John Burton originally studied Painting at Norwich School of Art and Design. He graduated in 1998 and moved to London and began exploring the possibilities of recording and manipulating sound on an old computer he originally bought to write his Art School dissertation.
His first recordings reached the offices of Planet Mu Records in 1999 where its founder and Aphex Twin collaborator Mike Paradinas encouraged John’s more experimental efforts. Working with Planet Mu, John released 3 critically acclaimed albums which culminated in the release of The Housebound Spirit, an album which combined elements of music-concrete and electro-acoustic music with voice and guitar work more commonly found in folk music. It won an Honorary Mention at the 2004 Ars Electronica Awards, and was featured in The Wire Magazine’s Top 50 records of 2003.
His fourth album The Forest and the Sea Was nominated for Best Album (Quartz Award 2007) and was toured extensively throughout Europe and Australasia performing alongside Beck, Thurston Moore, Matmos, Nick Cave, Keith Fullerton Whitman, Jarvis Cocker, Yo La Tengo, Grace Jones, Beth Orton, Otomo Yoshihide, Aki Onda, Phillip Jeck, Carsten Nicolai, Tujiko Noriko amongst others.
Since 2010 John has been busy designing, building, and developing his light controlled musical interface. The interface is a music performance system comprising a light sensitive controller and specialised software developed by John that is played gesturally using handheld lights and other light sources. The sounds produced are strongly related to the performer’s actions and are all produced in real-time to create an immersive audiovisual experience. He’s performed throughout Europe using the system and given talks and workshops with it at various Music and Art Schools. In 2012 he took this system to Vietnam at the invitation of the British Council and in 2014 played it to a sold-out Roundhouse in London supporting Imogen Heap.
In 2015 the interface won the Quartz Award for Innovation. John is very interested in theatre, dance and poetry and in 2012 composed the music for Crow which was based on Ted Hughes poems of the same name. It was produced by Handspring, the puppetry company which became well known for its production of War Horse. In 2013 he was commissioned to create live music for Wayne Mcgregor’s Random Dance company.
John is also a key member of Polar Bear, a twice Mercury Music Prize-nominated band based in London.
Experimental electronic music producer Sugai Ken takes his compositional influence from Japanese rituals and tradition. With almost a decade long career he has constructed a vast body of work comprising of deeply resonant, enveloping sound worlds.
In 2016 his style took a cohesive form with the release of his album On The Quakefish. Evolving the sound design intuited on 2010’s ToKiShiNe and 2014’s Tada, Quakefish utilized an all-seeing, all-knowing edit for wider screens and wilder properties.
In 2017 he released UkabazUmorezU with a sound that generously unfurls across aural alleys and streets mundanely but mystically detailed with recontextualized Japanese rituals and tradition.
Sugai Ken’s upbringing among a generation of Japanese artists exposed to Western culture becomes the basis for another part of UkabazUmorezU’s ritualistic experimentation. On “Sawariyanagi,” for example, an atmosphere inspired by the yokai monster Yanagi Onna finds itself speaking through a Western electroacoustic motif. Elsewhere on “Ganoubyoshi” a processed “hoarsely voice of the elderly” is treated with a reverence reserved for the realm of symphonic music – the micro and the macro receive equal amounts of mindful care in the cerebral ceremony of Sugai Ken.
The profundity of UkabazUmorezU’s nighttime arrives, in part, upon the idea that what remains hidden is limitless. While one might be horrified by the concept of negative space, Sugai views this obscured horizon as an invitation for a tempered type of spontaneity. A heartfelt connection to his personal trajectory and the folk history of his country allows Sugai Ken’s UkabazUmorezU to calmly throw itself headlong into a jumbled sound experience sometimes beyond our conscious comprehension.