Photo by Kenta KUMEI
An audiovisual mashup
“Sunday Sessions” in the Red Marquee happen every year on the last night of the festival from around 11pm. It’s a showcase for interesting or experimental Japanese music that is powerful enough to appeal to a potentially very large audience. In the past few years, I’ve been blown away by several of these acts, the drag queen metal band Ziyoou-vachi (女王蜂), the 14-piece funk band that dressed as shrimps The Drowned Shrimp, and blistering electro-rockers Mop of Head.
This year “Sunday Sessions” were opened by Videotapemusic, a group that puts together synchronized audiovisual performances, usually in collaboration with other musicians or bands. They’re also known for producing music videos. Every song in the performance has unique visuals. Sometimes the clips that are put through a video mixer, and at other times video they’re perfectly synchronized to the music. For this performance, they were playing with cero, a sort of hip hop jazz trio whose name is an abbreviation for “Contemporary Exotica Rock Orchestra.”
In all, there were eight players on stage. From cero, there was Shohei Takagi MCing and also on guitar and flute, Yu Arauchi on keyboards and sampler, and Tsubasa Hashimoto on guitar. There was also a horn section of trumpet and sax, bass, drums, and another keyboard.
The music had a decidedly retro feel, drawing from pop jazz of the 50s, 60s and 70s. This was backed up in the video, which found source material in old Shaw Brothers kung fu movies, original Godzilla films and vintage footage of big band jazz as caught on film. On a couple songs, video footage of old jazz performances were converted into an audio-visual mashup, so that a drums, horns and other parts were remixed, with audio coming from the original footage and — as the audio and video were synced — the video played in cut up loops, creating a very cool effect.
On the whole, it was a very talented band engaging in an extremely cool artistic experiment, but one that fortunately didn’t sacrifice butt shaking for some conceptual effect. It wasn’t quite as intense as some live video scratching sets I’ve seen, but with all the musicians on stage, it was a great full sound and seriously fun to watch… and listen… and dance to.