The Squid's Ear Magazine

VocColours / Yoichiro Kita: Live in Japan (Creative Sources)

A strange album of vocal improvisation from the the VocCoulours quartet of Brigitte Kuepper, Gala Gabriele Hummel, Norbert Zajac, and Iouri Grankin, performing live with Koichi Makigami on (voice & theremin), Yoichiro Kita (trumpet & laptop), Keiko Komori (bass clarinet), and Morgan Fisher (keyboards & toys); a truly unique album of startling utterance, texture, and environment.

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product information:

UPC: 5609063406238

Label: Creative Sources
Catalog ID: cs623
Squidco Product Code: 28208

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2019
Country: Portugal
Packaging: Cardboard Gatefold
Recorded live at Sengawa Theater, in Tokyo, Japan, on September 16th, 2017.


Brigitte Kuepper-voice

Gala Gabriele Hummel-voice

Norbert Zajac-voice

Iouri Grankin-voice

Yoichiro Kita-trumpet, laptop

Keiko Komori-bass clarinet

Koichi Makigami-voice, theremin

Morgan Fisher-keyboards, toys

Click an artist name above to see in-stock items for that artist.

Sample The Album:

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"Continuing the improvising vocal theme, now with a four-voice ensemble (instead of a mere two!), I want to note the latest from VocColours, Live in Japan (recorded in Tokyo in September 2017). I didn't take note of VocColours myself until their previous album, Ganglia (recorded in April 2016 in Köln & mentioned here in the extended, April 2019 discussion of Braxton's GTM Syntax choral collection) - also on Creative Sources, which continues to feature so many vocal albums... - there with a pianist as fifth member, but they have at least three prior albums (two on Leo) with different guests. (Perhaps I should also note that this is an older performance, relatively speaking, and that their website has vanished....)

Four voices provide various opportunities to move between foreground & background, i.e. to vary the texture around vocalizations, and of course simultaneously to vary timbre, attack, etc. The result is often a rather mysterious atmosphere of shifting textures, made only more mysterious by the participation of Yoichiro Kita (who is otherwise unknown to me) on trumpet & laptop on Live in Japan: Sometimes the trumpet is very noticeable as a trumpet, sometimes it fades into a general vocal murmuring or even an evocation of crickets, and sometimes the electronic contribution is critical to the texture by supplying very high or low (or even percussive?) pitches.... The result is even more mysterious as to who is doing what, including some (natural) indeterminacy between voice & horn, sometimes quiet & sometimes raucous, as momentum comes & goes, seemingly moving across scenes....

Indeed, Live in Japan also seems to emphasize a sense of staging - not so unlike Speak Easy @Konfrontationen, as just discussed - with the different vocal personalities surely being more apparent (i.e. differentiable) in person. And the quintet with trumpet & electronics is also far more flexible, timbre- & intonation-wise than their prior, piano-supplemented albums, so this is the more intriguing VocColours release for me. (It's perhaps over-weird too, but why not?)

After the relatively lengthy first track, then, three more musicians join the quintet, in what becomes a rather large affair for the shorter second track, including a dramatic Japanese vocal intervention, amid a more lyrical-melancholy (yet noisy) orientation. It's not that identifying who is doing what, at least vocally, becomes any easier, but the ensemble does come to sound a little more "traditional" in its interaction, i.e. less radical, simply on account of its size & volume (or so I suppose).

In any case, Live in Japan invents new textures as it goes, including via sometimes subtle electronics, and so is very worth hearing for its development of choral (I guess?) improvisation. (The basic sound of a crowd is also invoked at times, and that seems to be an increasingly appropriate image in our times.) Actually, few contemporary albums present anything like this degree of textural novelty. (And the potential for extended collective vocal improvisation, more generally, likewise seems only to have begun to be realized....)"-Todd McComb, Jazz Thoughts

Get additional information at Todd McComb's Jazz Thoughts

Artist Biographies

Brigitte Küpper is a Jazz singer, known for the groups Frakture Big Band, Brigitte Küpper/Youri Grankin/Georg Frangenberg/Martin Hauf, VocColours, and work with Ray Dickaty.

-Squidco 9/20/2023

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Gala Gabriele Hummel is a drummer, word acrobat, vocalist and performing artist, playing with words, sounds, rhythm and with the audience. She is known for the groups Filia Irata & VocColours.

-Gala Gabriele Hummel Website (

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Norbert Zajac is a free improvising vocalist, known for the groups VocColours and zvuKlang.

-Squidco 9/20/2023

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Vocalist Iouri Grankin is a Ukranian jazz vocalist, born in 1959 and who graduated from Kharkov University, Department of Mechanics and Mathematics, in 1976. He is best known for the group VocColours.

-Squidco 9/20/2023

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"Yoichiro KITA on trumpet; Lives and works in Tokyo / Japan. He experiments with electronic sounds containing samples of the sounds of the world around us, sounds of nature and musical instruments and rhythms. He works with the DJ computer software program "Ninja Jockey" and plays the trumpet, including electronic alienations, the piccolo trumpet and the trombone. In Europe he has become well-known for his performances with the legendary SHIBUSA SHIRAZU ORCHESTRA from Tokyo and for his work with the Japanese dancer Yukino Nono within the group KO-ON-TEN."

