Spatial Sound

Kazuya Nagaya

Kazuya Nagaya is a Japanese artist who creates immersive, ritualized compositions through the use of bronze bells, gongs and singing bowls. Since releasing his first album Utsuho in 1999, he has composed music for a range of projects, ranging from collaborations with Tibetan Buddhist monks to a remix for Plastikman. Kazuya Nagaya uses bronze bells, gongs and singing bowls which are mostly used in Buddhist or Hindu rituals in Tibet, Bali and Japan. He creates unique ambient music by mixing these sacred instruments with modern instruments.

Nagaya`s music is rooted in philosophies and sensibilities unique to Japan. Both Japanese Buddhism -the likes of Zen- and Japan's exquisite forms of artistic expression, such as ink paintings and haiku, all put high value on extreme simplicity entirely free from ornamentation, and indeed it is in their simplicity that they express, paradoxically, the profundity of their spirituality. In this same sense, the ambient music produced by Kazuya Nagaya aims to convey profundity of spirit to the listener by virtue of its very simplicity.

Nagaya started out to pursue his talents in literature and became a writer. During this period, he also became deeply interested in literary works that were becoming lost in the shuffle of contemporary Japanese society: novels like the Tales of Genji, as well as Buddhist folktales and Zen philosophical works. These interests breathed life into his music, and the sensibilities and philosophical views which he developed during his literary years have come to be reflected in large measure in the music he creates today.

An example of this can be detected in the sounds of bells heard so frequently in his music. The giant bells found in Japanese temples are rung each New Year's eve. The sound is believed to purify and wash away the cares of this mortal world, and crowds flock to listen in reverent silence. What they listen for, however, is not the sound at the moment the bell is struck, but rather the fading sound that follows. As the sound fades away, simultaneously, the depth of their own silence grows even greater. In this way, the sound of the bell makes people aware of the profound silence - and richness - lying within themselves. It is silence of a depth fundamentally identical to that which is engendered through meditation or Zen. The temple bell, meditation and Zen are all ways of penetrating into the depths of one's self.