The Squid's Ear Magazine

Sugimoto, Taku: Guitars (Meenna)

Three concisely plain compositions for guitar, two solo and one trio, are played only with open strings or natural harmonics, where all the tunings are respectively irregular, written by Tokyo-based guitarist and composer Taku Sugimoto and performed and recorded in St. Petersburg, Russia by guitarists Andrey Popovsky, Denis Sorokin and Alexander Markvart.

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product information:

Label: Meenna
Catalog ID: meenna-975
Squidco Product Code: 27928

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Japan
Packaging: Cardstock Sleeve, sealed
Tracks 1 and 2 recorded on Vasilievsky Island, Saint Petersburg, Russia, from February to March, 2018, by Andrey Popovsky.

Track 3 recorded in Kupchino, Saint Petersburg, Russia, on October 14th, 2017, by Sergei Tumanov.


Taku Sugimoto-composer

Andrey Popovskiy-electric guitar, semi acoustic guitar

Denis Sorokin-classical guitar, electric guitar

Alexander Markvart-acoustic guitar

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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Taku Sugimoto is a Tokyo-based guitarist and composer. Improvisation is one aspect of his work, but currently his main activities are composing and performing composed pieces (including those of other composers). He continues his global and concentrated interaction with composers from around the world, particularly those closely connected with Wandelweiser. Ftarri had previously released two albums under Sugimoto's name alone-Septet (2015) and Quintets: Berlin, San Diego (2017). On both CDs, his compositions are performed by other musicians (on Septet, Sugimoto also participates in the performance).

The CD Guitars, also released under Sugimoto's name, is comprised of three pieces that he wrote for that instrument. The first and third are guitar solos around 20 minutes long; the second is a guitar trio of about 10 minutes. The performers are three guitarists from Russia, and the pieces were recorded in St. Petersburg in 2017 and 2018. The solo compositions were performed by Andrey Popovsky (track 1) and Denis Sorokin (track 3); and the trio was performed by these two plus Alexander Markvart. All the performances are extremely simple and concise, but convey a feeling of complexity and richness. Abounding in an incomparable feeling of depth within their simplicity and candor, these are truly Sugimoto-like works."-Meena

A Brief Note on the Compositions by Taku Sugimoto

"All the tones of these 3 compositions for guitar(s) are played only with open strings ["solo for guitar 2" and "trio (for three guitars)"] or natural harmonics ("solo for guitar 1"), and all the tunings are respectively irregular.

The score of "solo for guitar 1" (2014-2015) shows 17 fragments or sections consisting of one or two melodies or bars. These fragments are played in any order and the number of repetitions of each melody or bar would be up to the performer: one person can play only one fragment throughout the performance. This composition has been played or recorded by Cristián Alvear, Denis Sorokin, and myself, and the interpretations are all quite different from one another. Denis's interpretation is wild and raw, and nevertheless very fascinating to me.

The tuning required for playing "solo for guitar 2" (2016) is so anomalous that it is impossible to play with a normally-tuned guitar. The interval between the 6th and 1st strings is a perfect fifth (G and D) and the other 4 strings are tuned to all different minor or major thirds (Bb or B): 1, 7/6, 6/5, 5/4, 9/7, 3/2.* The string used for the 6th string is the one which is normally used for the 3rd string. I chose a rather high register, because it is easier for me to tune the strings to pure intervals. While it is hard or troublesome to tune the strings for the composition, it is not difficult to play it. However, the performer's concentration is required. Andrey Popovsky's interpretation is plain, serene, and slow, which is surely what I intended.

"trio (for three guitars)" (2016) was composed for the concert that Tetuzi Akiyama, Cristián Alvear, and myself were to have. I never thought of writing a composition which needs anomalous tuning like "solo for guitar 2," since we had to play 2 or 3 other compositions besides mine. Then I got an idea that "it must be interesting to write a composition which is very simple to play but sounds similar to a solo piece like 'solo for guitar 2,' because there are three of us." Every guitarist plays only the 5th, 4th, and 3rd open strings, but each guitar is tuned differently, though all the 5th strings are tuned to A (see the score). I asked Denis if it would be possible to record the composition with electric, acoustic, and classical guitars, the same combination I did with Tetuzi and Cristián, or with three different types of guitars. The recording played by Denis, Andrey, and Sasha (Alexander Markvart) reminds me of something like imaginary folk music.

