With a name that sounded more like an advertisement for a Julu Lu massage parlor than a concert, we weren’t sure what to expect from Free Touching, Sunday night’s “free noise and improv” event at Live Bar (it didn’t help that we misread 噪音 — noise — as something else). While there was no actual touching involved, it did turn out to be a very visceral experience.
The show featured the Nakatani-Chen duo, a US-based group just kicking off their tour of Asia, followed by Torturing Nurse of NOIShanghai. Both Chen and Nakatani are successful solo artists who occasionally collaborate, with Audrey Chen providing vocals and playing the cello, and Tatsuya Nakatani banging, slapping, stroking, and bowing a wide array of percussive instruments. The duo performed two pieces, both of which started off simply and grew organically with improvisations on the basic themes. We honestly can’t describe the sound any better than that — Shanghaiist, along with the rest of the audience, stood transfixed throughout the performance, hypnotized by the shrieks, grunts, clangs and scrapes that somehow formed themselves into melody, harmony and rythm and became music.
Torturing Nurse, on the other hand, is much easier to describe: noise. Tuneless guitar, screaming, feedback, and overwhelming distortion muddling the whole thing. While there was an artistic quality to the performance — the kewpie doll mask was a nice touch — we can’t see it as much more than a novelty. Thankfully they call it “noise art,” not music, so we weren’t forced to be the old fart complaining about “kids these days …”
Shanghai Streets has photos of the Nakatani-Chen Duo and Torturing Nurse.