March 30th, 2008



I'm increasingly interested in the idea of mesmerism -- not so much in mesmerising others as being mesmerised myself. There's a particular sensation I get that only happens under certain conditions. It has to be a live performance, it has to be fairly unpredictable, I have to be intrigued and in some way charmed by the performance. Then certain trancelike sounds and images, atmospheres and lights, put my mind into a kind of waking-sleeping state. I'm somehow ultra-receptive, awake and asleep at the same time, lulled and stimulated.

The music shouldn't be too loud or too thick. Rock music is thick -- too many instruments are playing at the same time, attempting full sonic-spectrum dominance ("What do we have in the high frequency area, Jim? Hi-hats? We need everything covered.") The kind of music that entrances and mesmerises me is ideally live and acoustic, ancient-sounding, unpredictable and unexpected. I like to see the human movements that produce it. I like the feeling that it's only audible in the room where it's being made, and only last as long as it lasts. I'm thinking of Akio Suzuki, or Bernhard Gal, or, last night, Yurie Ido's performance (with visuals by Atsuhiko Sudo and excellent, austere, disturbing music by Kasuga Nakamatsu) at Galerie Weissenseer Freitag. Here's a video glimpse (you can see other Ido performances on her YouTube page:

There was gravitas and a Yoko Ono-like edge to some of Ido-San's singing and shouting last night, but the mesmeric power was held throughout by the mysterious textures of single instruments -- mainly the weird and mournful gagaku sounds of Nakamatsu's hichiriki, a sort of ancient sliding reed pipe. Ido-San seemed to be performing invented rituals from a parallel ancient Japan, mixing sand in a bowl, making calligraphic signs, walking with a railway lantern, while, behind, Sudo's video images responded to the live music and Ido's movements with Vassarely-like patterns, elemental images of fire and water, visual puzzles, live images of Ido. The mesmeric power persisted even when an annoying tramp talked loudly through the whole performance and threw up a bellyful of red wine onto the sand floor of the gallery.

Afterwards, the Japanese bubble drifted down to Neukolln, where there was a party at Daisuke Ishida's place on Lenaustraße. Here I met Aoki Takamasa, whose collaboration with Tujiko Noriko, 28, I was raving about back in 2005, calling it "singing vagina music".

Aoki (a veteran of techno band Silicom) is staying at Ryuichi Sakamoto's place on the Linienstraße in Mitte until he finds his own place. He's working on his next album, which will be released on Sakamoto's new label (through Avex), Commmons. Aoki has also just finished working on the sound and music for Tujiko Noriko's new film -- her follow-up to Sand and Mini-Hawaii. In this new film, the sun gets a little larger than before, forcing global mass migration. The film's heroine is a Vietnamese girl who moves to Paris. The film runs about 70 minutes, and the ending is part happy, part sad.

Aoki particularly enjoyed working on the non-musical location sounds, and remixing them. But, for him, the division between music and non-music isn't a clear one: his favourite "music", he tells me, is the sound of Formula 1 racing.