Saturday, 27 April 2013


Incapacitants (インキャパシタンツ Inkyapashitantsu) are a Japanese noise music group formed in 1981. It consists of Toshiji Mikawa and Fumio Kosakai, whose stated aim is to produce "pure" noise, uninfluenced by musical ideas or even human intention, using primarily feedback, vocals, and various electronics. Kosakai calls this sound "hard noise", as a nod to hard bop.

The group was formed in 1981 in Osaka, Japan, as the solo project of Mikawa, a member of the noise improv group Hijokaidan. Mikawa, a bank employee, later moved to Tokyo, where he joined with government office worker Kosakai (of C.C.C.C., and who would later become a regular member of Hijokaidan) to make Incapacitants a duo. Many of the group's track titles reference their professions, but because of their day jobs, the two have not often been able to tour abroad. Incapacitants are counted among the more well known of the Japanese noise bands formed in the 1980s, along with such names as the aforementioned Hijokaidan and C.C.C.C., as well as Hanatarash, Solmania, The Gerogerigegege, Merzbow, and Masonna. The group also recorded sessions with Vivian Slaughter of Gallhammer.

The project started in Osaka as something Toshiji Mikawa would do during times Jojo Hiroshige didn’t need him for his main outlet, Hijokaidan. Fumio Kosakai, for his part, was a member of scuzz-erotic performance art troupe C.C.C.C. but craved something harsher. The banker and government employee met eventually met and decided to make the best and most disgusting sounds humans could endure with two contact mics. Thus starts the legend of one of the most inspired outlets to concoct pure, uncomfortable sound.

Their earliest recordings were released on tapes by Toshiji’s own label Pariah (later compiled and released as a CD box set on Finnish power electronics haven Freak Animal) and, as a duo, they did some work before Feedback of N.M.S., but this album is significant for important reasons. For starters, it was released on Jojo’s Alchemy Records as part of the Good Alchemy Vol. 1 series, whose first part was Merzbow’s classic Rainbow Electronics, no fucking less. Feedback is no slouch, and should be regarded as fervently as Masami’s masterpiece; it’s a continuous force of low-end rumble with high pitched clashes of frequencies with what sounds like ongoing screaming for much of the three tracks presented. “Curse Of Ceauşescu” takes almost 30 minutes to unroll, yet you barely feel it lasting that long through your aural nervous breakdown. The live track really shines, demonstrating that noise can breath and become a living entity when captured at the spark of the moment in front of a crowd.

Incapacitants themselves call their style hard noise. I call it “relentless, collapsing art” – it should be on permanent display at all museums, schools, and mental hospitals the world over.
Marcos Hassan

Incapacitants began in 1981 as Toshiji Mikawa's solo project. The original base of activity was Osaka, where Mikawa collaborated with Yamatsuka Eye and others. Later, after the move to Tokyo, Fumio Kosakai became a member, to form the current duo. From the beginning, while the attempt to achieve pure noise has been the most important aspect of their sound, they have also been famous for their stage performances, which are so wild they may remind people of pro wrestling matches. This aggressive, energetic style and the beauty of their noise are unrivaled. Along with Hijo Kaidan, Merzbow, C.C.C.C., and Solmania, Incapacitants is one of the most well known of the noise bands which started out in the early '80s. Because of the members' other work--Mikawa is a bank employee and Kosakai works in a government office--they have rarely toured inside or outside Japan. In November 1999, they performed at the festival Music Unlimited '99 in Wels, Austria. This was their first performance overseas.
Anoema Recordings: For many years (or decades, to be more precise) you have been making ear shattering noises. Any changes or progress in your approach over the years?

Toshiji Mikawa: I started my recording in my high school days. At first, it was guitar improvisation influenced by Derek Bailey and some other improvisers. In those days, I thought I could play that kind of improvisation, of course soon I found I was totally wrong. Then I encountered various kind of "free music" including Jean Dubuffet and L.A.F.M.S. I learned anything was OK and so continued the recording experiments. I made several cassettes under the name of Contradictory Bridge. At that time, I met Jojo Hiroshige and he invited me to join his new unit, originally named Fushoku no Marie, which later became Hijokaidan, by succeeding the original Hijokaidan's name. So, I joined most of Hijokaidan's recording since then (some exceptions recorded by Jojo and Junko only). Contradictory Bridge became Incapacitants, originally my solo recording project. When I moved to Tokyo from Osaka, I was asked to do live performance as Incapacitants and I asked Fumio Kosakai to join as a member. It was in early 90's. As Incapacitants, Pariah Tapes & Repo were my solo recordings. Still, at first, I thought Incapacitants was a recording project and not suitable for live performance. But with Fumio as a permanent member, Incapacitants has changed very dramatically. The reason why I started Incapacitants as my solo recording project apart from Hijokaidan was that I wanted to concentrate on noise itself, keeping myself away from Hijokaidan's disgusting live performance in early 80's. However, doing live performance with Fumio, I came to feel it's fun to me. 

AR: Do you feel there is an insurpassable difference between noise and music? Does noise offer something that music doesn't?

: What I would like to say is that, for example, "techno pop" is the name of a genre of music, but I can't admit that the same thing can be said about "noise". I believe "noise" should stand as it is and should not be taken on by "music". "Music" always tends to take on "noise" as its part, but "noise" should not yield to that attractive temptation. Keeping away from "music", "noise" can maintain its original power and strength. It's quite important to me.
AR: Art is often harnessed for the extra-aesthetic purposes. In your work, what agenda should we look for?

TM: I don't have any special message in my noise, but being loud. 

A mass of high pitched whirling around your head while the junkyard you're standing on rapidly shifts and breaks apart. In my experience this has been one of the headier Incapacitants releases - good stuff to melt into at 2 AM. 

Nicholas Herd: Are there anymore concerts planned in the near future? I understand it is quite difficult to get time off from your day job as a banker to perform concerts, and I remember reading about a talk you conducted at the CCA in Kitakyushu, in which you explained the importance of balancing a good working life with that of your musical output in the evenings.

Toshiji Mikawa: I think you understand correctly what I thought, but recently I changed my mind slightly.  I try to accept offers as many as I can.  Regarding Incapacitants, with Fumio's children still rather young, he would like to stay with his family as long as possible, so live appearances will be reduced.  I decided to accept offers to Incapacitants as my solo or sessions with others, such as GOMIKAWA, if organizers are OK.

NH: Are there any new Japanese artists or bands you would recommend? Many more noise artists seem to be emerging in other parts of the Orient - but most noise from Japan seems to be from artists who have been performing since the 80’s and 90’s, it seems.

TM: Regarding "new noise (area) artists" my recommendations are Jah Excretion, Kazuma Kubota, Endon, Veltz, Niwa and probably many more (relatively) young talented artists, whose names I can't remember now, cos I'm a bit drunken.

NH: As a performer you favour pedals on stage, what is your favourite equipment to use in the live setting?  I also noticed your use of Air Synths which also adds to your physical performance when on stage.

TM: My recent favorite instrument is Tetrazzi.  It's totally amazing!!! As you mentioned, I love Air Synth so much. Very great instruments, especially when used live.


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