Ayuo : at heart i am a child with no home 2021
When I first heard the download of “The great Cave” I had simultaneously read the lyrics of “The Lullaby”, associating them in error directly with the track. I had found enough reflection of that story in it, even though it reflects a next chapter, and already different story is told, as a reflection, on the cave images of a further evolved situation of looking back and wandering, these very origins of lullaby still remain truly part of it, as how they still reflect in its further branches of stories and events, or how they are brought forward from the father and further to the mother as to the lover, like bringing it and discovering with it another chapter of missed parts, of further overcoming moments, of further bridging, compensating and transformation. And that is how I experienced this first:
The first seconds of it set the tone through an emerging exotic drone, evolving into an ambient-new age mystical atmosphere, the becoming of a more and more filmic scenery for an oral storytelling (told in Japanese). I already explained how well I still heard this lullaby lingering on, as an engagement in the mind of a father wondering about the mind of a child in his absence and in search for something better, as a bridge, simultaneously making and filling up distances, as it can be heard in the sound of distant ambient sounds, which is filling up with exotic wonders, fed by its attention of curiosity, fulfilled by it as well in by meeting different worlds. From Japan over India to Persia, the whole silk root is spread out in front as if longing to bridge Europe in distant choir voices, while being overwhelmed mostly by what’s underway, which occasionally is led its course in inspiration, by letting it linger in cosmic tone music with electronics. There’s a dense complexity here of quality, bubbling and meandering, swelling and developing itself like a colourful wave, like a warm summerly breeze. It is a world and story on its own. In a way it could have been the kind of story told on one of such travels, which, when it inspires, also deeply touches and change you in your own journey as if it’s all part and connected and where even the lost parts are like the found ones.
It is a nice to hear track which caught my curiosity directly and similarly. From there it engages me well to make me start all over to where this story was truly supposed to start, meaning at the first lullaby…
This first lullaby is just guitar and voice. This is the story for real, as it is heard directly in the room, and for involvement towards the room nearby and the sleeping baby or thoughts. Personally, I am able to sense the Japanese language as if it speaks as sounds in words.
The second song, “A Child with no home” is like the start of the journey further away. It is craving to discover the gaps of what cannot be found locally. Currently, myself I am currently busy finalising my genealogy-tree and discovered things that I am sure Ayuo must have in them too, meaning all these moments of genetic experiences of all the peoples involved in the making, of what we had become in the end, as what evolved from one race and country and achievement to the next. What it is what will bridge the next moment will not be found on a to rediscovered place because such a place and time is to where you already no longer exactly belong, and where also the people became something different and for a part can’t be recognised perfectly any more. The beauty of this particular song lies also in its exotic sound, in the story being told, and in the tabla rhythm driving it. It was played live.
Because in this new order of the album it still makes further sense to me, I will now jump to “Time Flows” which gently starts with piano and keyboards. It is sung with a gently Japanese female voice. An additional rhythm slowly builds up along. "Time Flows Unseen" is the original version of "Nagareru" which was on the Japanese New Age Music compilation album, "Kankyo Ongaku" released by Light in the Attic. This could easily fit as an outro dressed for current times, to Popul Vuh’s music with its Japanese singer.
“The devil in memories” is like a late evening narrated story, with whispery wind and ghostly atmospheres of imitating voice theatre in the background, leading to an instrumental improvisation led by middle eastern-like electronics and some wind instrument.
In this order of tracks to my experience this might be one of the best of Ayuo albums so far. It’s sad it’s not released on LP / CD yet.
Lyrics to 4 songs are from a Japanese version of Shuji Terayama's Green Mansions" (by William Henry Hudson. The film starred Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins.) Ayuo has translated Shuji Terayama's unique translation of this story into English without looking at the original.
Ayuo: Outside Society (2020)
The two earliest Tzadik releases of Ayuo provided me an impression of Ayuo’s very distinctive original and chamber-kind of music in it which will made me remember Ayuo as a musical voice. In some of Ayuo’s other releases, the link towards the UK and the UK progfolk and acoustic prog scenes and its cooperations involved there are more noticeable there, while this prog aspect becomes another aspect of influence. It features a kind of spoken word with song as a kind of narrative feeling, a personal diary-like vision that is a new aspect that hangs into it’s palette like a curtain of colours. The main composition focus in that way somewhat taken over by its narrative aspect of ideas. In this new release Ayuo definitely tried and succeeded to blend these two mentioned musical worlds better, so that the contemplative ideas of story lead aspects remain more in line with the compositional feel of leads.