-Yoichiro Kita YouTube Channel (

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Keiko Komori: "I play the clarinet and saxophone in Tokyo. Member of KOENJI HYAKKEI and more."

-Keiko Komori Facebook Page (

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"Koichi Makigami is leader, vocalist, thereminist, cornet and Shakuhachi player for rock band HIKASHU, known for his virtuosic vocal range and expression as well as his unique incorporation of elements of theatre, performance, and entertainment, all of which make this Japanese band so widely acclaimed both critically and popularly. He is also active as voice improvisation artist and solo performer. In addition to recordings with HIKASHU, Makigami released a solo album in 1992 of re-worked, reinterpreted old Japanese popular songs, produced by John Zorn. Together with this recorded work, he has conducted a series of concerts under this project.

From 1993, Makigami has been acting as organizer and prompter for the monthly Tokyo session of John Zorn's game piece COBRA.

He formed Japan Tuva Khoomei Association in 1998. invited many Tuvan singers. Huun Huur Tu, Kongar-ool Ondar, Mongun-ool Ondar, NadezhdaKuular, Stanislav iliri, Andrei Mongush, Tyva Kyzy and more.

Makigami has worked and collaborated with a great many artists and musicians in a wide variety of areas and styles, such as Takahashi Yuji, John Zorn, Meredith Monk, David Moss, Ikue Mori, Phil Minton, Lauren Newton, Jaap Blonk, Carl Stone, Jon Rose, Guy Klucevsek, Derek Bailey, John Talor, Jim O'Rouke, Thomas Stronen and more.

Ongoing projects include his aforementioned unique avant-pop based on old popular Japanese music, performance using interactive computer technology, voice improvisation, and various work as organiser and producer."

-Koichi Makigami Website (

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"Stephen Morgan Fisher (born 1 January 1950 in Mayfair, London) is an English keyboard player and composer, and is most known as a member of Mott the Hoople in the early 1970s. However, his career has covered a wide range of musical activities, and he is still active in the music industry. In recent years he has expanded into photography.

From 1966 to 1970, Fisher played the organ with the soul/pop band, The Soul Survivors, who in 1967 renamed themselves Love Affair. They had a number one hit single in 1968 with "Everlasting Love", while Fisher was taking a break from the band to complete his final year at Hendon County Grammar school. Between 1972 and 1973 he formed the progressive rock band called Morgan, with singer Tim Staffell (the lead singer of the band Smile, who later became Queen).

From 1973 to 1976, after a brief liaison with Third Ear Band, he joined British rock band Mott the Hoople. Meanwhile, Fisher contributed keyboards to John Fiddler's Medicine Head, and when Mott folded, Fisher invited Fiddler to join the remaining members of Mott in what would become British Lions. From 1977 to 1979 the Lions recorded two albums, and three singles: Kim Fowley's "International Heroes", Garland Jeffries' "Wild in the Streets", and Fiddler's own "One More Chance to Run". In 1980, Fisher conceived and produced the unique Miniatures - a sequence of fifty-one tiny masterpieces album (51 one-minute tracks by Robert Fripp, Gavin Bryars, Michael Nyman, The Pretenders, XTC, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Robert Wyatt, Ivor Cutler, The Damned etc.). A sequel was released in 2000. In addition he played with Queen on their 1982 tour of Europe, and Freddie Mercury can be seen humorously introducing him to the audience just before the band's performance of "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", on the band's Queen on Fire - Live at the Bowl album.

In 1985, Fisher moved to Japan, and started to make ambient and improvised music. He became a TV commercial music songwriter, including songs written or arranged for Cat Power, Karin Krog, José Feliciano, Zap Mama and Swing Out Sister. Japanese artists he has worked with include Yoko Ono, Dip in the Pool, The Boom, Heat Wave, Shoukichi Kina, Haruomi Hosono and Kokoo. He also scored the Japanese anime/live-action hybrid film, Twilight of the Cockroaches (1987) and the documentary, A Zen Life: D.T. Suzuki (2006).

Starting in November 2003 Morgan performed 100 monthly solo improvisation concerts at the cutting-edge arts/music club Superdeluxe in Roppongi, Tokyo. He called this concert series Morgan's Organ, and has started to release live recordings of the series as downloads. The series ended in March 2013 and has been continued as Morgan's Organ At Home at his personal studio in Tokyo since June 2013.

In 2005, he collaborated with German musician Hans-Joachim Roedelius (of Cluster and Harmonia) on the ambient album Neverless (on the Klanggalerie label)."

-Wikipedia (

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Track Listing:

1. Jungust 38:55

2. Yurei No Warutsu 10:53

Related Categories of Interest:

Creative Sources
Improvised Music
Free Improvisation
Electro-Acoustic Improv
Unusual Vocal Forms
Octet Recordings

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