Degenerate Art Ensemble
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Degenerate Art Ensemble

Band Alternative Avant-garde


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The best kept secret in music


"What the Press have to Say about DAE"

Organ Magazine (London)
“So, what is the Degenerate Art Ensemble? An orchestra? A live band? A dance troupe? An experimental theatre company? Forget even trying to pop the Degenerate Art Ensemble into any of those pigeonholes - yet they are all, and much more than the sum of those. It’s performance art that has broken out of the seclusion of the art house into that dirty real world of gigs... The Degenerate Art Ensemble have smeared together the styles called classical, experimental, world, jazz and rock music so completely that it seems pointless to ever untangle them again. Remember the time when there were such things as boundaries?”

Berliner Morgenpost (Berlin)
“This music and movement ensemble create work outside of all music and dance conventions... telling surreal stories filled with sweetness, power and humor. The unexpected is accomplished and a mysterious mythology emerges.”

Kultur Magazine (Prague)
“They entranced the audience... the secret of their performance is perfect drama, gradation and splendid visuals, indescribable costumes and a punk-symphonic-garage-big-band style. Dynamic upheavals were turning into relaxing passages and everything was falling into place like wheels in a post-modernist clock machine.”

Willamette Week (Portland)
“Prepare for some serious aesthetic bastinado... make way for a few conceptions about boundaries between theater, classical and rock music to melt... it leaves a huge chunk of the rule book tattered in the gutter.”

San Francisco Bay Guardian (San Francisco)
“(DAE’s dancer/choreographer) Haruko Nishimura gave a performance that sparkled with the looseness of an improvisation, all the while maintaining the control of a master.”

Nichibei Times (San Francisco)
“Low tones of bass and the creaking of DAE’s self made panthrastic harp zither created an exquisite and harmonious soundscape as the movement of Nishimura’s limbs stirred the audience into ecstasy. She captured internal emotions and sentiments awakening and arousing - her velvety smooth movement producing a supernatural and ghostly air.”

The Seattle Weekly (Seattle)
“Nishimura evoked Mothra, Marlene Dietrich, and a live-action cartoon character, captivating and surreal, proving that she’s one of Seattle’s most gifted performers.”

Press about our new album:

The Stranger Review Article
The Bastress
recommended recommended recommended recommended

The first time I heard Nina Hagen's "Nunsexmonkrock" was on three hits of acid in a Spokane Nazi's art studio. This new Degenerate Art Ensemble record induces more musical-genetic transmutation than that experience ever did. The Bastress, the seventh album of the 12-year-old, nine-member collective sounds totally new, vividly recreating the death hallucinations of a decaying city in their noise-streams. Haruko Nishimura's senses-snaring vocals play as one of the instruments. Joshua Kohl, conducts while Josh Stewart plays trumpet and sings; together the trio score and compose with the band. The music is great, controlled-to-the-point-of-madness psych-noir, as Nishimura squeals, shrieks, scats, and shines throughout. Stewart constructs cacophony through the Shostakovich-meets-bebop of "Tits and Honey (AKA James Taylor)," and the grunting and spinning skronk of "Smoking Car" (inspired by a Bukowski poem).

Don't miss their October 1st show, as Nishimura (also of the Butter Sprites) uses her formal Butoh-dancing training to twitch and flow every part of her body and startle the audience with visual caresses and suggested internalized violence. The band will be restored to the nine-piece that recorded this (their most accessible, but still mind-fucking) album. As with any DAE show, you will be forced to respond somehow with and against those around you—personally, I haven't seen club-goers induced to react to a band as they have to DAE since the final days of GG Allin. - CHRIS ESTEY (The Stranger -Seattle)

"We get about 100 new albums a DAY coming in here now, (about 100,000 total), and The Bastress is one of the best I've ever heard." - Derek Sivers, Founder, CDBaby

1. i love this record.
2. a defiant circus of carefully crafted chaos...sublime and raucous.
3. a jedi mind-fuck.
4. this is a beautifully crafted, yet marvelously unhinged sonic adventure.
- Carla Kihlstedt (Tin Hat Trio, Sleepytime Gorrilla Museum, Charming Hostess, Tom Waits, Tzadik Records)

"This is visceral, smart modern music with a huge dynamic range, from delicate shards to explosive grooving enhanced by the full-on banshee wailing of vocalist Nishimura. Complexity without nerdiness and drawing from on a wide world of sound filtered through the kind of anti-authoritarian sensibility that's the perfect antidote to ambivalent alt-rock." - Elliott Sharp (NYC)

"Man, this stuff is great. This is cool!" - Bill Frisell
- Various


The Bastress
By Nick Southgate

For more than 12 years The Degenerate Art Ensemble have stampeded over every artistic boundary they have found before them. Much of their reputation is based on their multimedia performances, where they don oulandish costumes reminiscent of some macabre pantomime.

The Bastress, their seventh studio album, has to stand alone from this visual support. Nonethless the music is so rampant with ideas that it peoples the theatre of the imagination with its own compelling actors. The line-up is a nonet conducted by Joshua Kohl, and the most immediate and visceral force on the recordings is the voice of Haruko Nishimura. Her dextrous howls and screeches skittle over the opening "Oni Gorshi" and the title track, where she is answered, provoked and confronted by a chorus of male voices.

