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!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Day 14, Monday, March 30 – Konno Hachimangu Photos

Here's part of my solo when Kudo left the stage for a costume and makeup change. Joni has the Tasmanian Ridgeback, a natural born lion killer, securely leashed in hand and I'm about to put my little Yamaha guitar amp into overdrive.

video

Joni emailed these photos of the Konno Hachimangu performance the other day. They're pretty good, and may have to do for now, since the video from Yuki's antiquated JVC needs to be reformatted to a codec iMovie can read. For now the sound coming out of that remarkable Yamaha amp slung around my shoulder shall remain mute in the face of Kudo's visual splendor. In the meantime, definitely need a hat, a haircut, and a shave... in no particular order! 











Joni's dog and Joni were very much a part of the action. As Kudo says, "Tokyo without Joni would be a very boring place!" 





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