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February 2010
Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 12:13 pm

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.


Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 10:32 am (UTC)

This tramp - what did he look like?

Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 10:42 am (UTC)

Dreadlocks, raincoat, wine bottle. Actually, in the video his mumbling sounds pretty good. I found if I imagined it was all part of the performance it was fine -- until he started vomiting up the red wine.

Ido-San, though, was not very amused to have this guy giving a speech while she was performing.

(By the way, I know you're now going to come back with about twenty comments telling me that I'm the tramp, really, but we'll just have to imagine those, because I'm turning on screening for the day.)

ReplyThread Parent
Palimpsests of a Secret Whistler
Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 11:09 pm (UTC)

I'm glad to see you turn on screening. I can only imagine how annoying the Anonymous Chorus was to you, since it annoyed the bejeezus out of me.

ReplyThread Parent
For anything, oh! she´ll bust her elastic
Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 10:36 am (UTC)
Animal magnetism!

Finally, something I know about.


(no subject) - (Anonymous)
Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 01:56 pm (UTC)

Ha, that's funny, I rent these kabuki DVDs from my local library and watch them with that commentary voice on. I don't mind it.

ReplyThread Parent
Mistress Hellena
Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 01:35 pm (UTC)

I was interested to hear what gave you that mesmeric quality. I tend to agree with it when I see work. The most astounding moments for me seem to be the simplest, even in this "intermedia" performance (I kinda hate that word, but it's useful.) The moments where there was just performer, live camera feeding back on its own projection, and lone instrument = best parts to me.

Wish we could bottle that quiet energy and take a sip of it once in a while to remind us what it feels like. Or is it better because we don't know when we'll stumble across it?

Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 03:48 pm (UTC)
sound of Formula 1

Domo for the interesting journeys.
In Italy the owners children's initials where formed into the hedges and there is quite a horticultural movement to preserve their history.

You can always hear the cars warming up sometimes to
20 km.

I'll stick with temple bells and the sound of whales.

Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)

Hypnogogia? Entrainment? Attunement? Landing back on your home planet?


Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 04:10 pm (UTC)
geniuses mesmerising people

Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 09:58 pm (UTC)
at the back of the north wind

His mother did not speak much during their dinner. After it was over she helped him to walk about a little, but he was not able for much and soon got tired. He did not get fretful, though. He was too glad of having the sun and the wind again, to fret because he could not run about. He lay down on the dry sand, and his mother covered him with a shawl. She then sat by his side, and took a bit of work from her pocket. But Diamond felt rather sleepy, and turned on his side and gazed sleepily over the sand. A few yards off he saw something fluttering.

"What is that, mother?" he said.

"Only a bit of paper," she answered.

"It flutters more than a bit of paper would, I think," said Diamond.

"I'll go and see if you like," said his mother. "My eyes are none of the best."

So she rose and went and found that they were both right, for it was a little book, partly buried in the sand. But several of its leaves were clear of the sand, and these the wind kept blowing about in a very flutterful manner. She took it up and brought it to Diamond.

"What is it, mother?" he asked.

"Some nursery rhymes, I think," she answered.

"I'm too sleepy," said Diamond. "Do read some of them to me."

"Yes, I will," she said, and began one.---"But this is such nonsense!" she said again. "I will try to find a better one."

She turned the leaves searching, but three times, with sudden puffs, the wind blew the leaves rustling back to the same verses.

"Do read that one," said Diamond, who seemed to be of the same mind as the wind. "It sounded very nice. I am sure it is a good one."

So his mother thought it might amuse him, though she couldn't find any sense in it. She never thought he might understand it, although she could not.

Now I do not exactly know what the mother read, but this is what Diamond heard, or thought afterwards that he had heard. He was, however, as I have said, very sleepy. and when he thought he understood the verses he may have been only dreaming better ones. This is how they went---