*All the tones of the recordings of "solo for guitar 2" and "trio" are almost exactly a semitone lower than written in the score, while the intervals between tones are alright. I thought I had suggested to Denis that he make the tuning a semitone lower to solve some practical matters, but Denis said that wasn't the case. What happened?"

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Artist Biographies

"Taku Sugimoto is a Japanese guitarist.

He initially gained attention in the late 1990s for his restrained, melodic playing, unusual in the world of free improvisation. Critic Bruce Russell describes this era of Sugimoto's music by writing: "Sugimoto is perhaps the pre-eminent stylist on the guitar ... He brings a golden glow to every session he partakes in, having abandoned amped up noise in favour of a much more introspective and calligraphic style of play."

Around 2002 his music became increasingly abstract, all but eliminating melody and featuring extended periods of silence.

He has collaborated with other Japanese musicians involved in the Onkyo movement, such as Sachiko M, Toshimaru Nakamura and Otomo Yoshihide. He has also collaborated with musicians from European free improvisation scenes, notably trombonist Radu Malfatti and guitarist Keith Rowe."

-Wikipedia (

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"Andrey Popovskiy is one of the prominent figures in Russian contemporary improvised music scene. After numerous projects of the last ten years where he experimented with sounds of electric and acoustic guitars, composed for chamber ensembles and collaborated with all famous improvisers in St. Petersburg, Andrey concentrated on a quiet and miniature sound working with mini-amplifiers, e-bows, different surfaces and objects. The sound which demands active listening, everyday objects of our life (for example, baking forms for cookies or electric toothbrushes), silence and interaction with silence are the main trends of current improvised music scene which Popovskiy studies with great focus on detail and to the fullest extent. Besides musical activities Andrey is an art director of Experimental Sound Gallery and writes about music."

-Sound Art Gallery (

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"Denis Sorokin is an musician, improviser and artist from Saint-Petersburg. He was educated as classical and jazz guitarist. Studied modern painting with Eugene Orlov. As guitarist he performs a new academic music, pieces of Michael Pisaro and another composers from Wandelweiser, performs his own transcriptions for guitar of compositions of John Cage, Morton Feldman, Galina Ustvolskaya and another composers. As improviser he plays an experimental electronic music using no-input effects, prepared guitar and objects and also free improv using a cornet. Records released on lables Intonema (Russia), Poverty Electronics (USA), pan y rosas discos (USA), Linear Obsessional (UK), b-boim (Austria), etc. As an artist he works in abstract painting, drawing, photo, installation and performance. Also makes an artwork for covers of musical albums as such as british record lable Anoter Timbre, wich releases a new academic and improvised music. Participated in festivals of new music such as Sound Ways, Fin de siecle, Open Look, APosotion, Museum's Night, Teni Zvuka and others. Among the art projects - audiovisual installations and performances for loft Rizzordi, Museum of Nonconformist Art, New Alexandrinsky Theatre, Manifesta 10, Experimental Sound Gallery."

-Denis Sorokin Website (

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"Alexander Markvart is an avant-garde musician, member of theater projects and organizer of events and festivals. Founder of such polystylistic musical formations as Studio of Unconscious Music (SUM) and Siberian Improvisation Company (SIC)." (

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Track Listing:

1. Solo For Guitar 2 19:20

2. Trio (For Three Guitars) 10:20

3. Solo For Guitar 1 21:20

Related Categories of Interest:

Compositional Forms
Ambient & Minimal Music
Guitarists, &c.
Solo Artist Recordings
Trio Recordings
New in Compositional Music

Search for other titles on the label:

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