Kazuya Nagaya has long altered the exquisite sacred sounds of bronze bells, gongs and singing bowls to recontextualize the meditative effect of their reverberating sound and silence. Ponderous and thoughtful, Nagaya's drifting notes and echoing drones inquire about the world and incite personal introspection.
Before becoming a musician, Nagaya was a writer who focused on Japan's ethnic minority and literature that was quickly becoming a casualty in fast-paced contemporary Japanese society, including Buddhist folktales and Zen philosophy. He transmitted his literary and metaphysical interests into music for television and TV commercials, but by the late-90s he embarked on a personal journey—pairing traditional sacred objects for Buddhist or Hindu rituals from Tibet, Bali and Japan with modern instruments such as keyboards and electric guitars to create his unique ambient music. Alone and unaltered by electronics, the sound of bells, gongs and bowls of age-old ritual—their reverberations quieting into reverent immortal silence—reminds people of the dead and the unknown depths of one's self. Among his recent performances, Nagaya collaborated with video artist Ali Demirel in a 2018 audiovisual performance evoking introspection and self-awareness associated with Zen meditation. For 2017 sound installation and live performance Constellations, Kazuya and Metametric (Montréal composer Jean-François Pedno) combined 500 traditional Orin singing bowls with contemporary electronic music. Delving still further into the Buddhist rituals and altars that inspire his work, Nagaya debuted performance piece Ambr in 2018, placing 445 rins (traditional Japanese bowl-shaped instruments) in a circular arrangement and using electronic processes to elicit an intense, elegant reverberation.
At MUTEK this year, Nagaya performs on 212 Japanese traditional Buddhist instrument bowls, installed on the floor in circle around him and his laptop. A wholly unique performance that sets the tone for Tim Hecker and the Konoyo Ensemble to follow.
With the support of J-LOD Subsidy Program for JAPAN CONTENT.