In the first track it’s British folk-prog influence is most dominant, with its Anthony Philips-kind of 12-string guitars and also other acoustic guitar layers enfoldment of the track, and its narrative aspect, it provides a rather symphonic rock feel. Furthermore, we hear an interesting flute part in it, some fine drumming mixed with the acoustic and electric guitar layers. In the next track some small part of synth layers are added too. Here, the musical voice in it tries to make it even more than ever before onto the prog world heritage.
After the lyrical themes of being an outsider when watching the people own bubbles of living along into their worlds or ideas that are able to grasp of society, Ayuo’s own spiritual goals are expressed first and mire distinctively with an extra element of acoustic percussion lead. A beautiful Japanese female voice accompanies this personal aspect well. This brings us easily and also swiftly and nicely back towards the renowned Ayuo-styled pretty classical chamber arrangements with its classical string harmonies, and then later, and as a new idea to also purely improvised vocal arrangements as another expressing Ayuo’s personal journey that distinguishes him as an outsider, with a sound from deeper within.
With the use of harp and strings combined, the order of musical themes have the effect that the atmosphere here succeeds to remain light enough to be able to continue to listen with a feeling of receiving pleasant oral forms of aesthetics.
After one slightly lighter approach and then a few more variations of chamber strings and solo voices, the last couple of tracks really succeed at its best to drag me as the listener into a dreamy and larger compositional flow. Notice also especially the several flute solos that appear here and there, also as introductions in tracks, for which I should pay extra credit to the flute player involved.
The last concluding track added more power, like with a funky guitar element and a heavier electric guitar arrangement, mixed with the acoustic elements which makes this a convincing conclusion. Clearly, this album succeeded well to bridge and blend all aspects of Ayuo’s musical ranges he has explored so far and that he could now deliver well into just one musical album. Please check it out.
For sale via Ayuo digital and physical at https://ayuo.bandcamp.com/album/outside-society
The first Tzadik album, Izutsu has calmly evolving semi-classical eastern music with lots of more exotic instruments, like celtic harp, sitar-guitar,.. and is highly original acoustic music. It has lots of texts by filosophers and great thinkers from Japan, Middle East, the West. It has a wonderfully balanced sound of instruments and quite atmosphere. It can be considered as new Japanese music with a global vision, also musically. The main piace is based upon a classic Noh play by Zeami (1363-1443) interpreted into a musical piece in a very individual way (celtic harp, koto, psaltery, voice mostly).
The second release is even more alternated. It subcrosses all genres varying from new music to crossover psychedelica with middle eastern touches. With lots of instruments, also electric, and always with a wonderful combination of sounds. This comes with the beautiful song-oriented voice of the Japanese pop singer Ohta Hiromi. Highly recommended ! A must-have of global world vision psychedelia !
Republic Kazue Sawai, koto : Eye to Eye (1987)***°°
Very beautiful playing on the 13-and 17-string koto, with a Kengyo Yatsuhashi track as my favourite ! Two narration songs are with Peter Hamill, Guy Evans. We hear also the beautiful voice of Hiromi Ohta on three Ayuo tracks (she used to be a famous pop voice, but now sings occasionally with Ayuo more often). Last track is by Yuji Takahashi, (famous composer & extraordinary pianist) -which also happens to be Ayuo’s father-.
Ayuo : "I actually wrote 6 tracks on this CD, and produced it. Robin Williamson (of the Incredible String Band) composed one track. Yuji Takahashi composed one track. It was my idea to ask Kazue Sawai to play Kengyo Yatsuhashi's Midare because I wanted to play around with the effects and reverbs. This track was not well recieved here because if you can imagine something like a well known classical piano piece by Beethoven with a lot of effects and reverbs, you can imagine what many conservative classical listeners would have said. The most well recieved were the two songs in English and Robin Williamson's solo piece, which is now a part of the repartory of traditional koto music.
Midi Inc. Ayuo Takahashi : Nova Carmina (1986)***°
There’s a great variety on this disk so I have to listen a few times more before being able to describe it all, going from what sounds like medieval music (one song, sung by Maddy Prior*) over traditional Japanese and other cultures' folk elements over to 70’s progressive pop. Nice! Some arrangements are done more minimal with keyboards compared to the more known later Ayuo pieces.
Other participators : Dave Mattacks (Steeleye Span), Peter Knight, Peter Hamill, David Lord, Aideen Mongan, Sunshine.
H²O Earthman Ayuo : Stoned (2002)**°°
This album is made to be performed with a stone-art exhibition held by photographer Ken Awazu. A couple of tracks are more landscape-descriptive with breath as instrument, experimental voices, and poetry like narrations (in English), often like ambient music. At least one (“Devotion”) or a couple of tracks seemed to be influenced by Peter Hamill (sung by Ayuo). Another song “Daybreak”° is somewhat more Middle Eastern styled (voice, guitar, whistle). Then we also have a few more acoustic tracks. One of my favourite of these is “Geronimo”, with thumbpiano and flutes and Japanese female vocals effective in a minimal performance. The last track is a performance with the sounds of stones.
