Lethe / Catastrophe Point #5 ( CD int034 USA )
sound materials recorded at No 20 warehouse [ disused grain warehouse in front of Nagoya sea port ] at 03.oct.11th - 13th.

Limited edition CD comes in full-color digipack designed by Mike Shiflet.


Catastrophe Point #5 is the latest in Nagoya-based artist Kuwayama Kiyoharufs signature series of compositions that explore the charged, mysterious atmosphere of disused industrial sites. Once inspired by a space | in this case an abandoned warehouse by a pier in Nagoya, Japan | Lethe searches for objects in situ and uses them to perform a ritual of sonic alchemy, or resurrection. He brings a dead space back to life, gives it a voice, and allows it to speak. Metal chains, sheet metal, rocks, and factory debris are bowed, struck, and dragged across the concrete floors of the massive hall, reverberating and responding as Kuwayama and his microphones scuttle across the desolate terrain. Over the course of the album, the music stealthily shifts from oceanic ambient haze to volatile, ominous malevolence.

Kiyoharu Kuwayama began working with sound in the late 1980s, using half-scale violin, cello, and found junk objects in the group Minotaure. In 1999, he and violinist Rina Kijima formed the improvisational acoustic duo Kuwayama-Kijima to bring their instruments outdoors and perform in environments with unique acoustic properties, notably underneath a highway overpass and in a construction site. Between 1999 and 2003, Kuwayama organized the five-day-long Lethe.Voice.Festival in an unused grain warehouse.
Lethe is Kuwayamafs solo project, with the Catastrophe Point series being his primary concern. Each piece is the series is inspired by intensely resonant locations: abandoned warehouses, Shinto temples, grain silos, and underground shelters. His work is full of the empty rattle of deserted industrial space, with carefully constructed scrape and clang of objects found at each location.
Lethe was last heard from on Intransitive with Tsurumai, his stellar collaborative CD with Dutch noise legends Kapotte Muziek. He has also appeared on albums with bassist Matt Heyner (Malkuth, Cold Bleak Heat, No-Neck Blues Band), Jonathan Coleclough, Hidekai Shimada (Agencement), Carter Thornton (Enos Slaughter, Izititiz), Kiyoshi Mizutani, Urabe Masayoshi, and Campbell Kneale (Birchville Cat Motel).


Lethe / Catastrophe Point #5  
Lethe is Kuwayama Kiyharu and his instrument is an abandoned grain warehouse. Within this space, he makes noise. He does this by dragging large, heavy objects across the dirty, irregular floor, by hurling other objects against walls, battering sheets of metal, banging wood, etc. Some eight minutes into the first track, a relatively tonal, deep drone is sounded, only to fade, but giving a glimmer of resonance. This tends to be the modus operandi: the sounds of agitated, industrial detritus eventually underpinned, in somewhat mournful fashion, by strings, horns or other "real" instruments, as though gazing with melancholy on catastrophic activity.
It's a compelling mix, in some ways reminiscent of the music of Olivia Block who also has buttressed field recordings with oddly traditional, chordal sounds. Lethe's space, however, is both cavernous and claustrophobic, not bucolic. When the brass enters the second of the two pieces, amidst the clanking of chains and breaking glass, the effect is anything but pastoral much more anguished. One imagines some massive, endless, Beckettian performance of La Monte Young's "Poem for Tables, Chairs and Benches" with additional anarchic behavior thrown in for good measure. A strong, dark effort, well worth hearing.

- Brian Olewnick 2010-06-23

Lethe / Catastrophe Point #5
Lfauscultation des espaces sonores est indubitablement au coeur de la pratique de lfartiste japonais Lethe. DeLpassant le strict point de vue environnementaliste, il sfinclut lui-me^me dans les atmosphe`res industrielles qufil expose et, a` la manie`re dfun danseur de buto^, va sobrement puiser lfeLclat enfoui au plus profond de lfobscuriteL.
Empruntant son pseudonyme a` la mythologie grecque, Kiyoharu Kuwayama semble en effet opeLrer a` la frontie`re des mondes, ceux du passeL et du preLsent, ressuscitant des espaces abandonneLs et transfigurant les vestiges dfune e`re industrielle qui sfen trouve largement reLinventeLe. Pourtant la musique de Lethe ne saurait e^tre aussi paisible que le cours du fleuve des Enfers et la meLmoire dfune vie anteLrieure est ici loin dfe^tre comple`tement effaceLe. Bien au contraire, un rituel occulte la convoque, la fait renai^tre de la poussie`re, lfextirpe des murs pour la transformer en une preLsence sonore particulie`rement sombre et suggestive. Le theLa^tre reLsonnant de cette ceLreLmonie est un entrepo^t deLsaffecteL du port de Nagoya. Pas nfimporte lequel : le numeLro 20, un lieu que Kuwayama connai^t bien pour y avoir organiseL un festival de musique expeLrimentale de 1999 a` 2003. Cfest dfailleurs juste apre`s sa dernie`re eLdition qufa eLteL enregistreLe la matie`re premie`re de ce disque. Errant parmi les deLcombres, Lethe marche avec lenteur sur le sol granuleux, se frotte au beLton, marte`le les surfaces meLtalliques, reLanime des machines deLvoreLes par la rouille et en capte les moindres eLchos. Grincements lugubres, ruminations du vent sfengouffrant dans les fissures, humiditeL palpable dessinent un paysage tout en volumes dans lequel Lethe, abandonnant souvent sa distance dfobservateur, intervient discre`tement en raclant des chai^nes, projetant des tasseaux ou soufflant dans ce que lfon croit e^tre une immense trompe, eLvoquant autant lfactiviteL portuaire environnante que les instruments inventeLs par Yoshi Wada.

Review : Jean-Claude Gevrey / scala tympani

Lethe / Catastrophe Point #5
Kuwayama Kiyoharu is better known as Lethe and his 'Catastrophe Point #5' was recorded in an empty warehouse.
Inside Lethe plays metal chains, rusty metals and old wheels that were found on the site, and using the resonant
space in which these objects lie around. The concrete floor is an instrument too. To this Lethe adds his playing of
a cello and some horn like sounds. Drone music in optima forma, and one that is not heard a lot. Made by acoustic
instruments being played throughout the duration (I am thinking here of Jos Smolder's recent CDR on drone music,
which he thought was 'easy' to make - I guess Lethe here proofs him wrong). Art music, that only vaguely
resembles the work of other scrap metal artists, such as Organum, Z'EV or The New Blockaders. Lethe however
stretches out his playing in his own unique manner. This is a truly gorgeous CD. (FdW)