Jaap Blonk

Asemic Dialogues – Jaap Blonk and Tomomi Adachi

Jaap Blonk is a sound poet that is a virtuoso in his art. He uses vocal sound production that scoops the whole range of what is possible to transcribe in international phonetic alphabet. This coming Monday he teams up with Tomomi Adachi in Berlin to do a public recording session.

For years now Jaap Blonk (Netherlands) is one of the head howlers of the genre called sound poetry, performing around the globe. He mastered early works of nonsemantic poetry in exercising them intensively. That according to himself started out as a playful engagement with Dada and Kurt Schwitters “Ursonate”. Unlinke the original by Schwitters or the more abrasive version by concrete poet Christian Bök, who is greatly admired by Jaap, his “Ursonate” is one of the smoothest that came to my ear. His newer interpretation from 2003 is lighthearted, cheerful even and at some point, funny.

Something I don’t usually associate with Dada and the Ursonate. The provocation of the movement lies in the fact that by abolishing a meaningful frame they reinstituted the exact system they wanted to attack, a system of fixed norms and ideals, to show how obsolete it was. When asking Jaap about any political message of his doing as an artist though, he says that he does not intend to give an explicit political message. His whole work is an implicit political message, he points out. Also, when he travelled with CROWD on the OMNIBUS tour last year crossing Europe from Helsinki to Cyprus, he didn’t make any political statements. Instead he preferred to confer his message by sound and craftsmanship in his playing with language. “The reception is also dependent on the context you are invited into”, Jaap said.

It’s the reader who fills up the ellipsis Jaap consciously sets in his work. And that is the turning point where it could be a more contemporary version of the Ursonate than one might think, more than a mere interpretation of a classical work of sound poetry. Jaaps performances are riddles for the listener. A nonsemantic practice that disables established meaning to be put together anew during the performance: from formal to formative. It becomes a more creational act, less than a provocative one. The listener needs to fill in and thus it becomes an inspirational act. Or in Jaap’s words: “good sound poetry is very direct communication without the obstacles of words”.

Duet with Tomomi Adachi

Jaap names a lot of traditions and genres he draws from. Next to contemporary composition and mathematics, crossing sound poetry and free jazz is something that he repeatedly comes back to and continues to be an source for his artist vigor, And that is where his partner in crime Tomomi Adachi (Japan/Germany) is not very far away from Jaap – crossing borders between genres, being somewhere between performer and composer who engages in sound poetry and not-so-easy-to-categorize sound production. In fact, together they have appeared on stage several times before, in 2004 in Tokyo and some other occasions.

“It is easy to communicate with Tomomi on stage”, says Jaap, “it is very natural.” An interpreter of Schwitters Ursonate himself, Tomomi’s repertoire has a broad range. From sound poetry and composing music to performances, which he designs his own instruments for. Amongst his inventions is a shirt with infrared sensors that tracks Tomomi’s movements to build a unique soundscape together with Tomomi’s voice. This is one of his self-made physical interfaces and instruments alongside pieces that incorporate brainwave, artificial satellite, twitter texts and even paranormal phenomena.

When these two come together, it is an interesting mix of two virtuoses that push boundaries and break free to an intensity that needs to find its equal. We are proud to announce that one of our partners, Lettrétage, will host this two of a kind at their venue for the event “Asemic dialogues” in Berlin on 31st July 2017. This rare performance of the two in dialogue will be recorded for a CD, which is to be the 25th title on Jaap Blonk’s “Kontrans” label.

Jaap Blonk is a self-taught composer, performer and poet. He discovered his potential as a vocal performer in the 1970s, at first in reciting poetry and later on in improvisations and his own compositions. From around the year 2000 on Blonk started work with electronics, at first using samples of his own voice, then extending the field to include pure sound synthesis as well.

Besides working as a soloist, he collaborated with many musicians and ensembles in the field of contemporary and improvised music, like Maja Ratkje, Mats Gustafsson, Joan La Barbara, The Ex, the Netherlands Wind Ensemble and the Ebony Band. He premiered several compositions by the German composer Carola Bauckholt, including a piece for voice and orchestra. A solo voice piece was commissioned by the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2002. On several occasions he collaborated with visual computer artist Golan Levin. Blonk’s work for radio and television includes several commissioned radio plays. He also makes larger-scale drawings of his scores, which are being exhibited. He has his own record label, Kontrans, featuring a total of 22 available releases so far. Other Blonk recordings appeared on Staalplaat, Basta, VICTO, Ecstatic Peace, My Dance The Skull, Monotype, Plant Migration Records, Elegua Records and Scumbag Relations.

His book/CD ‘Traces of Speech’ was published in 2012 by Hybriden-Verlag, Berlin. A comprehensive collection of his sound poetry came out as a book with 2 CDs in August, 2013, entitled “KLINKT”.

Adachi Tomomi (family name is ADACHI) is currently living in Berlin and Tokyo. He is a performer, composer, sound poet, installation artist, occasional theater director. He has performed contemporary music: vocal, live-electronics or performance works by John Cage, Fluxus and many more. He has performed with numerous musicians, dancers and film makers including Jaap Blonk, SAKATA Akira, ICHIYANAGI Toshi, OTOMO Yoshihide, ITOH Kim. He has presented his works worldwide at many kinds venues include Tate Modern, IRCAM/Centre Pompidou, Haus der Berliner Festspiele, Akademie der Kuenste Berlin, Waker Art Center, STEIM, Experimental Intermedia, ZKM, The National Museum of Art Osaka, 21th Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa. He stayed in New York 2009-2010 as an Asian Cultural Council grantee. Also he was awarded the DAAD invited composer for Berlin 2012.

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