Overheard in the East
Tokyo Chill // 2010-2106 24.10.13
overheard in the east
With fewer than 70 years between the end of feudalism in Japan and the country's involvement in World War II Japan has had to adapt to widespread social & technological change more rapidly than arguably any culture in history. The speed of this cultural transformation has led to Japan concerning itself far more than other post-industrial nations with protecting the customs of its rural past, so as not to lose touch with its unique spiritual identity in the deluge of worldwide urban materialism. Nowhere in Japan is the attempt to align these forces more evident than in Tokyo, where Zen gardens brush against the sides of skyscrapers.
It is no coincidence that the greatest film produced during the Allied occupation of Japan, Ozu's 'Late Spring,' has as its central theme the tension between Japanese tradition and Western modernity.
Since Ozu, many artists of Japan have devoted themselves to exploring the delicate balance between their formerly-isolated agrarian heritage and the increasingly globalised metropolitan future, and the ramifications of this sudden shift on the individual.
The musicians featured in tonight's show address these concerns utilising field recordings and found sounds to explore the cultural tension between past and present and the experience of the human being living in the largest urban centre on earth. Tim Gerwing uses his Chikatetsu recordings to suggest both the fleeting intense joys & profound loneliness of being a stranger in a foreign metropolis. Cuushe, likewise, employs harsh industrial sounds to evoke the isolation which is paradoxically experienced when you feel lost & alone in a city, while being surrounded by millions of people who also want to be found (cheers Coppola). Haruka Nakamura, however, makes use of similar transport-based sounds but combines these with recordings of conversations & children's laughter to create atmospheres not of alienation but of nostalgia and joy. And Michita, implementing field recordings again differently, intersperses his hip hop with birdsong and river sounds, demonstrating that even in a globalised consumer culture where Japanese artists create innovative work using Western music styles, the natural world is always present.
Taken together, the numerous different choices & applications of field recordings show that in Tokyo there are as many stories as there are people.
Posted at 18:17, 24th October 2013
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