Equally striking are the instrumentals. The big-band-gone-bad rollercoaster of "Beast With a Bellyful of Bedsprings" is intense and overwhelming. "Tits And Honey" opens with a helter-skelter bass riff and angular guitar line, the drums rising and rolling underneath. The brass section vamp in an off-kilter manner, only for the whole performance to subside to a shuffling whisper. It revives itself for guitarist Sam Mickens to execute a stabbing solo, before stumbling and rumbling into a capitulating diminuendo.

The impact of Nishimura's voice and the versatile energy of the group's collective instrumental prowess combine most memorabley on the closing track "Smoking Baby", a sinister prowl that explodes and climaxes with her wretched intoning "Lonely, lonely, lonely" with a disturbing and invasive frankness. - Wire Magazine


This is DAE’s NEWEST album! The second of the 10 member big band garage orchestra albums with Haruko Nishimura on vocals. This was the music performed on DAE’s 2003-2004 Europe Tour.s

Lookoaway Popeye 2003
This was DAE’s first album of the big band garage orchestra with Haruko on vocals. This album represents the first group of recording by DAE’s 10 piece jazz/punk orchestra.

Rinko 2001
Rinko was composed for a DAE dance work. Super gorgeous feast of eerie, complex, textured, taiko drums, microtonal violins, rich driving strings, haunting melodies – virtuosically played – created for Haruko Nishimura’s apocalyptic choreographed vision of a small girl amongst mutants in a dying world. This is not for the weak of heart – for serious sonic adventurists.

Scream!Liondogs 1999
A dance/theater work created in 1999 in memory of a slain Asian American youth by Skinheads. This album is super diverse, from Henry Threadgill-ish grooving jazz big band, to Japanese shamisen and space guitar and driving circus thrash.

Razor Stitch 1998
Tiny alien choruses, wailing cocoon hatchlings, intense atmospheric acoustics – all created for a DAE dance work that told the story of creatures hatching in a laboratory and being subjected to scientific tests and endless tribulations. This album features a lot of really unique sounds and is DAE’s most ambient and moody.

This was DAE’s film score to Fritz Lang’s 1926 silent film classic Metropolis. Written for 17 piece big band / orchestra, it is filled with bursting mechanical explosions, dramatic suspense, heart breaking melodies, exotic cocktail parties and skeleton executioners – all played by an exuberant orchestra.

The Young Composers Collective 1995
Degenerate Art Ensemble was founded in 1993 under the name of The Young Composers Collective, a 17 piece orchestra. This CD is filled with creepy film like pieces, insane big band romps, funky orchestral junk band and energetic quirky new classical chamber music.


Feeling a bit camera shy


A group that through boundary shattering music and dance transforms traditional genres into multi-dimensional explosive and expressive works. This hard-edged, delicate and complex visual music and dance performance company has earned rave reviews throughout the US and Europe. A performance company that reflects our multi-faceted and multi dimensional culture.

DAE’s work ranges from full theatrical stage productions to intimate concerts, always invading all of the senses and the depths of the imagination

DAE is known to morph and transform – a dance company, punk/jazz band, a 45 piece orchestra - the group never losing its ability to electrify an audience and create experiences that bring audiences to new territories of perception. At its core DAE’s key artists are constantly in a state of invention and re-invention – always guided by a strong unified creative vision.

Degenerate Art Ensemble harnesses the forces of visionary dancer/choreographer Haruko Nishimura and a team of collaborating composers – creating music intensive dance theater and intensely visual music performance.

All of DAE’s dance theater works, from small chamber versions, to full main-stage productions, are performed with rich live music scores – the musicians fully visually and theatrically into the works. Many of DAE’s works are available in both chamber and main stage versions.

The group has performed over 500 shows in 10 countries and explored such a variety of formats as music, dance, theater, film scoring, recording, sculpture, painting and performance art. One of the expressed goals of the group is to “explode the boundaries of art”, and explode them it has, constantly seeking to challenge and renew itself and its audience to create a never-before felt experience at each performance. This extremely versatile group includes dancer/choreographer Haruko Nishimura, drawing from Butoh and European theatre traditions to create “breathtakingly powerful images using the sparest movement style” (Seattle P-I), and a troupe of extraordinarily gifted musicians and composers working together to make sure the “lines between classical, jazz, world music and hard rock aesthetics are obliterated in the eloquently executed, high-energy repertoire.” (San Francisco Weekly) The DAE has held performances at such venues as On The Boards (Seattle), The Moore Theater (Seattle), Bumbershoot (Seattle), the Crocodile Café (Seattle), Orph Theater (Berlin), Archa Theater (Prague), Teatr 2. Strefa (Warsaw), Theater Yugen (San Francisco), KUD France Preseren (Ljubljana), and the streets of Seattle. 2005 has been an exciting year! The group performed a concert of 10 new world premieres by Northwest Composers to an audience of 1,200 at Seattle’s Moore Theater, taken a month long tour of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Germany with the support of Arts International, and is premiering a set of new music commissioned by Meet The Composer in New York at John Zorn’s new club “The Stone”, and is in preparation for the premiere of their new dance work Cuckoo Crow which will open at the Moore Theater in Seattle in March of 2006.