Improvised Music from Japan

Novo Tono

The amazing super-group formed in 1994 by six musicians: the singer Phew, who since her debut as a member of the punk band Aunt Sally 20 years ago has been a legendary figure of the Japanese underground scene; Seiichi Yamamoto (guitar, vocal), of Boredoms and Omoide Hatoba; Yoshihide Otomo (turntables, guitar) and Masahiro Uemura (drums), both of Ground Zero; Naoko Eto (keyboards), active in a wide range of musical areas, from pop to experimental classical music; and Yusuke Nishimura (bass), who was a leading figure of the Tokyo punk scene as a member of bands such as Stalin and Machizo Machida's group. In 1996, Novo Tono released its first album, the indescribably strange pop work Panorama Paradise. They are now preparing to start work on their second album.

Started out as a member of the legendary punk band Aunt Sally. In 1980 she collaborated with Ryuichi Sakamoto on the single Shukyoku. In '81 she and the members of Can made the album Phew. After taking some time off, Phew made a recording with former members of DAF and Neubauten. She subsequently released two albums with Anton Fier, Bill Laswell and others. Recently she is active in a wide range of projects, including Novo Tono, Phew Unit, a duo with Seiichi Yamamoto, and Big Picture.

Seiichi Yamamoto
Born in 1958. In April of 1979 Yamamoto discovered punk and new wave music. In September '86, he joined the group Boredoms, and in October of '87 he formed Omoide Hatoba. Along with Eye Yamataka, he is a leader of the Kansai alternative rock scene. He also leads numerous bands, including Rashimban and Akabushi. Moreover, as the owner of the Osaka rock club Bears, he serves as the "godfather" of the Kansai underground scene.

Masahiro Uemura
Born in Tokyo in 1967. In 1988, Uemura was a member of Japanese folk music singer Takio Ito's group. In '90, he played in Kiyohiko Semba's group Haniwa All Stars. He has also played traditional music: in '91 he performed at the Kabuki-za theater as a member of a Semba-school group. Subsequently, he played with numerous bands and projects, including Ground Zero, John Zorn's Cobra, Shibusashirazu Orchestra, and Ned Rothenberg Double Band Tokyo Version. He has also participated in many overseas tours, performing at the Moers New Jazz Festival in Germany, the Taktlos Music Festival in Switzerland, and so on. In around '92 he started his own band, P.O.N. This band, which presented music stressing composition, released its first album P.O.N. in 1995. After P.O.N. disbanded in '99, Uemura formed the Masahiro Uemura New Unit.

Naoko Eto
Eto began studying piano when she was six, and at 12 she became a student of composer Shinichiro Watanabe. She graduated from Musashino Music University, where she majored in piano. As a student she played with bands, and after graduating took part in live performances and recordings of Japanese pop music. She has also been involved in creating music for numerous TV and computer software projects. In 1990 she released a solo album on the Toshiba EMI label. In addition to her work as a member of such groups as UBiK (Na02) and Novo Tono, Eto is active as a performer of experimental classical music. Her amazing performance on internal piano strings can be heard on Yoshihide Otomo's experimental music CD Cathode (on the Tzadik label).

Yusuke Nishimura
Born in Tokyo in 1963. Prior to joining Novo Tono, Nishimura had been a member of several well known punk bands, including Stalin, Machizo Machida + Kitazawagumi, WRU, and Phew Band. His other activities include sessions with Samm Bennett. Nishimura is known as a "musician's musician."

Last updated: October 4, 1999

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