New Release: Kodo “Kaden”
Our new album “Kaden” will be released on Dec. 21 (Wed).
“Kaden” features nine original compositions that were created especially for our four recent “Kodo One Earth Tour” productions directed by Tamasaburo Bando: Legend, Mystery, Eternity, and Chaos. In September, we captured the tracks in the latest high-resolution audio at Sony Music Studios Tokyo.
Each piece was honed on stage through numerous performances, then carefully recorded as a unique work in its own right. Each and every instrument shines with clarity thanks to the studio recording and new high-resolution sound. We look forward to sharing this album with you all.
Kodo Discography | Kaden
Kodo “Kaden” will be on sale from Dec. 21 at Kodo performance venues in Japan and Kodo Online Store.
Artist Name: Kodo
4. Toki no Ma
6. Yogiri – Asayake Gumo
9. Kei Kei
Recorded: Studio recording at Sony Music Studios, Sep. 2016.
Release Date: Dec. 21, 2016
Price: 3,240 yen (tax inc.)
Media Type(s): CD, digital download, audio streaming
Product Code: OD-018
Sales Agency: Otodaiku
Only three weeks remain on our current “Kodo One Earth Tour 2016: Chaos” Japan Tour. This production is a rather experimental performance and I have heard a range of feedback, both positive and negative. So, while it is towards the end of the tour, I thought I would take the time to talk about my feelings towards “Chaos” and share them with you all.
I play the drums, a Western drum kit, in this performance. Do you think I wanted to play the drums?
Well, honestly, I was really reluctant about it! (lol)
I am not sure whether reluctant is the right choice of word, but anyway, from the beginning I had this constant feeling of “We are taiko players, so why are we playing the drums?” That feeling got in my way and it stopped me from getting into our drum rehearsals properly. I was wondering if I should be playing the drums at all and I had a kind of restlessness that wouldn’t go away.
We learned to play the drums little by little, starting our practice about three years before the premiere of “Chaos.” But it took ages for me to be able to feel like, “OK! Let’s do this!” and to really put my all into it.
The biggest change in how I felt came one day during our drum practise. I think it was about six months before “Chaos” premiered. Yosuke Oda, Masayuki Sakamoto and I were side by side pounding the drums furiously. Drummer Tetsuya Kajiwara was yelling out the count for us, “One! Two! Three! Four!,” and we just kept on beating the drums with all our might. The sweat poured off us. We lost ourselves in the drums, just pummelling them relentlessly.
Then, that night after the practice, I noticed for the first time that the air in the rehearsal hall felt the same as when we have been practicing Yatai-bayashi non-stop, which is a traditional Japanese festival taiko piece as well as an iconic Kodo stage piece. It’s also the first thing that all Kodo apprentices learn to play during their training.
After we play Yatai-bayashi non-stop, a faint ringing lingers in our ears and a slight heat and smell of sweat lingers in the air.
When I noticed that sense, I thought: “It’s the same…”
The act of pounding something furiously. Perhaps it is the hunting instinct that lies deep within all human beings. When we face the taiko drum, that overwhelming primal urge to pound it arises from deep inside. It’s not an emotion like anger, it’s an instinct. It’s like a roar within you.
The feeling of your soul stirring and trembling.
At last, I felt that sense, that roar, when I was playing the drums. That roar that emerges when I play taiko.
I am Japanese, I am a taiko player, but this sense is deeper than that. It is part of my identity as a human being.
Well, I’m not really sure which words I should use to express what I’m feeling, but I can say that I felt this sensation intuitively.
So, getting back to the topic, some people see “Chaos” and say, “Why don’t you just play taiko?” Actually, I have always played taiko thinking that it was the right instrument for me.
I think everyone has a set idea about what taiko is, or should be. Not only taiko players, but also our audiences have a set idea about what they expect when they hear the word “taiko.” Taiko is an instrument created by using the trunk of a tree that is centuries old and covering it with animal hides. So it has a lot of life force and history within it. Whether it is on the surface or otherwise, as I said, the person who beats it will feel their soul stir. But I think most people take that for granted and don’t really give it a second thought most of the time.
So for us, beating an instrument for this performance that is not a Japanese taiko drum has led to many new realizations… and questions like these:
If we pound drums with plastic heads… can we convey the same soul stirring roar? Can we move people with our drumming, without the power of our taiko drums?
I think it would be great if we could do the same thing a puppeteer does on stage.
You may look at a puppeteer and think: Why do you use a puppet? You are a human, and humans can express many different emotions and move so fluidly. So you could express yourself better without the puppet.
But by expressing yourself through a puppet, something that is lifeless and inorganic, you are pushed to tap into the essence of your expression to make the puppet come to life so you can convey your intentions to the audience.
