MR MUTT Records

Skip navigation.


Shrine was recorded live at Suwa Shrine, Nishi-Nippori, Tokyo, October 13, 2002
Nest was recorded live at On Air Nest, Shibuya, Tokyo, November 10, 2002

Minamo is: Keiichi Sugimoto, Yuichiro Iwashita, Namiko Sasamoto and Tetsuro Yasunaga


One of the first new releases I turned to was Shrine/Nest by Minamo, out on Mr. Mutt Records as the latest instalment in their CDR Live Series (MLive03). Minamo was first formed in 1999 as a collaboration between Keiichi Sugimoto and Tetsuro Yasunaga. Two years later they were joined by Yuichiro Iwashita (guitar) and Namiko Sasamoto, and since then have gone on to release a handful of CDs and CDRs on labels like Apestaartje, 360 Records, Cubic Music and Quakebasket. This new disc presents two concerts recorded late in 2002, Tokyo. Combining electronics with guitar, piano, perhaps even other instruments (none are listed, but a few others could be suspected), Minamo have created two long, beautiful pieces of quiet minimalism, progressing slowly, carefully, every sound or combination of sounds as confident as the last. My impressions, growing ever more involved and multifaceted, could only be articulated indirectly, even as I listened for a second, third and fourth time; and even now, closing in on September, as these words find their way out of me and onto these pages. — Richard di Santo, Incursion

Having been mildly disappointed by the last Minamo that came my way, it's deeply gratifying to report that this outing, regrouping two performances by the Japanese quartet in October and November 2002 (live, in conformity with the ethos of the Mr Mutt label, of which more later) is absolutely enchanting. "Shrine" was recorded in the Suwa shrine, Nishi-Nippori (Tokyo) and it's clear that guitarists Keichi Sugimoto and Yuichiro Iwashita in particular were breathing the same quiet holy air that made "Opposite", the magnificent HatNoir outing by another Sugimoto – Taku, so special several years back. Within minutes keyboard player Namiko Sasamoto has picked up on the vibe, and the tiny, exquisite flurries of notes he inserts to embellish the glowing F# major tonality are picked up by computer whiz Tetsuro Yasanuga and transformed into something rich and strange. By the eleven-minute mark the music has modulated to C#. It's perhaps a question for faculty types to ponder, but I think we can actually speak of modulation for once, with the caveat that we're no longer dealing with functional tonality in the nineteenth century sense of the word, i.e. a titanic Beethovenian struggle on the structural level which attributes patently heroic characteristics to various keys and lets them battle it out in the macro-form, but rather a sense of place, a colour even, for the music to inhabit for as long as it feels necessary. It's rare in these troubled times, especially in the world of Japanese improvised music that is subject to such scrutiny by the press, to come across something as poised, as settled as this. "Nest" inhabits the same territory, but feels somehow slightly more active; Sasamoto's gently repetitive piano loops seem to dominate somewhat, imposing a sense of pulse (admittedly nebulous) that "Shrine" managed to avoid. Here one senses the real danger of the live event: seeing how easy it is these days to load a recording of the gig into the machine and edit out the rough spots, it's admirable that Rossano Polidoro and Emiliano Romanelli (aka Tu m') have chosen to adopt a warts'n'all live policy for their Mr Mutt label. — Dan Warburton,

