DISCOGRAPHY (Comment/Note/Critic)

#Notes of Forestry


Motohiko Hamase/Notes of Forestry


Explore the Many Shades of Green

The third album by bassist/composer Motohiko Hamase searches for new frontiers of natural expression. Using computers to craft his compositions, Hamase accompanies his provacative yet gentle bass playing with the streaming piano of Satsuki Shibano and the subtle dynamics of percussionist Yasunori Yamaguchi. Like a vast painted landscape, Hamase's insightful instrumental pieces echo his conviction, that "there is always more music than words in a musician."

critic on "Audion" (English) July 1990

Audion #15 July 1990



(Newsic 32CD-N001) CD:38m


Hamase's recording of minimal/post-minimal music is clearly inspired by Steve Reich, but it has a lovely Zen pantina and serene air that is so often characteristic of Japanese composes. Like Reich, Hamase favours the timbres of woodwind instruments (synthesized or sampled), piano, mallet instruments and percussion, augmented by electronics and studio treatments. However, the underlying pulse is not quite as insistent as Reich's, and the harmonic language is a bit more complex and dissonant, though Hamase in no way abandons tonality. The somewhat spikey woodwind melodies and interlocking patterns of NUDE are reminiscent of Reich's brilliant woodwind writing in TEHILLIM and VARIATIONS, and are equally effective. PASCAL is characterized by curious, rocking synthesized flute or recorder ostinatos and periodic angular melodies, with irregular punctuation by electric bass and metal percussion. Hamase makes his most personal and distinctive statement in #NOTES OF FORESTRY, with its angular, but lovely melodies, modular mellet percussion patterns, and a blend of jazz tinged electric bass and flute solos with more rigorous, post-minimal structures and textures. Hamase makes some very special music indeed.

[Newsic, Wacoal Arts Center, 5-6-23 Minami-Aoyama, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107, Japan.]


Dean Suzuki

critic on "Ear Magazine"(U.S.) April, 1991



Notes of Forestry



Hamase's brand of minimal, or perhaps more accurately, post-minimal music has a lovely Zen patina and the gentle air that characterrizes the work of many Japanese composers. Like Steve Reich, Hamse favors woodwind instruments (sampled or synthesized), piano, and , especially, mallet percussion - timebres fleshed out and augmeted by electronics and various studio processes. Unlike much other minimal music, the underlying pulse, while present, is not insistent. In addition, the individual harmonies are at times complex and rich, even dissonant, though Hamase never abandaons tonality. " Nude" features interlocking patterns and rather spiky woodwind melodies, while "Pascal" is characterized by unlikely rocking ostinatos and angular melodies for flute or recorder-like timbre, with irregular punctuations from electric bass and metal percussion. Hamase's most distinctive and personal musical statement is delivered in "Notes of Forestry," which combines jazzy electric bass and flute line and oblique, irregular, but lovely melodies with modular mallet petitive structure. Surprisingly, this seemingly incompatible mix of structural rigor and loose, even free musical events works very well indeed.


Dean Suzuki


comment about this album


1987 live recording at Aoyama Spiral including 12 tunes with tunes from "Reminiscence" and "Intaglio" and other unreleased numbers. The hottest performances joined by Yasunori Yamaguchi, the greatest percussionist in contemporary music scene, reaches and untrodden musical territory. Best album to get to know Motohiko Hamase before "Notes of Forestry".


You can hear all the details of Motohiko Hamase's incredible fretless bass technique for 72 minutes which could not be appreciated though studio recordings.


note by Motohiko Hamase


"ANECDOTE" includes recordings of performances played at EAT NEWSIC CONCERT No.3 / MOTOHIKO HAMASE Concert "Reminiscence" on June 12, 1987 at Spiral Garden in Aoyama Spiral, Tokyo, which was planned and sponsored by SPIRAL(Wacol Art Center Corp.).

Since I was deeply impressed by the performance of percussionist Yasunori Yamaguchi who joined the concert, I asked him to join the recording of my new album "Notes of Forestry", which became the first CD release from SPIRAL's CD label NEWSIC, the following year.

