/ I think I'm turning Japanese /
Charleston SC Newspaper - Arts Entertainment Weekly
I Think I'm Turning Japanese BY: ShawntÃ© Salabert The Sawaguzo Festival takes a unique approach to Japanese arts
Charleston has its fair selection of haunted happenings this week, but for a truly original treat, the inventive forces at Redux Contemporary Arts Center (and friends from Chord & Pedal) have created the Sawaguzo Festival, a week-long celebration of Japanese joie de vivre. And artsy stuff, too. So grab a Sapporo and dive right in ...
It's a Japanese Invasion via Brooklyn. New York visual artists Miwa Koizumi and Aya Kakeda join a relatively recent Gotham transplant -- our own sorely missed Fumiha Tanaka -- for the festival's opening reception at Redux. All three artists employ a multitude of media in their off-kilter fairy tale artwork, and the trio's pieces will no doubt complement each other throughout the gallery's walls. Among her extensive list of experimental art forms, Koizumi lists installation, food, flying, photograph, and liquid art -- and a jog around her fascinating website confirms that this artist doesn't limit herself much at all.
Holding court in the painting, illustration, and craft corner are Tanaka and Kakeda, who've affectionately dubbed their joint art project "Pao Pao." Kakeda's often-published illustrations are flush with rounded puppies, monsters, and egg-men, all slightly reminiscent of Gary Baseman's wide-eyed bunny-people. Tanaka straddles the line between storybook and street art with her own multi-media pieces, and she's always busy pressing political buttons or knitting purses on the side. Joining the party are New York's Shellshag and Maniquinn's Yukari Yucca. (Sawaguzo Festival Opening Reception, Thurs. Oct. 27, 6 p.m., Free)
Completing the trifecta of arts is some of the most inventive and outrageous music Japan is kicking out. On Friday, Cumberland's hosts their "Halloween Madness" evening with the avant-garde, Brooklyn-based punk rock duo Shellshag, local act Maniquinn, and Tokyo's garage-rocky DMBQ. The quartet first formed in 1988 in Sapporo and relocated to Tokyo in '90. They released their first album in 1995. Singer-guitarist Shinji Masuko, guitarist Toru Matsui, drummer China, and bassist Ryuichi Watanabe describe their aggressive rock sound as a combination of "elements of noise, garage, improvisation, collaborating to create sounds of noisy up-tempo songs with a '70's garage-rock influence ... loud, raucous, hedonistic and active listening not for the timid."
DMBQ embarked on a U.S. tour earlier this month behind their latest album, The Essential Sounds from the Far East (Estrus). The last time these eclectic noisemakers came to Charleston, they picked up quite a sweaty following after their Redux show.
Shellshag -- featuring guitarist Shell and percussionist Shag -- call themselves a "spastic, minimal, two-piece, rock band spewing the sound and tradition of old punk with the feeling and noise of no wave; their music and live shows are very unpredictable." (Halloween Madness at Cumberland's, Fri. Oct. 28, 9 p.m., $7)
It's Halloween-time, and it's an arts festival, so a night of Japanese horror flicks is an easy starter for Japanese culture virgins. Considering the success of American knock offs The Ring and The Grudge, and the fact that this is a free event (one of several during the Sawaguzo Festival), Redux will most likely pull in a good-sized crowd to squirm and giggle uncomfortably through two nights of film screenings in their cozy space. Bring money for snacks, a pillow to sit on, and your favorite blankie to cuddle. (Japanese Horror Film Fest, Mon. Oct. 31 & Tues. Nov. 1, 7 p.m., Free)
Friday, Nov. 4 finds local art-punk outfit Genrevolta sharing the stage with Tokyo-based Green Milk from Planet Orange. The Japan outfit's new wave/progressive rock sound and apparent penchant for theatrics promises an electric night. They're back on tour in support of a new album titled City Calls Revolution (released on "the best experimental label" Beta-lactam Ring Records). The band describes the full-length album -- a four-song journey featuring a 38-minute opus titled "A Day in the Planet Orange" -- as "an eruption of Vesuvian intensity, thick with Magma ... scorching beast and building in its glowering wake ... the stop/start arrangements continue to smell of kif-soaked Moroccan desert nights, even while the drums fire like Maschinenpistolen into the gathering clouds." Sharing billing with the Cumberland's show as The Rowdiest Event of the Festival, this band match-up will ensure that there are a bunch of hungover, sore people the next day. (Green Milk from Planet Orange w/ Genrevolta, Fri. Nov. 4, 9 p.m. $7)