Asian Meeting Festival, featuring experimental music, moves to Singapore

Asian Meeting Festival founder Otomo Yoshihide (above) and The Observatory's Vivian Wang (below) will perform at the event.
Asian Meeting Festival founder Otomo Yoshihide (above) and The Observatory's Vivian Wang will perform at the event.PHOTOS: ASIAN MEETING FESTIVAL/ PLAYFREELY
Asian Meeting Festival founder Otomo Yoshihide (above) and The Observatory's Vivian Wang (below) will perform at the event.
Asian Meeting Festival founder Otomo Yoshihide and The Observatory's Vivian Wang (above) will perform at the event.PHOTOS: ASIAN MEETING FESTIVAL/ PLAYFREELY

Asian Meeting Festival, a showcase of cutting-edge music founded in Japan, will be held here today and tomorrow

The Asian Meeting Festival, featuring experimental music artists from across the region, will be held in Singapore this year.

The Projector will host the event today and tomorrow for 15 acts that will stage performances solo, as well as in pairs and ensembles.

The artists include Junji Hirose and Jojo Hiroshige from Japan, Senyawa from Indonesia, Tara Transitory from Thailand, Sudarshan Chandra Kumar from Malaysia, and The Observatory's Vivian Wang from Singapore.

In the last two years, the event was held in Japan to showcase cutting-edge music made across Asia.

This year's edition, titled Closer To The Edge, is a collaboration with Playfreely, the local series of regular shows organised by home- grown band The Observatory.

Asian Meeting Festival's rapid growth is a catalyst for its expansion outside of Japan, says its founder Otomo Yoshihide, a veteran composer and musician in the Japanese experimental music scene.

"When I started the festival with my limited resources back then, I looked upon it as a network of simple and personal relationships between musicians, organisers and friends around Asia," says the 57-year-old.

Yoshihide, The Observatory's Yuen Chee Wai and Hong Kong- based musician dj sniff curated the line-up and are also performing at the festival.

They have included a mix of both established names and emerging artists who are active in their respective scenes.

Yuen, 41, says: "In a way, this gathering is also a meeting of some of the most constructive minds and hearts of modern music-making in Asia, for them to share with one another this passion and knowledge, and how to continue pushing this boundary further and a step closer to the edge."

Yoshihide will also hold dialogue, performance and workshop sessions at The Observatory's rehearsal studio space at Goodman Arts Centre on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He says that he is always "surprised" by the diverse range of talent in the experimental music scene in Singapore and the region.

"For so many years I have been circling in the European and American music scene, it has become so predictable for me there.

"I am looking forward to the future of the South-east Asian music scene. It has a very different background from new Western music. It is always so rich and unpredictable."

But the event is also about more than just music.

Pointing to Japanese experimental film artist Takashi Makino's performance of a live audio-visual work utilising a 16mm film projector, Yuen says: "With Makino lending a film element to this repertoire, it shows that Playfreely has the legs to evolve beyond just music and also allows the space to be an inspiration to the entire experience."

With backing from Japan Foundation's Asia Center, a Japanese cultural exchange institution, the organisers hope to be able to forge more collaborations by staging future editions of Asian Meeting Festival in other Asian countries.

Says Yuen: "Japan Foundation's Asia Center has unequivocally supported Asian Meeting Festival and our intentions in fostering a healthy Asian music circuit, by constantly allowing us to bridge collaborations among musicians from different countries."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 08, 2016, with the headline 'Pushing boundaries with music'. Print Edition | Subscribe