° Ayuo : "This is an improvisation between myself and the Bosnian singer, Jadranka. She was a star in Yugoslavia during the days of President Tito."
Carmina Ayuo Trio + : Live bootleg :
we are the space between the sea and the moon(rec.1994,1997,1998)*°°°
The first part is mainly more heading towards singer-songwriting (like Peter Hamill), sung in English. I first wondered why English, and if Japanese not would have sounded more heartfelt going ? but later I heard English is actually Ayuo's native language.° I really like the guitar playing of Ayuo on the first two tracks. The second part has various middle eastern tracks, played on bouzouki (also sung in English, which fits most perfect with the middle eastern rock feel in them). On “Tao” his improvisation seems to have real appealing effect on the public. Then comes in a second, electric guitar, with its psychedelic wa-wa effect. At “He needs something to believe in” also a clarinet ios added (with the bouzouki, guitar and electric bass). On the last (fantastic) middle eastern track, “The Holy Man and the sinner within” the sound reminded me a bit of the German rocksinger Alex° at his best, or perhaps this might be even much better than what Alex ever tried to acchieve with his music. (-Alex performed Turkish music in a rock way in the late 70's, later on his music sadly became more and more normal rock-). Incredible this comes from an all Japanese band !
* “My parents divorced when I was quite young. I grew up with an Iranian-American step-father, who came from a family of court musicians for the Persian Shah. I grew up listening to a lot of Persian traditional music in New York City. I wasn't speaking Japanese at home either. So this is the answer to why there is a lot of Middle Eastern influence in my music, and why a lot of it is in English. I am, however, trying to increase the amount of songs in Japanese, and there is a lot more in Japanese now, then there was at the time "Live Bootleg" was recorded." Ayuo
°"The strange thing is that most Asians (including Japanese, Chinese, amd Koreans), who've heard some of my music go for the songs I sing in English, rather than anything else, while Europeans and Americans usually prefer the songs sung in Japanese, often by a female singer. Recently a film director in Beijing asked me for permission to use a lot of songs from "Live Bootleg" on the soundtrack of his next film, which for the moment is only distributed in the People's Republic of China. He said he liked the way my voice sounds in English. When my CD "Siongs from a Eurasian Journey" was released in South Korea, they asked me if they could cut out all the songs in Japanese, some which were sung by a famous pop singer here named Epo. When I said this to a buyer at Tower Records, he said that maybe the Japanese and Asian listeners are listening with their bones instead of with their minds. Songs such as Devotion or many of those on this CD are written very quickly from 30 minutes to an hour usually in a flash of intuition. The English is often simple enough for the Japanese audience to know what's going on, but the expressions used are different from what an Englishman or an American would write. This seems to communicate to the Japanese listeners. Often it takes hours of struggling to complete a text in Japanese, and they have to be checked and re-checked to make sure the Japanese isn't strange. I also use a number of professional writers to help me translate some of my words into Japanese.
When using an ancient text like that in IZUTSU, I have to come to it from the English translation and a pronounciation guide in alphabet. This is in a language that most people in Japan will not understand unless they've studied the ancient language. The music is then checked by some of the best experts in that field to make sure it's accurate. Many of the players on that CD are some of the best known today in traditional instruments. I also composed another piece based on an ancient Noh play called "Aoi no Ue". This was performed by players who really know the ancient language from deep within themselves. This was recrded, but remain unreleased.
I have recieved e-mail from a number of people in Japan, who complain that Ohta Hiromi's sings the traditional song, Takeda no Komoriuta as if she doesn't understand the meaning of what she is singing, and that on other tracks her vocals sound either artificial or contrived. Although it's true that Takeda no Komoriuta is in a old language from a western province that none of us can speak, we felt that she was able to communicate the emotions through her singing. In some of the other songs, the words have a slightly older feel to them than modern Japanese.