"ANECDOTE" also includes some main tunes from CD albums "Reminiscence" and "Intaglio", which suffered from stopping release. The tunes include "Pascal Variant", which is the original version of "Pascal" to be recorded later in "Notes of Forestry", and "Anecdote". I selected "Anecdote" meaning "a secret story" or "an unpublished item" as this album's name since this tune had been rarely recorded on tape and the live recording itself did not have a chance to be released though its release was often planned.

I am deeply attached to performances and tunes in this album. I was able to play sensitive improvisations under the least amount of strain due to Yamaguchi's splendid approach. Keyboard player Toshio Kaji's performance is one of the best I have ever hard. Although most of the tunes in this album were composed about 10 years ago, they are full of the energy of my soul after a deep involvement with Jazz and after I had gotten over my innocent pleasure in composition. I think that the tunes in this album are a reflection of my gift for composition. However, this happier side in composition is what I'm done with for now. I have to positively expose myself tho the present, experimenting my expressional ability as well as my gift for composition in general.

Comparing "ANECDOTE" with two CD albums "Notes of Forestry" and "Technodrome", you will notice the change between them.

January 2, 1993


Notes on "Techndrome" by Motohiko Hamase


A few years ago, the creatrors of house music, who are collective and anonymous, tried to transcend the framework of tonality and expand the fromtiers of music not with any sophisticated ideas but by having an intense beat and bass sounds take center stage in their music. Ambient house also succeeded in realizing the same idea as that of John Cage: eliminationg the border between noise and musical tone. And yet there happenings were not at all in accordance with a new intellectual current. Rather, house music was being consumed in tremendous quantity as a fashion statement. I myself was deeply impressed at this chain of events. However, I also recognaized how drug use acted as a major catalyst of this phenomenon. Because there was too much reliance on drugs for its effect, house music began to reveal its weaknesses and has fallen into a black hole of popularization and stylization.

Both the prosperity and the degradation in house music affected me with an almost violent intensity; I felt the tendencies revealed in house music were not merely fashion, but ware actually symbolic of a change in our image of music. Then, early last autumn, I heard the new releases of Brian Eno and Jon Hassell, both of whom have been consciously pursuing this sign of change. I believe Brian Eno's "Nerve Net"('92) contains the best examples of house music composition around. For his part, Jon Hassell, in "City: works of fiction"('90) provides a thorough expression of city music in one of the most remarkable musical accomplishments of recent years. I also think that there are so many common points in the attitude toward creating music seen in these two works and the musical trials that have been working with over the last ten years.

Coincidentally, last spring I planned to release a collection of chamber music and I had already started composing pieces and bringing together production staff for it("Lattice for saxophone quartet," the eight track on the CD, was the piece that inspired me to work on this collection). After hearing the work of Eno and Hassell, however, I felt driven to express my own musical vision and quickly changed direction, leading to the composing of "Technodrome."

I tried some new approaches with "Technodrome." I used innovative techniques for producing the bass sound. And, to keep my "monocracy" for the recording, I did everything myself, from performing and recording, editing, mixing, and laying down tracks directly on the computer). Also I got bass improvisation not simply for the melody or narrative, but I made it play the role of a picture (for expanding and repeating images as well as several styles of consciousness). Basically, I am trying to destroy the old-fasioned "Improvisation means existence" idea.

"Technodrome" is structured so that it shows neither development nor trasformation. My intenstion was to use repetitions of extremely short phrases for realizing a time sense that has a strong binding force. In fact, this intention and the methods used have not changed at all from my last work, "Notes of Forestry." But, while "Notes of Forestry" attempts to express, on the level of an auditory hallucination, a consciousness of striving and affinities on which life is based, with "Technodrome," I was aiming to express the inverted images, the optical illusions, and the sense of deja-vu that modern persons can get in the city by using the gritty sensation inherent at the core of house music. It was also an attempt to recreate as metaphor the time in our mother's womb.


