kato. As Kawabata writes in “News Remikkusu”, “I have nothing to say because tomorrow will be rain…I am taken away by city ghosts.”

Reviewed by Michael R. (Mike) Mosher for LEONARDO, online review


Les tops album 2008 des amis d’Ondefixe

Fabrice Vanoverberg (Octopus, RifRaf, Les passions de Fab)

01. Byetone : Death Of A Typographer (Raster-Noton)
02. alva noto : unitxt (Raster-Noton)
03. Evangelista : Hello, Voyager (Constellation)
04. Portishead : Third (Island)
05. Setting Sun : Children Of The Wild (Young Love Records)
06. LEMUR : IIIIIII (+3dB)
07. Giuseppe Ielasi : Stunt (Schoolmap Records)
08. Prurient : Arrowhead (Editions Mego)
09. stretchandrelax …/Instead of Buying Shoes (Nowaki)
10. Lukas Simonis & Takayuki Kawabata : News (Z6)