One writer referred to this Japanese quartet's music as "serenity improv". The band would do well to use this description as the heading on their resumé, because it fits them like a glove. Keiichi Sugimoto (guitar and computer), Yuichiro Iwashita (guitar), Namiko Sasamoto (keyboards and sax – but jazzophobes don't flee just yet) and Tetsuro Yasunaga (computers and electronics) build mostly long, quietly rippling electro-acoustic soundscapes, meandering and unobtrusive, but anything but unengaging. Beautiful, their very accurately titled 2003 album on Apestaartje, was one of the most gorgeous sound environments ever, landing it straight in this reviewer's personal top 5 of the year. When listened to in the right state of mind, their serenely wandering songs are achingly beautiful. This official 2 track (67 minutes) CD-R was also released last year in a limited run of 200 hand-numbered copies on the label of the exciting Italian electronica duo Tu m' (best band name in a long while, that!). Other projects in the CD-R live series include big-shot names like Scanner, TV Pow and Sogar. Shrine and Nest were recorded in Tokyo in October-November of 2002. Musically, this is pretty close to Beautiful: calm, slowly unfolding electronics, treated acoustic instruments and piercing sound waves (piercing in the gentlest way possible, your eardrums are safe here!) combine with improvised acoustic guitars, to form what could be likened to Taku Sugimoto jamming with Fennesz at his gentlest. If you have a number of CD releases from labels such as 12k or Plop you can be certain that this will be right up your alley. Some piano-like sounds can be heard at the beginning of the fabulous second piece. Other than that there are few surprises, but in this case that's a good thing. And let me allay the fears of neophytes with a dislike for music that doesn't seem to do anything if not listened to on headphones without stirring: this music covers more territory than you expect. Minamo is not one of those bands I want to see evolving, expanding their sound, taking new roads… I'll be perfectly happy if they just keep revisiting their techniques on the sidelines, ignoring any notion of time or goal and persevering without any grand statement or empty gesture. I can't see myself growing tired of dipping into their sound world. Mr. Mutt will be releasing the next Donna Summer album in 2004 as well as a compilation including Minamo, Tu m', Sogar, and the always fantastic Ekkehard Ehlers. Meanwhile this nicely done CD-R (colour printed sleeve in plastic bag) is still available from Tu m' and selected distributors. Let's pray that the fad for ultra limited hand-numbered releases such as this will soon make way for a supply-by-demand system; this stuff is just too good to keep it a secret. — David Bauwens,

…la musica è una sola, ed è unica, quella dei Minamo. Chitarre, sax, elettroniche, computer, tastiere di basso cabotaggio, questi sono gli ingredienti utilizzati per creare una musica (e)statica che conquista e affascina ascolto dopo ascolto. Le atmosfere sospese su cui si sciolgono gli arpeggi della chitarra, i disturbi e gli accidenti elettronici che però non recitano mai il ruolo del muro impenetrabile, ma si infiltrano nel resto, penetrano l'altra materia in un flusso continuo, che non sai da dove proviene ne dove sta andando, l'idea di eternità che si srotola davanti ai tuoi occhi, che si fa suono, ricerca di una dimensione intima in quella cha pare una strada cosmica, un esplosione di luce che abbaglia, ti acceca, ti precipita nel buio… cos'è la luce… cos'è il buio… elementi di uno stesso unico, fatti della stessa materia fluida e friabile, ma pure fibrosa, tessuta in intrecci così fitti da non lasciar filtrare nessun chiarore, se non in trasparenza, kaleidoscopici giochi di forme che cambiano continuamente, che svaniscono, che tornano, seguendo leggi ignote, spingendosi ai confini del sapere, forzando scrigni e frontiere, lottando contro il bisogno di pace, di silenzio, come acqua che scorre, che cade, che scivola, che si volatizza, che evapora, che si scinde in tante gocce, in tante molecole, in tanti atomi, ma tu non li vedi, perché vedi solo il fiume, il lago, il mare, l'oceano, l'azzurro cha all'orizzonte si confonde con il cielo… un nugolo d'emozioni a ruota libera… beautiful. — Etero Genio,


In 1999, the electro-acoustic group Minamo was formed by Keiichi Sugimoto and Tetsuro Yasunaga. In 2000, Minamo's self-released CD-R Wakka was reissued by the New York label Quakebasket. this was selected Matmos' one of best sounds in 2001 on Wire magazine. In 2001, made first appearance in New York. Yuiichiro Iwashita (guitar) and Namiko Sasamoto (sax, organ) has joined. In 2002, first CD album .Kgs has released by the Tokyo label 360 Records. made first appearance in Chicago. “ Superb Japanese experimental group ” (Chicago Readers). Having performed as the opening act for several groups, including; Microstoria, Simon Fisher Turner, Vert, Oren Ambarchi, Yoshihide Otomo, On Filmore, Tim Barnes, I-Sound, Ikue Mori, Josh Abrams, Michael Schumacher, Incapacitants, Aki Onda, Masakatsu Takagi, Ogurusu Norihide, Michael Prime, Jonathan Coleclough, Oblaat, HIM, BusRatch, Def Harmonics, Aero and more.