Friday, December 13, 2013

Zbigniew Karkowski (1958-2013)

"Many say they are sorry to hear of Zbigniew Karkowsky's death. I, for one, am not.

I still hear Zbigniew's infectious laugh, hear his voice, see the sparkle of mischief in his eyes. Ripping a poster of an exhibition that my piece BLIND DATE was in off the window of a packed Yamanote-sen in Tokyo, then showing it to a suited salaryman and encouraging him to take his children to look for it in the show. Both of us laughing hysterically when the train was gone.

Zbigniew always seemed utterly without fear. His final gesture, traveling for hours in a canoe into the Amazon jungle directly after flights from Europe lasting nearly 24 hours, to be treated by a Shipbo shaman is perfectly in keeping with everything else he did. All the way, no compromise. His final wish, if the treatment failed, was to be left in the jungle to be eaten. No ceremony, no grave. If it succeeded as he hoped, he said he would bring back stories of the adventure. Somehow, I still expect to hear them.

A Karkowsky concert often meant that we would see smoke rising from the burning speakers of the overdriven PA, fumes clearing the room. As much as he seemed to enjoy it when that happened, frankly I doubt that this was ever done for effect: he simply demanded that his music be heard with the power that he intended, that he himself heard. During a residency, one of several, at The Compound in San Francisco, director Naut Humon proudly remembered that Zbigniew played lower frequencies at volumes so high that they shattered the toilet bowl. Musicians who worked with him often spoke of him with unabashed admiration, said they looked forward to a chance to do it again.

Yes, Zbigniew was often cruel when drunk, plenty of those stories to go around. So far, I have yet to meet anyone who isn't. Alcohol is a seductive, motherless bitch to anyone who lets her have her way. She slams doors of friendship shut and, under her influence, Zbigniew slammed a few more than his share.

When Zbigniew moved to Tokyo, he was fortunate enough to meet Atsuko (I never did hear her last name), who stayed together with him for fifteen years, travelled to Greece to spend a last several days together, saw him off in Paris for the flight to Peru. If she and I never meet, here I send her a huge, heartfelt Thank You.

So today, and many more days like it, will be spent thinking of that laugh, that love of entertaining friends, that cavalier and uncompromising sense of daring. One of the first phrases in Japanese that Zbigniew said he learned was 'Omanko wa oishii' -- 'Cunt is delicious'. Here, too, he was absolutely right."

(John Duncan, 13.12.2013.)


Dario Moratilla said...

Hi Jhon, Peter
Here Dario Moratiila (Games Adiction, Dentera)
Truly thanks for Sharing this¡¡¡
Sad days Sad days this fall with Aube Parmegiani and Z.K. on the other side. Exposure to a CONCERT of Z-Sensei is taking DMT.
Also remember his laughter in Madrid Barcelona Valencia but mostly I remember his attitude in live and philosophy that has left embodied in his work. One of the best of All times. thousand times copied but never surpassed
big hug 4all and play it loud

Peter Wullen said...

Thanks! Yes play it loud! P.

Malga Kubiak said...

i just love him

Peter Wullen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Wullen said...

Don't we all? He was a lovely person. ;)

Peter Wullen said...

Dear friends,

This is a spontaneous proposal for a sonic tribute to Zbigniew Karkowski.

I’m sending this to those of you that I know -or I believe- knew Zbigniew
(list below). Please feel free to disseminate if you know other friends of
his that could be interested in participating.

This is intended as a sincere expression of admiration and respect for his
uncompromised attitude towards creation, the sheer strength of his work,
and his unparalleled encouragement to many of us to dare find those forces
within ourselves.

Having known Zbigniew for many years, and in the spirit of so many witty
and unforgiving discussions we had, this time I’d like to tell him “This is
no bullshit, man!”.



A Sonic Tribute to Zbigniew Karkowski (1958-2013)

Sound compilation invite for friends of the late Zbigniew Karkowski
Pieces created from his music / noise
Maximum length: 5:00 minutes
Format: downloadable WAVE audio file 44kHz/16-bit
Deadline: January 31st, 2014
Release format / label (physical/online or both): to be determined [ideas /
suggestions / support welcomed]
Proposed / coordinated by Francisco López - December 2013

Peter Wullen said...

ZK tribute in Lausanne CH:

Peter Wullen said...