So I hope we can do the same thing using drums instead of taiko for this performance. By pounding the drums instead of taiko, I hope that we can tap into the soul and “roar” behind our drumming. I hope that it will become even more apparent to our audiences.
Of course, it’s not all about pummeling the drums like a maniac. By learning to play the drums and practicing hard, I have learned many new things related to music and technique that I would not have felt or discovered if I had continued to only play taiko.
When I perform on stage in “Chaos,” I try to put all these feelings, and everything I have learned through this production, into each performance.
We still have a few performances left on this tour and I really hope you will come along to see this production live on stage. I hope we can stir something deep within our audiences with our drumming, regardless of the instrument.
Thank You for Attending the “Chaos” Tokyo Performances
Thank you very much to everyone who came along to see our “Chaos” performances in Tokyo at the end of last year.
Our concerts at the Bunkyo Civic Center were the last ones of our month-long tour, which started on Sado Island in late November.
In this programme we drum on tires for some pieces. Towards the end of the tour, the covers on the tyres were getting softer so we re-covered them in Tokyo.
These tires are featured as instruments and the new covers gave them a new lease on life. I had to think about their durability while trying to get the sound I wanted from them, so I played the tires by trial and error everyday.
In “Chaos” we play Japanese drums and various other instruments, so we have to consider the best sound to make with each instrument to fit in with the other sounds. This meant we couldn’t just play taiko in our usual manner. Instead, we sometimes mute the reverberations and weave delicate sounds together.
While it was chaotic, somehow it was indeed a feel-good performance for us. There was no plan to create sound in time or make sure you were in time or in sync with someone or something else. So even if someone came along with an unusual element, we would meld together just by feeling and being in that moment.
We want to hear each other’s sound in the best way, so naturally, I feel that we all head towards harmony together.
We gave five performances in a row at Bunkyo Civic Center as the tour finale. Thank you very much for coming. I am truly grateful to have been able to perform in front of so many people everyday.
Special Feature in the Financial Times, UK “Japan’s Kodo drummers”
“Chaos is aptly named, but this is chaos of the most scrupulously organised kind. It is an exhilarating performance that leaves both drummers and audience breathless and a reminder that there is simply no substitute for the visceral thrill of experiencing the powerful cumulative resonance of these drums played in person.”
“Chaos” will tour throughout Japan in June and July 2016. Details will be announced on our website in early February.
Final 2015 Performance of “Chaos”
On Dec. 23 we welcomed a large audience to our last performance of “Chaos” for 2015.
Actor Yohji Tanaka came along to see our performance! Here he is with a few of the cast members after the concert.
Kodo provided part of the soundtrack to Yohji Tanaka’s latest short movie.
See here for details: http://kodo.or.jp/blog_en/news/20151117_3878.html
Impressions of “Kodo One Earth Tour: Chaos”
Review by Kyoko Honma ● Photos by Takashi Okamoto
I used to spend my days going to concert halls and live houses all over Tokyo. Without a doubt, the rock performances were the most explosive.
Guitar, bass, and drums.
I saw countless bands featuring these three instruments with vocals. The drummer and bass player are usually the rhythm section of each band, so if the drums go off beat, they cannot play the rhythm as one.
When I closed my eyes to feel the rhythm, for some reason
onidaiko (demon drumming from Sado Island) would come to mind. It was sort of like a strange déjà vu about the folk arts on Sado.
I found the reason for that phenomenon when I saw Kodo’s “Chaos” performance.
There were three drum kits on stage. Three drummers played the drums, each in their own way, and I got goosebumps each time. There is a universality within the action of beating a rhythm and each powerful beat resonates throughout your soul. So any sound created on earth comes from the same place. This also rang true for the flutes, timpani, and harps that were featured in the “Chaos” performance. I heard sound only that person could create, that I could only encounter in that moment. It is significant that the Kodo performers gave this performance without collaborating with other artists.
The audience responded with echoing applause.
I floated over an invisible wall of preconceptions and really enjoyed the sound. Centered around percussion, “Chaos” also incorporates string instruments, wind instruments, vocals, handmade instruments…anything and everything!
I am excited by the fascinating possibilities Kodo, the ultimate “band,” has shown with this production.
Ms. Kyoko Honma is the daughter of Mr. Masahiko Honma, a teacher and advisor to Kodo since the founding of its antecedent group Sado no Kuni Ondekoza. Ms. Honma attended the premiere performance of “Chaos” on Sado Island on Nov. 23, 2015.
Premiere Tour Throughout Japan
Dec. 3, 2015
“Chaos” in Niigata Today
Today we have our Niigata performance of “Chaos”! The first time I ever saw a Kodo performance was here at the Niigata Prefecture Civic Center. I hope everyone who comes along to see us today in Niigata thoroughly enjoys our performance! We are waiting for you all at the theater!
