Curator’s notes: Tatsuya Nakatani, Tar Pet and Midwaste

Tone Madison presents a transportive percussionist and two Madison experimental acts on August 5 at Arts + Lit Lab.

Tone Madison presents a transportive percussionist and two Madison experimental acts on August 5 at Arts + Lit Lab.


Photo by Peter Gannushkin.

Photo by Peter Gannushkin.

Percussionist, improviser, builder of custom bows, and gong-orchestra leader Tatsuya Nakatani will be playing solo to headline the Friday, August 5 show we’re presenting at Arts + Literature Laboratory. Whether it will sound or feel like a solo performance is a different matter: Nakatani uses drum kit, singing bowls, bowed gongs and snares, and even breath to explore the endless variety of textures one can get from hitting or scraping one acoustic object against another.

He does all this with his four limbs, conjuring a stormy rumble on the kick drum while he sends the bowls spinning in fragmented melodies, or bows a gong to produce gales of dense harmonics, or blows through a small cymbal placed atop a snare drum to create keening, reed-like sounds. In my experience these improvised sets are both fierce and deeply intimate, sonically nuanced but intensely physical.

Nakatani, a native of Osaka, Japan, is based in Easton, Pennsylvania, but keeps up a relentless touring schedule. Since moving to the United States in 1994, he’s performed in dozens of ensembles and collaborations, with artists ranging from Portuguese experimental-music heavy Rafael Toral to jazz guitarist Mary Halvorson to the early incarnation of overpowering psych-rock outfit The Psychic Paramount. Since 2011 he has also conducted the Tatsuya Nakatani Gong Orchestra, in which he teaches players his own approach to playing gongs with bows and mallets. The 2012 LP Nakatani Gong Orchestra captures five- and six-piece versions of the project: It’s all gongs, yielding up layers of glassy, twisting highs and deep droning bass, at once hushed and somehow physically massive. I’d love to bring him back out for a Gong Orchestra show eventually, but that Nakatani’s solo sets share that project’s techniques and transportive dynamism.

Before Nakatani goes on, Taralie Peterson of Madison/NYC duo Spires That In The Sunset Rise will play a set under her solo moniker, Tar Pet. Peterson uses cello, sax, loops, and her eerily affecting vocals in songs that, like much of STITSR’s material, have their own strangely flowing logic and structure. Peterson says her set here will range between composed material and improvisation, and fellow experimental musician Emili Earhart will be joining for part of it. Tar Pet’s last release was 2013’s Deaf Drawing Blind Listening; learn more about the project in a conversation Peterson and I had for the Tone Madison podcast last year.

Madison drone outfit Midwaste, opening up this show, have previously appeared at our GateSound series and were a late addition. Comprised of Epiphany Compton (tapes, electronics) and Spencer Bible (guitar, electronics), Midwaste will play here to celebrate the release of a new cassette and VHS tape. Their one release so far, the 2016 EP As Relayed, finds Bible’s delay-soaked guitar providing a textural and melodic backdrop while Compton spins together a warped and witty landscape of samples and field recordings.

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