▶ 240 step sequencer!? via
▶ furniture envy for… your cat? via
▶ its not often a musician gives birth to a meme
▶ When did music journalism stop wielding the axe? (thanks Jim)
▶ respect to Colin Benders for (a) doing this challenge and (b) replying honestly to lame YT commenter who clearly does not know what he does not know
Once you are old/experienced enough to have travelled a bit (those two are not mutually exclusive) I/maybe you tend to reflect on what circumstances lead to the best discoveries and experiences… Sometimes the best things are carefully planned, scheduled & booked and sometimes they are completely random… But one circumstance I have repeatedly found productive is to be on the way from A to B, deliberately, but with a flexi timeframe… Under these circumstances great, unexpected things become possible. I would also add, most likely you need to be on your own, slightly hungover but optimistic… an ‘anything is possible’ frame of mind. Difficult to frabricate, but when you feel it you know it!
Last night I formed a vague plan: go to Kyoto to visit an exhibition (kinetic art utilising ferrofluids, so the odds for a great day are already looking great!) and then revisit a temple I love & blow a few rolls of film…
These two events could be achieved in 2.5 hours, but I allowed half a day. Plenty of time to wander, get lost, hail a taxi, get dropped off, get lost again etc etc…
And so this morning I caught the Hankyu train to Umeda, and then switched to the Kyoto line. Arrived to Kawaramachi Station, got my google maps trajectory sorted after walking half a block in the wrong direction and eventually started walking through back alleys in the direction of the art gallery where the ferrofluids were doing their thing… The path eventually involved walking through covered shopping malls, at which point I started to zone out…
I noticed the window display of this shop but didn’t stop until about 100m later… then turned around and went back – what was that over size acoustic guitar/bass??
Wandered into the store & started drooling… it is so rare to be able to see AND hear such a huge range of instruments, many times I’ve had to just take a punt based on a photo & some faith….
And so great to see traditional Japanese instruments, actually available for purchase!
A few things caught my eye/ear: this small granite xylophone, and the tongue drum beside it…
I really loved the dull tone of the wooden tongue drum, but then noticed these tuned stones on the floor
And what the hell are these things? (some kind of african pod rattlers?)
But most of all, my ear was drawn to the shelves of temple bells/singing bowls
The absence above the biggest coloured ring is where the singing bowl I bought usually resides… it instantly reminded me of a Japanese temple gong/bell, but apparently mine is actually from Nepal. And OMG it resonates like a mofo!
I never took a photo of them but they had a huge collection of kalimbras….
And other stuff… (damn those big/shallow frame drums sounded great!!)
Lastly, a photo of the owner, Koizumi Masakai, adding up the 10kg of resonant metal I ended up choosing… He was super helpful, and we both spoke just enough of each others languages to easily discuss our shared love of the universal language of music.
Here is the card for his store, which has the address and site address
I checked their website and it seems they are happy to ship internationally, and given how amazingly affordable, inexpensive & super efficient Japan EMS shipping is, I think I will be ordering more…
And revisiting next time I come to Japan.
Arigatou Masaki san
website link: KOIZUMI_GAKKI
google maps link: MAP LINK
Heading back to Tokyo tomorrow to attend a screening of the original 1954 Godzilla film, with a live orchestral score!! Its occurring as a part of Tokyo International Film Festival performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Kaoru Wada
This is not a review, as that requires some kind of critical analysis which I dont really have any interest in… But I would like to share a little of what the experience was like, as it transcended any description and it was also very different than listening to the preview below…
I’ve experienced a number of works by Ryoji Ikeda over the years, from gallery installations to live concerts to a screening at Kyoto Experiment a few years ago… While his oeuvre is well defined, and often includes extremes (volume, frequency, minimalism) the idea of experiencing his first works written for percussion intrigued me enough to book my tickets for Japan – what form could such work take? And would/could it be as extreme as the screening & concert which were so loud as to resonate my internal organs…
The large theatre was packed, I would estimate an audience of 1,200 people and eventually the doors were closed and as the lights dimmed, the audience settled to a collective state of anticipation…
After a few minutes of near darkness the stage lights came up as two guys walked out on to the stage, which was empty except for two seats. They sat down, settled, and began:
Body Music [for duo], op.4 (2016): I
Body Music [for duo], op.4 (2016): II
Body Music [for duo], op.4 (2016): III
What the low resolution stream of these recordings does not reveal is the beautiful acoustic and spatialisation, of two extraordinary percussionists creating an exquisite interplay of sound and rhythm, hocketing and at times almost phasing in their accuracy and timing. Each piece was enthralling, the audience practically held their breath and joining the rapturous applause after each piece felt strange, in the sense of it being a prolonged call & response with the actual performance.
Some parts of these pieces reminded me of Arvo Parts work, for example Sarah Was Ninety Years Old and I slowly developed a desire to actually see the shifting patterns and waveforms, so as to analyse and verify my theories as to their construction… Accordingly I ordered the vinyl from the Vinyl Factory
Next the concert moved on to the Metal Music pieces:
Metal Music, op.5 (2016): I. triangles [for duo]
Metal Music, op.5 (2016): II. crotales [for duo]
Metal Music, op.5 (2016): III. cymbals [for quartet]
All three of these pieces originated in a form of pointillism: single, discrete very quiet gestures slowly rising in power created a transition between the senses. At times you could clearly see percussionists striking their instruments, but starting from very soft, gentle gestures that were initially inaudible.
The almost granular textures created a kind of dream state in me, especially the start of the cymbal piece was so evocative and the piece as a whole felt like a perfect metaphor for Ikedas work, as an ever evolving texture that via constraint refused to crescendo, until the dramatic transition to the ending…
Overall a truly fantastic experience – beautiful concepts and ideas by Ryoji Ikeda powerfully executed with poetic restraint by Eklekto Percussionists: Alexandre Babel, Stéphane Garin, Lucas Genas and Dorian Fretto.
I won’t be listening to the stream again, it is a perfect example of how data compression diminishes the true power of music. Next time I hear this will be ex vinyl!