Ché-SHIZU is an improv-folk group led by Chie Mukai (向井千恵) and a shifting cast of musicians that has included Tori Kudo (Maher Shalal Hash Baz), Masami Tada, Masami Shinoda, Yuriko Mukojima, and Ikuro Takahashi among others. Chie Mukai got her start in experimental improvised performance in 1975, when she and other students of Fluxus violinist-composer Takehisa Kosugi at the Bigakko Art School of Tokyo convened as the East Bionic Symphonia. The group featured a combination of recontextualized folk instruments and electronics in spontaneous action, a motif that continues to occur in Mukai’s musical philosophy to this day. Mukai started Ché-SHIZU in 1981, and the group released their debut LP I Can’t Promise in 1984 on Zero Records. Ché-SHIZU’s music embraces simplicity in their compositions, led by the melodies of Mukai’s voice and erhu. The group’s naivist leanings result in a music that is lyrical, compelling, and endearingly unpolished.
Early on Chie Mukai became active within the avant-garde movement flowering in Tokyo during the mid-1970s. She studied with renowned Fluxus composer and violinist Takehisa Kosugi, recalling, "that encounter was so huge for me, much more than any one technique. Even in terms of the er-hu, I only started playing it because Kosugi gave it to me." In 1975 she joined his East Bionic Symphonia, a large improvising ensemble featuring students from Tokyo's Bigakko art school. From there she contributed to improvising avant-garde groups including an early version of Marginal Consort and later the Vedda Music Workshop.