chiemukai.jpgChie Mukai started studying improvised music under Takehisa Kosugi in the late 70s, and was a member of the renowned Japanese freeform group East Bionic Symphonia at this time. Kosugi was the one who gave Mukai her first er-hu, a bowed Chinese “violin” of challenging tonalities. The instrument (and its Japanese variation, the kokyu) has been a central part of Mukai’s creative endeavours ever since. In the early 80s, Mukai started playing in various improvised contexts, and she also formed her own folk-psych unit Che-SHIZU, a group which stil exists and has released five full albums to date.

Throughout the eighties and nineties, Mukai has been much in demand as a collaborator. Her work has appeared on several compilations, including the “Welcome to Dreamland” compilation curated by Fred Frith.

She has also appeared on records by the Los Angeles Free Music Society, by famous Japanese folk singer Morio Agata, and by Christoph Gallio. In November 2000, SIWA records of the USA released a solo album by Mukai – her solo first non-Japanese release. In the same year, she appeared at the Beijing International Art Exchange festival in Beijing, a gathering of performance artists that was banned by the Chinese authorities.

For the past few years, Mukai has organized the annual Perspective Emotion festival in Tokyo. This festival brings together multi-media performers from across Asia. Mukai continues to perform solo, in duos, and with Che-SHIZU throughout Japan. Alan Cummings