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!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Day 25, Thursday, April 9 – Noko's Edo House in Izu

Here, in the land of the rising Birdmachine, it's my last morning in Tokyo.
Up and atom. Packing and last minute scurrying. Kudo will help me get my stuff to the airport. Big help. Yesterday, despite the rain and cold, was a perfect way of rounding out the three weeks. After a day trip to the Izu Peninsula (four hour round trip with Chris and Mika) and a visit to Noko's 200 year old Edo house with a thick bamboo forest, I met Kudo in Shinjuku at 9pm and went on a "nagashi" spree through Golden Gai. 

Noko's 200 year old Edo period house.

Mika, Noko and Noko's husband

 Colors meets Hotai, the Chinese god of good fortune... and somebody who looks like Snoopy!

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