Zbigniew Karkowski tribute on university radio Radio Campus ( on Saturday January 25 from 6pm till 8pm. No words. Just sounds. We will play excerpts from 'Whint', 'Nerve Cell', 'Processor', 'Mutation' (with Aube), 'Electrostatics', 'World As Will', the Xenakis 'Persepolis' remixes and more.... Join you there!

Peter Wullen said...

Peter Wullen said...

I've never known any experimental artist whose untimely passing sent such shockwaves throughout the whole experimental music world. I'm still stunned after more than a month! Anyway, small Zbigniew Karkowski tribute on French university radio Radio Campus ( on Saturday January 25 from 6pm till 8pm. No words. Just sounds. We will play excerpts from 'Whint', 'Nerve Cell', 'Processor', 'Mutation' (with Aube), 'Electrostatics', 'World As Will', the Xenakis 'Persepolis' remixes and more.... Join you there! We will play it LOUD!

Peter Wullen said...

A Sonic Tribute to Zbigniew Karkowski (1958-2013)
Dear friends,
An update on the sound compilation tribute to Zbigniew Karkowski.
As of today, I have already received the contributions from 13 people.
Almost one hundred artists, however, said they’d contribute and many of you
have asked for an extension of the January 31st deadline.
Therefore, the deadline for sending your tracks/pieces has been extended to:
Another additional reason for this extension is that I’ve just received
confirmation that we have found the resources (available only from March)
to make a physical edition of this tribute compilation (most likely a data
DVD with uncompressed audio files, due to the amount of total recorded
This would be through the non-profit “SONM” initiative (Sound Archive of
Experimental Music and Sound Art) I created as few years ago in the
“Puertas de Castilla” Cultural Center in Murcia, Southern Spain:
Some of Zbigniew’s work, which he personally pased on to me, is already in
the archive:
and also –thanks to the contributions of Thomas BW Bailey and Carl Michael
von Hausswolff- also an incipient section/tribute to Zbigniew:
Those resources include being able to send 5 copies of the physical release
to all participating artists. Any distribution of any remaining copies
(SONM is not a label/distributor and is a non-profit organization) will go
into covering some manufacturing+postage expenses. If any profits are made
(unfortunately very unlikely) they will all go to Atsuko Nojiri, partner of
In addtion to this, an online / streaming-only release of the compilation
will also be done in parallel through the SONM Archive website.
With best regards,
Francisco López.

Stefan Karlsson said...

been away from social media and life for awhile i recently heard about the death of Zbigniew. me and Zbigniew started out in göteborg 1983 with the industrial noise band DNA. after a couple of years my nerves could not take it anymore. Zbigniew kept on the good work! so sorry for the loss. RIP

Peter Wullen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Wullen said...

'NO BULLSHIT - A Sonic Tribute to Zbigniew Karkowski (1958-2013)' is ready for release. It's an audio DVD of 5 hours commemorating one of the greatest experimental artists of all times. The piece I sent for the DVD was made together with Korean experimental artist Una Lee and is called 'MUTATIONS'. It was loosely based on 'Mutation', a relatively quiet soundpiece by the late great Japanese sound artist Aube and by Zbigniew Karkowski. They are two giants of noise music who passed away last year. The spoken poem itself is a mashup of parts of Armand Marie Leroy's book 'Mutants : on the form, varieties and errors of the human body'. There will also be an online streaming edition on the SONM archive website soon:

Peter Wullen said...

NO BULLSHIT - A Sonic Tribute to Zbigniew Karkowski (1958-2013)

Peter Wullen said...

Now on Bandcamp:

Peter Wullen said...

A message from Atsuko, Zbigniew's girlfriend about the NO BULLSHIT tribute DVD:

Dear Friends,
Thank you very much for your great pieces and taking a part in this wonderful project.

Zbigniew did live a beautiful NO Bullshit life till the end.
I went to Peru where his body rest in peace in May, and finally found some peace and hope.
He did live his life and did end it in the way he wanted, just NO bullshit, his never changed principle .
I keep asking myself I can do that myself.

Just looking at huge lists of you guys made me feel very proud of Zbigniew that he was loved and remembered by so many wonderful people.
Many of you I've met or in contact, and some, I haven't. But I thank for his gift to leave me so many beautiful people.

Whenever you come to Tokyo, please let me know. I'm very happy to see you all.
I'm planning hopping tour in europe sometime in Sep or Oct to visit his mom. Hope we can see each others then, or some other time.

Lastly, Thank Francisco and Susana to realize this big project very quick.
Very much looking forward to hearing NO BULLSHIT!

Love and Muchas gracious from Tokyo.