All arrangements by Kodo and Isao Tomita
Isao Tomita Appears Through the Courtesy of BMG Music
English Translation: Kaoru Sakurai
Digital Recording, July-October 1994 at Sony Music Shinanomachi Studio, Plasma Music Studio, Tokyo, Japan
Produced by Ke-ichi Nakamura
Engineer: Yoshihiro Suzuki
Second Engineers: Motonori Sasaki, Haruna Takahashi
Mastering Engineers: Mitsuru Kasai, Shingo Miyata
Art Direction and Design: Koichi Honda
Photography: Masakazu Sakomizu, Kodo
Production Service: Miki Jyono
Management: Takao Aoki, Taro Nishita (Kodo)
Kodo: 148-1 Kanetashiden, Ogi, Sado Island, Nigata, Japan 952-06
This is Kodo's 8th album, inspired by the Nasca drawings of Peru and recorded with Isao Tomita and Kusillaqta
For this album we have also used new recording techniques to make the music more enjoyable on personal stereo systems. However, the best way to listen to these pieces is on a home system with the volume turned up as high as you can manage.
Although Isao Tomita is best known for his serious performances such as 'The Planets' and 'Tableaux d'une Exposition' this album contains some light-hearted touches such as 'El Humahuaqueno' and 'Pulsar' which we think are as fine as anything he has done. We hope you will enjoy this music.
- Motofumi Yamaguchi (Kodo)
About the Album - the Background
In early April this year, Kodo invited me to stay at Kodo Village on Sado Island. I stayed there for a week at Izumi Guest House and all worked on the music for the new album. What I tried first was to keep my mind completely open to align with Kodo's intentions. Yet soon, ideas started to spring out of my mind as I spent some time with Kodo; I was totally enchanted by the exquisite world of rhythm that Kodo creates. Japanese traditional drums, 'wa-daiko,' have been used in Shinto rituals since ancient times, and its sound evokes the sound of earth, and to a broader extent, the sound of the universe.
It was quite convenient for me that I only had to walk for a few minutes to get to Kodo's studio from the guest house. Whenever I came up with new rhythm pattems, we could quickly get to play them.
Kodo Village itself is a beautiful place. It is not just their presence of music, but the entire village life of how they behave which creates an intimate community atmosphere.
The time I spent at the guest house was fabulous. With no TV sets or radios, there was not much to do after the 7:30 supper, and I would soon go to bed. But I was always awakened by sounds in the attic around 1:00 in the moming - perhaps there were sables or snakes playing there. I felt as if I were Gorsh, the cello player from Kenji Miyazawa's popular children's story, who played music to animals, and it made me very cheerful.
The house seemed to be a unique imaginary world. Outside the house were numerous stars twinkling in the sky and the fog from the sea wrapped me gently and drifted off over the mountains. Then I would read the morning papers of news on outer space; articles of Chiaki Mukai orbiting the earth or a string of comets colliding with Jupiter inspiring me to compose music for this album.
Kodo's music is generally composed of the rhythm from the drums and usually harmony does not exist within their music. Kodo's musical style is exotic in the way that it excludes European harmony. I was a little nervous how my music would come out with Kodo, for my musical images are always accompanied by a certain harmony. We were all content with the outcome; I feel my harmonies on synthesizer with Kodo's music has succeeded in capturing the universe.
Kusillaqta from Peru joined us with quena and zampona for this album. When I travelled around Peru, Lima, Nasca, Cuzco and Machupicchu, I got on a mountain trolley and heard the Indio-flute echoing through the Andes. The flute echoed in a mystical manner showing a linear pattern reaching out to the outer space.
Standing on the Nasca drawings, I felt the tremendous power of the universe. The drawings are made of straight lines and zones in the vast Nasca plain - we have no idea for what purpose they had been constructed, but surely they had some kind of connection with the universe. I think that we were able to express that mystical impression by adding the pure, crystal sound of quena in this album.
I believe that some time in the 21st century, the time will come when the human race will migrate to space colonies with unpolluted rivers, mountains and fields. All living creatures, birds and insects, Peruvians and Japanese, and perhaps children from other planets will be able to live together where Kodo could perform in a concert. This is the overall image of the album, so I tried to make the synthesizer part more natural and soothing, rather than making them sound techno-pop. Kodo has established a musical style of their own, just as my music reflects its own unique character. Somehow on this album, by combining two distinctive musics, we were able to create one body of work, full of originality in which I feel a certain confidence.
- Isao Tomita
Gigantic Geometric Patterns
This track was written in the memory of the Nasca drawings, huge straight lines and zones on the vast Nasca Plain in Peru. One theory is that the mysterious ten-kilometer line was used as a runway for spaceships. This is the fantasy of Nasca with typical comic images of ancient UFOs flying out to space.
Song of the Universe
Chiaki Mukai (astronaut) talked about how the sun emerged from the shadow of the earth. The evolutionary process of the protozoa moving on to land from the sea relates to the humans trying to migrate into space from the earth. In the space shuttle, healthy killifish were born in a zero gravity, which demonstrates that living creatures can adapt to an alien environment. I tried to express the dream of a new era when all life on earth can coexist peacefully in space colonies.
Kodo is performing in a space colony joined by the Peruvian artists. This music is for a feast, with the sounds of a Japanese festival, Nebuta rhythm from Aomori prifecture combined with the flavor of Latin America.
City Under the Desert
This music is written with the images of the prosperous Incan Empire now buried under the Peruvian Plain, the story of which I heard about and learned from books. In the beginning, you hear the quena playing a Spanish melody and then it changes to an old Indio melody as if the Incan town appears like an illusion. Afterwards, the tune returns to the Spanish melody; the idea is similar to Debussy's "La Cathedrale Engloutie".
Dansa from "Bachianas Brasileiras No.2"
Farmers are celebrating a good harvest in a jolly mood. The melody somewhat shares a local taste, and is taken from "Bachianas Brasileiras No.2" by Villa-Lobos.
Echoes from the Andes
In Japan, we have the folk tale of 'Kaguyahime', a heavenly maid, and in Australia there is an Aboriginal legend of a man who brings down fire from the sky. This music was written by imagining a dialogue between the universe and earth which I envisioned during the concert we did with Kodo at Sennyuji Temple (September 10th, 1994). The music begins with the sound of the drums through the forest, a light appears further beyond the mountains accompanied by the flute melody. Then the drums beat once more and the flute joins in. In this way, a dialogue starts between the sky and earth and their music mingles. This dialogue is commonly heard in our ordinary life, such as a prayer for the rain or celestial nymph legends.
The pulses you hear on this track are from the Vela constellation in the Southern hemisphere which bleeps eleven times per second. This is a warning from the pulsar to the earth faced with destruction, however the pulses keep going no matter how the earth changes. The pulsar is heard in the beginning and soon small animals and insects start to sing along. Their chorus is suddenly stopped by the noise of reckless driving and cans thrown away on the ground. In the end, a great explosion blasts off; the chorus dies out and there remains only the cries of a drunken man. All the while, the pulsar continues to shine brightly up in the sky.
I tried to unify the rhythm of Kodo and the techno sound of computer music on this track. It is something that occurs in a straight, linear movement in the universe. For example, the Tungus incident in Siberia. During the Russian Revolution, it is said that a very bright light appeared with blaring noise for three days. There was no evidence of the light source; perhaps some plasma caused this to happen, a tiny object falling on the earth and going right through it, its strong force plowing through everything that comes in its way.
- Isao Tomita