Premiere Tour Throughout Japan
Opening Performance of New Production “Chaos”
After four years of ideas and creation, at long last we held the premiere of “Chaos.” The first performance here on Sado Island, where Kodo is based, precedes a nationwide tour with this new work. On Sado, there are many people who have watched Kodo for decades since the very beginning, so when we present new programmes here we are nervous to see if they will be accepting of our latest work. We set up in the theater, add lighting to the new production, and welcome its first audience. I have come to realize that as the performance begins, I find myself thinking about the next production as I watch it. I wonder how far we can broaden the scope of the Kodo group. When I think about the possibilities, I get excited and know I will lose sleep for days with that on my mind.
Tetsuya Kajiwara’s Lecture on Drums
Tetsuya Kajiwara, the drum supervisor for our upcoming “Chaos” production, gave our performers a lecture about drums in the rehearsal hall yesterday.
He taught them how he set up the drums when he played with his former band, “The Blue Hearts,” and the members learned how to handle the various parts. This knowledge will help them throughout the “Chaos” performances.
Our opening night on Sado Island is approaching quickly!
Nov. 1. 2015
From Fall into Winter: Kodo in November
Hello everyone. I hope that you are all well. This is Tomohiro Mitome, leader of taiko performing arts ensemble Kodo.
November has just begun, yet it’s already remarkably cold here on Sado Island.
On October 18, we gave our final performance of “Kodo One Earth Tour: Eternity,” which premiered in November 2014 and toured throughout the past year. This was the third production directed by Tamasaburo Bando since he became our artistic director in 2012. “Eternity” has such a profound title and theme and was created entirely from brand new compositions. For Kodo, this work was full of new challenges in musical and stage expression, which led us to new depths and heights on stage.
Meanwhile, in Canada another cast of Kodo members took part in the contemporary ballet production “Kaguyahime” in October. Every performance received such a wonderful, excited response from its audience. Kodo throughly enjoyed taking part in this collaboration again and week by week, our performers deepened their connection with the dancers, Gagaku musicians, and percussionists. We are truly grateful for this experience.
Our Kaguyahime cast members also found time between the ballet performances to present Kodo’s first ever School Workshop Performances abroad. It was a very good experience for both sides: many children in Montreal had the chance to experience the sound and vibrations of taiko for the first time and our members got to try speaking French for the first time to deliver their self introductions to the audience.
Speaking of performances abroad, we also held “DADAN 2015” performances at the end of October in Hong Kong, and in November a small Kodo ensemble will head to Bali, Indonesia, for collaborations with EC 2015 guest artist Suar Agung. It’s the first time in 29 years for Kodo to visit both Hong Kong and Bali, so in both cases it’s the first time for all the cast members to visit these places with Kodo. I’m sure the performers will be inspired by these new places & experiences. We look forward to sharing stories and news from our travels with you through this blog, so please stay tuned for updates.
Also, this November I’ll return to Ise in Mie Prefecture with Kodo for a taiko festival at the Ise Grand Shrine called “13th Shinon Kansha Nihon Taiko Matsuri.” Kodo performed at this event last year, too. This exciting two-day event draws amazing performance groups from all over Japan and such an enthusiastic crowd.
Futhermore, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Kodo Apprentice Centre’s relocation to its current premises: the former Iwakubi Junior High School premises in Kakinoura on Sado Island. Every year in early November the apprentices plan and hold their own “Harvest Festival” and this year they are having a “Great Harvest Festival,” which will be a huge celebration. Kodo Apprentice Centre alumni and Kodo members will come along to perform and enjoy a freshly harvested feast together. This festival is our way of saying thanks to the locals in the Kakinoura and Iwakubi area for their constant kindness. Since all Kodo members and many Kodo staff members pass through the Apprentice Centre, the festival is always a great reunion for Kodo and the locals near the Centre. I am truly looking forward to the Great Harvest Festival that celebrates this milestone year.
Last but not least, on Nov. 23 “Kodo One Earth Tour: Chaos,” the latest production directed by our artistic director Tamasaburo Bando, will premiere on Sado Island.
Sounds of the West, the East, and Japan will create a world of chaos and harmony as they entwine and disperse. This new work is based upon bolder, more liberated ideas than ever before for a Kodo performance.
Kodo 35th Anniversary Production “Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Chaos”
Watch on YouTube▶https://youtu.be/qGCmnpbdRHo
Our next production directed by Artistic Director Tamasaburo Bando, “Kodo One Earth Tour 2015: Chaos,” will premiere in November 2015.
This performance promises to share brand new forms of taiko music through a daring, liberating concept that incorporates drum kits and even taiko drums made from tires.
The debut tour will begin on Sado Island before visiting Fukui, Toyama, Niigata, Osaka, Hiroshima, Fukuoka, Okayama, Aichi, Kanagawa, and Tokyo.
For further details, please visit our website.