A rare look at an underappreciated and pioneering figure in Japanese free jazz
Aspirations of Madness, Blank Forms' fifth collection of archival, unpublished, or newly translated texts, takes its title from a series of interviews with Japanese free jazz pioneer Masayuki Takayangi that were published in Japanese in 1975-76 and are published here in English for the first time. The interviews provide a rare look at Takayanagi's eccentric practice and personality, both long under-recognized by audiences outside (and often, inside) of Japan. The postwar Japanese history that Takayanagi describes also surfaces in this publication's opening piece, a poetic tribute by the writer and artist Louise Landes Levi to one of Takayanagi's contemporaries, the poet Kazuko Shiraishi. Aspirations of Madness includes a second Levi poem as well, "A Deep River," written while at La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela's Dream House in 2003. Complementing this tradition of Japanese free improvisation and poetry is the republication of a 1977 interview with Joseph Jarman, the great composer, poet, and multi-instrumentalist. We also feature Charles Stein's introduction to Being = Space x Action. Further along, Aspirations of Madness features an excerpt from The Tree of Music, a cross-cultural treatise by the Russian musicologist Genrich "Henry" Orlov, the English translation of which has never been published before. Aspirations of Madness closes with one of Maryanne Amacher's final pieces of writing, "The Agreement," from 2009. The text takes the form of a letter between Amacher and the Open Ended Group, with whom she had planned to collaborate on her final, unfinished project, Lagrange: A Four Part Mini Series.