Recorded at Amann Studios, Vienna, March 2004
Front cover image (reproduced above) by Asuna; design by Hirozumi Takeda.
Ami Yoshida and Christof Kurzmann are both well-respected artists within the international community, each performing in a wide range of contexts from abstract to pure pop. Both are best known for their long-running duos, Yoshida for Cosmos (with Sachiko M) and Kurzmann for schnee (with Burkhard Stangl). This project finds them in far less comfortable territory, and a s o is the outcome of two years of hard work.
Ami Yoshida strives to create a pure sound, abstracting her voice until it becomes almost completely unrecognizable. She created her unique style with no conventional training, initially inspired by Meredith Monk. Cosmos and Astro Twin (with Utah Kawasaki) are her two longest-running projects, and their split release won the 2003 Ars Electronica award. She has also recorded as a solo artist, most notably Tiger Thrush (IMJ), a kaleidoscopic catalog of 99 fragments. Her small catalog almost exclusively finds her working with other Tokyo-based musicians; a s o is one of her first releases to break that formula.
Kurzmann has been a prominent part of both the Vienna and (more recently) the Berlin scenes over the past decade. As an organizer, he cofounded the phonoTAKTIK festival, helped begin the prominent Rhiz club in Vienna, and runs the prestigious Charhizma label. Since moving to Berlin in 2001, he has organized countless shows, including the Berlin half of AMPLIFY 2004: addition. Kurzmann has been an essential part of many Erstwhile-related live events, in Tokyo, Berlin and the just concluded ErstQuake 3 in NYC, and was the first to work at Amann Studios for an Erstwhile release, beginning a crucial relationship for the label.
a s o contains recordings from the first meeting of Yoshida and Kurzmann in March 2004. The collaboration was a difficult one, partly because of their wildly different backgrounds and partly because of the communication issues due to their language differences. Four translators helped the project along over the course of the two years it took to make this record (Taku Unami, Toshimaru Nakamura, Yuko Zama and Kae Uchihashi). Although it was a long and complicated journey, the end result is very organic and accomplished. a s o contains an extremely broad range of abstract approaches from both artists, resulting in a wildly different soundworld from any of their previous recordings, and has been beautifully captured as always by recording engineer Christoph Amann. The impeccably minimal yet lush CD design is by Hirozumi Takeda, utilizing images provided by asuna.