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About Eiko Ishibashi
Eiko Ishibashi is a Japanese session musician, producer, and singer/songwriter. As her albums demonstrate, she is equally comfortable composing and performing everything from quirky pop, modern classical music, and prog to the extremes of improvisational jazz and noise. She has performed and toured with Jim ORourke, Keiji Haino, Akira Sakata, Charlemagne Palestine, Oren Ambarchi, and Glenn Kotche, to name a few. Her 2014 offering, Car and Freezer, offered evidence of the seam where her quirky brand of pop met complex jazz composition, while Kouen Kyoudai, her 2016 album-length collaboration with Masami Akita (Merzbow) offered an exercise in industrial improvisation.
Ishibashi's main instrument is piano, though she is adept at drums, flute, and vibraphone. She received formal musical training in childhood through the high school in her hometown of Monbara in Chiba Prefecture and began to pursue a career in music as a drummer in several bands, including Puff Puff. She also worked as a studio musician for many Japanese artists on piano and vibes.
Her first "solo" recording was Slip Beneath the Distant Tree in 2007, a double-length duo offering with Ruins bassist Tatsuya Yoshida. She followed it a year later with the innovative Drifting Devil. The album captured the critical imagination of Japanese journalists -- many of whom selected it as one of the year's best recordings -- as well as the admiration of fellow musicians, and her reputation grew.
Ishibashi was working constantly both in the studio and on the road with an entire range of players in addition to performing her own shows. 2009 saw the release of the collaborative trio album Maboroshi with Gianni Gebbia and Daniele Camarda.
The following year she met O'Rourke when they were both invited to play on Phew!'s Five Finger Discount. He asked her to perform on his All Kinds of People: Love Burt Bacharach tribute set that was also issued in 2010, and they joined one another's bands. He produced Ishibashi's 2011 album Carapace, and recorded and mixed her solo piano follow-up, I'm Armed. Both recordings were issued on Felicity. In 2013, she played on Gaspar Claus' Jo Ha Kyū alongside Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haino, and Kazutoki Umezu.
She also signed to Drag City, which released Imitation of Life, produced by O'Rourke. She followed it with Car and Freezer in 2014. Ishibashi and O'Rourke were also members of Kafka's Ibiki, who cut three albums between 2013 and 2014. She played on O'Rourke's Simple Songs in 2015. Ishibashi kept up a rigorous touring regimen that included playing her own shows and with O'Rourke and their band. She also found time to form RNA with Fumio Kosakai and Kimihide Kusafuka, and cut the double-cassette release No New Tokyo.
In early 2016, Ishibashi released another duo recording, this one in collaboration with Masami Akita (aka Merzbow); entitled Kouen Kyoudai, it was recorded and mixed by O'Rourke and released on Editions Mego. That same year she also worked with experimental sound artist and composer John Duncan on his full-length Bitter Earth, and privately released the digital-only piano trio full-length Six Feet Under with bassist Toshiaki Sudoh and drummer Tatsuhisa Yamamoto. After time off and touring with O'Rourke, Ishibashi returned to the studio in 2018 and released the experimental Ichida in collaboration with composer and multi-instrumentalist Darin Gray on Black Truffle, and her own mutant pop collection, The Dream My Bones Dream, on Drag City. ~ Thom Jurek
- Mobara, Chiba Prefecture, Japan