Sun, Mar. 30th, 2008 09:59 pm (UTC)
I know a river

I know a river
whose waters run asleep
run run ever
singing in the shallows
dumb in the hollows
sleeping so deep
and all the swallows
that dip their feathers
in the hollows
or in the shallows
are the merriest swallows of all
for the nests they bake
with the clay they cake
with the water they shake
from their wings that rake
the water out of the shallows
or the hollows
will hold together
in any weather
and so the swallows
are the merriest fellows
and have the merriest children
and are built so narrow
like the head of an arrow
to cut the air
and go just where
the nicest water is flowing
and the nicest dust is blowing
for each so narrow
like head of an arrow
is only a barrow
to carry the mud he makes
from the nicest water flowing
and the nicest dust that is blowing
to build his nest
for her he loves best
with the nicest cakes
which the sunshine bakes
all for their merry children
all so callow
with beaks that follow
gaping and hollow
wider and wider
after their father
or after their mother
the food-provider
who brings them a spider
or a worm the poor hider
down in the earth
so there's no dearth
for their beaks as yellow
as the buttercups growing
beside the flowing
of the singing river
always and ever
growing and blowing
for fast as the sheep
awake or asleep
crop them and crop them
they cannot stop them
but up they creep
and on they go blowing
and so with the daisies
the little white praises
they grow and they blow
and they spread out their crown
and they praise the sun
and when he goes down
their praising is done
and they fold up their crown
and they sleep every one
till over the plain
he's shining amain
and they're at it again
praising and praising
such low songs raising
that no one hears them
but the sun who rears them
and the sheep that bite them
are the quietest sheep
awake or asleep
with the merriest bleat
and the little lambs
are the merriest lambs
they forget to eat
for the frolic in their feet
and the lambs and their dams
are the whitest sheep
with the woolliest wool
and the longest wool
and the trailingest tails
and they shine like snow
in the grasses that grow
by the singing river
that sings for ever
and the sheep and the lambs
are merry for ever
because the river
sings and they drink it
and the lambs and their dams
are quiet
and white
because of their diet
for what they bite
is buttercups yellow
and daisies white
and grass as green
as the river can make it
with wind as mellow
to kiss it and shake it.
as never was seen
but here in the hollows
beside the river
where all the swallows
are merriest of fellows
for the nests they make
with the clay they cake
in the sunshine bake
till they are like bone
as dry in the wind
as a marble stone
so firm they bind
the grass in the clay
that dries in the wind
the sweetest wind
that blows by the river
flowing for ever
but never you find
whence comes the wind
that blows on the hollows
and over the shallows
where dip the swallows
alive it blows
the life as it goes
awake or asleep
into the river
that sings as it flows
and the life it blows
into the sheep
awake or asleep
with the woolliest wool
and the trailingest tails
and it never fails
gentle and cool
to wave the wool
and to toss the grass
as the lambs and the sheep
over it pass
and tug and bite
with their teeth so white
and then with the sweep
of their trailing tails
smooth it again
and it grows amain
and amain it grows
and the wind as it blows
tosses the swallows
over the hollows
and down on the shallows
till every feather
doth shake and quiver
and all their feathers
go all together
blowing the life
and the joy so rife
into the swallows
that skim the shallows
and have the yellowest children
for the wind that blows
is the life of the river
flowing for ever
that washes the grasses
still as it passes
and feeds the daisies
the little white praises
and buttercups bonny
so golden and sunny
with butter and honey
that whiten the sheep
awake or asleep
that nibble and bite
and grow whiter than white
and merry and quiet
on the sweet diet
fed by the river
and tossed for ever
by the wind that tosses
the swallow that crosses
over the shallows
dipping his wings
to gather the water
and bake the cake

George MacDonald

Mon, Mar. 31st, 2008 04:00 am (UTC)
Re: I know a river

You know what anon? I don't really mind the threatening, rambling emails, but why are they screened? How many layers of anonymity must you hide behind? Were you not loved as a child? Unlucky with women? Raised by wolves? Tiny penis? What is it my brother? Come, sit, tell uncle_vronsky what is bothering you.

ReplyThread Parent
Mon, Mar. 31st, 2008 07:40 am (UTC)
Re: I know a river

Wow. Interesting things happen when anons are screened. He has just sent me another weird, rambling email, but this one professes his undying love for me. "I pick on ya cause I love you vrosky, I wake up at night thinking you and me. all time want to sex you always. You hung bigger. I wish you were here. i am so lonely at times like now. I sorry i mean, it hides my love. You better than nick. Please don't be mean back it hurt me inside. I would do anything for you my one true love think of you all the time and how happy we be. I lonely alcoholic and you are my rare treat. I bet you way handsome [true] I kiss you vronsky. I kiss you in my dream..." (more weirdness and much dirtier talk follows, some not fit to repeat in polite company)

Sounds like a lovely dream anon, but i'm afraid I'm out of your liga.

ReplyThread Parent

Mon, Mar. 31st, 2008 06:58 am (UTC)

Ah, I thought for a moment this was going to be about followers of Mesmer.
Such as in Kiyoshi Kurosawa's fantastic film "cure"