Augen: Super Ball and Ziggy Atem

When 14 May 2013
7:30PM - 9:00PM
Where Light Industry
155 Freeman Street
Brooklyn, NY 11222
United States
Cost Tickets - $7, available at door. Seating is limited. First-come, first-served. Box office opens at 7pm.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013 at 7:30pm

Presented by C. Spencer Yeh

Light Industry hosts a double bill of VHS tapes from legendary Japanese noise label Augen.

“For a moment in the mid-90s, amongst aficionados of the organized sound (music?) form noise—in particular the ethnographically delineated Japanese Noise—no one knew what was happening. The visceral and chaotic gestures which initially defined the genre, like the use of rock and roll detritus to make a new garbage language, had folded back on themselves. Noise strategy was simultaneously highly exclusive—a modern rendition of the Futurist anthem, hurtling past prevailing notions of taste or musical idiom—and indiscriminately inclusive, because when you start from a supposed nothing, everything is allowed. The appetite of noise was always too big for its own self-digestion, so some of the flock wandered outside of the field to feed on other genres. It became less about what equipment you used, how loud you walked, and more like punk rock: an ideology and attitude. As an invasive growth, it effortlessly tunneled through rock, pop, techno, onwards. A few noisemongers at the time even appointed this particular pollution a new genre—scum—a niche hybrid predicated on the body of larger extant forms.

Noise is not without its own idols. Noise is notorious in its self-documenting and self-publishing, but in the end noise could not escape the vicissitudes of culture and history. The wildest rumors and legends were proven to be true years later (the Hanatarashi destroying a small club with a backhoe, the Merzbow ‘Merz-cedes’ with a CD welded into the stereo) and corroborated via blog posts and YouTube uploads. Yet despite best intentions, the stacking of touchstones always creates forgotten spaces; “you weren’t there” can only go so far without substantial documentary capital, and so in these cracks we find the scum of Super Ball and Ziggy Atem.

With scant exception, both artists’ legacies are primarily (and arguably best) preserved on a pair of tapes released by Japanese VHS label Augen (b. 1994). Augen specialized in these home video releases, and while much of their catalog is worth exploring, the majority of its titles feel supplemental to the respective artists’ recorded works and continued performance practice. In the bizarre parallel universe where outfits such as Caroliner Rainbow and Costes can be considered ‘established,’ it is with these two near-forgotten acts that video actually saved the radio star (ugh).” – CSY

Super Ball
Teenage Superstar on Stage
VHS, 1995, 45 mins

“Legendary highschool girl trio.They can’t play any instrumental and music. Real stupid japanese teenage DADA or GUTAI performance. Thurston Moore selected this video for ’95 best 10 of CROSSBEAT magazine in Japan.” – Augen catalog description

“As much of a ‘buzz band’ as you can have in the Osaka noise scene, Super Ball began after leader Nao attended a live performance of Japanese noise-rock act the Boredoms. Inspired to ‘do something’ despite a lack of perceived experience, she recruited two of her peers, wound up a toy bear as the drummer, and blew through a couple initial band names (including Miss Osaka and Death Fuck). Teenage Superstar on Stage follows Super Ball and their anti-performances over the course of a year and change. The video document serves as both their official debut album, as well as their greatest hits collection. Yamatsuka Eye of the Boredoms had said they gave him more of a shock than hearing Butthole Surfers for the first time. Between that and opening for the Lunachicks, any rocknroll aspirations were more than fulfilled. As Nao had been quoted in the crucial Japanese noise zine Exile Osaka from 1994, ‘I’m not thinking of doing Superball for my whole life and there’s no way that being in a band is going to put groceries on the table.’” – CSY

Ziggy Atem
C.I.A. Dry Ice System: Music of Death
VHS, 1995, 33 mins

“Strange cosmic noise act by an alien from mental hospital. He can speak another planet language.It’s not joke. Nobody believes it but he only belives so…….” – Augen catalog description

“A document in two sections, the first being in the ‘studio,’ eavesdropping on Ziggy’s private speak-n-dance through the prism of primitive video effects. The second finds Atem in the club; outed, Atem is static. He rants, hands mostly folded or at his sides, his backing band equally still as his shadow, while a dancer flamboyantly frames the performers and audience. Not much is known about Atem—there were a couple of cassettes and one CD under the name Satan Alpha Beel Atem (released by Augen-affiliated imprint Horen). Some have tried to tag him with ‘outsider’ status, while others view him as a curiosity in a long line of progressive oddity. All one can do is watch and wonder.” – CSY

C. Spencer Yeh is recognized for his interdisciplinary activities and collaborations as an artist, composer, and improviser, as well as his music project Burning Star Core. Recent recorded works include Ambient (with Robert Piotrowicz), 1975, and Transitions, under the CS Yeh moniker. Yeh also volunteers as a trailer editor and occasional programmer for Spectacle Theater in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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