Annotatons for Each Track by Motohiko Hamase


1. Invisible city
Based on the drum pattern of a rather cheap sound that I took from a sampling CD, and the irregular and grotesque bass pattern in a wave sequence. I tried to create a image of Pop and Jazz music for a fictional futuristic city. My bass solo is not included.
2. Technodrome
The repetitions of bass pattern combined with a snare drum in a wave sequence and numerous claps from the basic structure of this track. This made it possible to give something completely innovative to the bass register. I perform a solo on a fretted bass using a distortion effect. The solo isn't intended to provide a narrative, but to add colors to reiterated rhythm; which itself forms the narrative.
3. Imagery
In this piece four wave sequences runs simultaneously to create a pattern slightly resembling that of a distorted guitar. A sharp, rhythmic attack and collage of noise also form the frame of this track. My solo is the most clearly tonal of all the solos in the collection, using a new system of tonality that is based on my own definition. There may be some people who find the bass sound indistinct, but it appeals to me. In order to provide that sound, I deliberately used strings that had been on the instrument for 10 months.
The title "Imagery" means an aggregate of image.
4. Opaque
Suppose on extremely evolved city reflects the image of extreme retrogression a the same time. This piece is based on this supposition. The bass solo can be said eloquent in a way, however it still remains underneath a mainstream of the image and is intended to make us feel the existence of consciousness.
5. End of legal fiction
This piece was actually the first to be completed and got a position that helped established the principle of this album. So all of other piece were to be composed using the influence of this one. I wonder how people who are concerned with jazz will respond to this piece and my improvisaion? "End of legal fiction" is my message to those who still believe in the myth of jazz. I would especially like young people to listen to this piece as an example of hard rock music while driving a car at full speed on a highway.
6. Chirico
This is named after the painter de Chirico, because when the piece was completed, it reminded me exactly of the space of his work. Perceptive listeners, I believe, will recognize this piece as house music.
7. Moriana
Since I found a log drum pattern in the sampling CD data so fantastic, I decided to make a loop out of it and composed this whole piece. The variations of the bass solo appears while the cloud- or mist-like sound keeps its continuous repeat. In spite of that, the solo presents a rather stable tonality, I will be happy if you find this solo as a factor that provides all sorts of psychological reflections to the rapid repeated scenery. "Moriana" is the name of the imaginated city which appeared in "Le citta invisibli" written by Italo Calvino. "The city looks like it's multiplying its figures one after another; like a picture drawn in perspective. However, in fact, "Moriana" has no depthe; it's like a sheet of paper which only has two faces of the front and reverse side. Furthermore the figures drawn on either side of the paper will never separate or overlap."(Quoted from the "Dictionary of Imaginary Places")
8. Lattice fo saxophone quartet
This piece was originally composed in 1988. It then go a chance to be arranged for a saxphone quartet in 1990 when I was asked for a piece by Kinichi Nakamaura, who is a leader of the Harmo Saxophone Quartet. The world premiere of this composition was performed on March 8, 1991 ast ther fourth regular recital of the Harmo Saxophone Quartet given at the Ishibashi Memorial Hall. This collection features a recording of that live performance, since it seemed to me "Technodrome" would be well organized if this piece was positioned as the last track. The performers are: Kinich Nakamura(ss), Akemi Endo(sa), Shinichi Iwamoto(ts) and Katsuki Tochio(bs). The performace they gave that day, and reproduced here, was among those chosen for the "Best Concert of 1991" by the magazine "Ongaku No Tomo." The following is an excerpt from the concert program I wrote back then.
The Story Behind "Lattice"
When I first wrote "Lattice," it was originally intended as music for piano and percussion. Although the world premiere of this piece was performed in 1988 by Yasunori Yamguchi (percussion), Satsuki Shibano (piano) and Motohiko Hamase (bass), the live recording has not been included in any of my own solo album yet. This is the very first piece where I consciously tried to give it the idea of polytonality. A short phrase is repeated while the rhythm is kept homegeized, and the phrase goes into a subtle transformation; the flatted ninth has a percussive effect. I came to call this piece "Lattice", because the music has a visual image of some semi-transparent plates with a checked pattern which are overlapped first in the same position and then gradually shifted. For today's performance, I have re-arranded this piece, for a saxphone quartet, but what I did was only to write a score but the way of expression, dynamics, and the tonal quality are not directed at all. So the interpretation of this piece in the live performance is credited entirely to the Harmo Saxophone Quartet.

Performances of the Harmo Saxophone Quartet can be heard on the collection, "The Days of Quartet". (Orange Note Production. CD ON2003. Fax inquiries to 045-562-8158)