The Birdmachine & Michael Pestel
Tokyo’s bird population has declined drastically in the past 75 years. I’m told that’s due primarily to pollution and loss of traditional thatched roofs where many birds nested. Enter the crows, or kurasu, the world’s greatest synathropes, masters of what we do best: produce garbage. There are upwards of 150,000 of them terrorizing the populace with their brilliant antics and survival strategies. It's no wonder that one calls their flock a "murder" of crows. Enter the Birdmachine, a multiphonic, multi-timbrel musical instrument designed to attract and jam with birds, butoh dancers, and anyone else dedicated to avian sound and movement. That includes crows.
From March 17 to April 9, 2015, I'll be in Tokyo performing and jamming with avian butoh dancer, Taketeru Kudo, as well as with vocalist, Mika Kimura, and expatriate shakuhachi players, Yohmei Chris Blasdel and Bruce Huebner, among others. For his April 4th performance at the Tadao Ando Tokyo Art Museum in Sengawa, Chris has invited me and Mika to join him in an unusual acoustic concert space. The performance with Kudosan at Konno Hachimangu, Shibuya's oldest Shinto shrine, on March 22, is the event that set all this in motion. But mostly, I'll be busy exploring the urban soundscape by visiting places where birds used to sing, places where they still sing, and places whose bird names celebrate a particular species. As a kind of shamanic ornithologist bent on discovering the soul of Tokyo's bird life, I'll invoke an avian past of lost sounds in order to connect with the present. I know the crows will be listening!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Day 11, Friday, March 27

Yesterday was the day to rebuild the Birdmachine for portability. It's not perfect, but serviceable and took me the whole day. In the evening went over to Sachiko and Jonathan's. Sachiko is an Orissi dancer. They also invited an American scientist named Dan Sythe who develops high end geiger counters. When he got there, a bit after me, he said "You look familiar." Turned out he'd been watching David Rothenberg's BBC documentary in which I appear a la Birdmachine. Furthermore, David is on Dan's board of trustees for his geiger counter company. Small world. Here's Dan getting "sounded" with Sachiko's magical bowl. And check out my duet with Sachiko after dinner. It's on you tube:

After our duet and a bit of red wine. Check it out on you tube:

Here's Sachiko in full performance mode. 

On the way home, a very different form of enchantment awaited me near the subway entrance.

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