Japanese indie bands in townAsoto Union has been canvassing Hongdae and Itaewon with “guerrilla concerts” ― impromptu street musical performances ― that have won the band a devoted following.
Sojiro can draw more than 10,000 sounds from the ocarina, a small wind instrument that resembles a bird.
These two artists may fall right under the mainstream radar, but it’s partially their disregard for larger pop trends that have won them respect as musicians, and invitations to play at the upcoming Seoul City Festival.
“Summer Night Dream,” part of the Seoul City Festival at Ho-am Art Hall, brings together five Japanese and Korean bands in a concert series that begins on July 17. The groups are independent artists in genres like pop, jazz and world music.
The Japanese group Gontiti will be taking the stage the first day with “Witty and Comfortable Night.” This acoustic guitar duo, consisting of Gonzalez Mikami and Titi Matsumura, creates what one critic has called “the most comfortable music on earth.” Their music has been heard on MBC-TV Morning News and used in TV advertising. They opened in Korea last March for the popular New Age group Image. This will be their first local solo performance.
Fried Pride will take the stage on July 18 for a concert entitled “Sexy and Powerful Night.” The vocalist Shiho and guitarist Akio Yokoto make up this popular jazz duo from Japan. (For a review of their latest album, see page W7.)
Representing Korean talent, Asoto Union will be performing for “Funky and Soulful Night” on July 21. Asoto Union is Kim Ban-jang on drums and vocals, Yoon Gab-yeol on guitar, Lim Ji-hun on keyboard and Kim Mun-hee on bass.
Asoto Union’s first album, “Sound Renovates a Structure,” was stocked only by niche music stores here, but still managed to sell 20,000 copies.
At the 2003 Korean Music Awards, they were nominated for four prizes: Best Album, Best New Artist, Best Band and Best in R&B. They walked away with a “special prize.”
On July 23, Sojiro will perform on the ocarina along with Hiroko Imai on violin and Yo Site on harp. He’s been playing the ocarina, derived from the Italian word for “little goose,” since 1975. Japanese broadcaster NHK-TV awarded him a prize of distinction in 1986 for his works.
Rounding out the performances is Lee-Tzsche, who will be performing on July 24. She debuted in the late 1980s as Lee Sang-eun, winning fans with offbeat songs like “Tamdadi.”
She left Korea to study in New York and Japan, and upon her return to Korea began a journey of self-identity, releasing a slew of albums. Under the name Lee-Tzsche, she’s been creating acoustic numbers about love and nature.
Last year, the festival lineup included the New Age pianist Yuriko Nakamura, Sasaki Isao, the guitarist Lee Byoung-woo and fusion gukak team The Lim and Cobana.
by Joe Yong-hee
Tickets are 30,000 won ($26) and 50,000 won. Visit www. hoamarthall.org/city/city2004.htm.