As you probaby know, Japanese is not my first language or a language I can speak without an accent. However, the same thing also applies to Kan Mikami or Shuji Terayama, the great poet who wrote many theatre pieces for Tenjo Sajiki. In all of their recordings, they are speaking or singing with a thick northern accent, which they will never be able to take out of their voices. Much of my first recordings were in Japanese, but the record companies told me to use English instead because the Japanese buyers will find them too strange. I have also had a violently negative reaction during my show, when a woman screamed for me to shut up in Japanese, and use English only. I, however, feel that Japanese with an accent should also have its rightful place here. In some of my recent works, I use some words by Shuji Terayama. My accent seems to remind some listeners of Shuji Terayama's own accent. Doing a live show with Kan Mikami was also a great inspiration. In some of my recent shows, I am also singing songs like "E no Naka no Sugata" from "Red Moon". Someone told me my singing in Japanese sounds like someone who is mentally handicapped. But people will also know it's real and not contrived because this is the way I really speak the language. I am now trying to use this disadvantage as an advantage, and increasing the amount of material in Japanese." Ayuo
Ayuo, once called by John Zorn one of the most enigmatic figures from Japan, compared to the individuality of Moondog for instance, surely creates music which succeeds to make its own musical definition with a world vision on music, as a blend of Japanese music with elements of Middle eastern and Western Music essences of characteristics. This "new mucic" stands very much on its own.
I liked very much the song “The Stranger” which was to be found for download on the support webpage for Ayou. I thought at first Ayuo was going to build a whole CD around this. The first track of the CD, "The Stranger" is a different version of this track. The main piece however, "AOI no UE" is something different and is based on a medieval Japanese Noh play said to be written by Zeami, based on an episode in "Genji Monogatari" (Romance of Genji"), written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, who finished writing it in 1004 AD. The novel is mostly about the romantic adventures of Prince Genji with Aoi as his first wife, who he married at 12, but he falls in love with Lady Rokujo when he is 16. When both were trying to get to a festival, Aoi found her way blocked by Lady Rokujo's carriage. So she gets her servants to break down throughthe barrier of luggage and goes on her way. Being humiliated and jealous of Lady Aoi's existence, Lady Rokujo's anger develops into an angry spirit that flies out of her body, even though she herself is unaware of it. This is where this play begins.
The music is based on Sangen, Biwa, Shakuhachi, a lot of medieval -styled Japanese singing and a lot of electronic and glissando guitars. The play is about revenge, but Ayou sees this tale as a metaphor for a lot of things that have happened since the Cold War if we think of modern terrorists, nationalists, religious fanatics, as well as anti-terrorist politicians. “She seeks retribution for the hurt and humiliation with a justification of an act of hatred”, an act which in the end will destroy Lady Rokujo. There is also another piece with a similar instrumentation to "A Stranger", called "Oh Light of My Heart". Originally, Ayuo wanted to put in more world music influenced psychedelic pieces, but John Zorn wanted less of these, and more Avant-garde pieces. As a result there is a number of pieces that unfortunately have become unused out-takes from this album. There are still no other labels interested in Ayuo so he had to make the compromise, which in the end still is succesful.
“The Stranger” used fuzzed bass, sitar-guitar, and has an exotic and psychedelic flavour. “Aoi” is a combination of old Noy theatre music with traditional instruments, mixed with electrified instruments, first used in an experimental, rather avant garde way, fitting with the old way of improvising, then singing mixed with electric improvisation half psych/folk/avant garde, with a weird result in its own harmonic sphere. Thhe improvisations thoroughly begin to make a compromise with the idea of the first track, first bringing in other combinations and improvisations, like folk, classical (piano), middle eastern (saz?), all heading towards a new psychedelic conclusion (guitars, and other instruments). The tracks hold a perfect middle between an improvisational feel with a very structured and thought over arranged evolution, with nice harmonic developments. Another great work from Ayuo.
Two more albums are listenable and downloadable for a cheap price at http://www.ambientmusic.com/ One is a very early recording from 1983, and the other is from 2001. (This site was designed by Iwao Yamazaki, ex-drummer for Ghost. The site also has a track by his improvisational group, Out to Lunch, and two ambient guitar tracks by Mandog, the guitarist with Damo Suzuki's Network. Mandog also has a new band with the leader of Acid Mother Temple).
Carmina Ayuo : live October 2001 **’
“Instinct” is an unusual track for Ayuo, with trance-rhythms. This is followed by some songs, often accompanied by guitar, one with an avant-psych experimental part. There’s a much more loner feeling in this album compared to the other Ayuo releases I’ve heard.
Carmina Ayuo : Carmina (1983)**°
This collection of well fitting together songs and instrumentals show glimpses of the original style of Ayuo, in a minimal, and very individual, and often rather improvised way, with use of traditional (both western and eastern) and new, mostly analogue electronic and acoustic instruments and guitars. "Carmina" is a good, cheap starter for Ayuo, but not as compact and composed as the "Red Moon" masterpiece.
Zipangu Rec. Ayuo : E no Naka no Sugata /
What we look like in the picture (JAP,2006)****'
First of all, I must say this is a beautiful looking package, which is, like the booklet, printed on high quality Japanese paper. This tickles all senses, including the touch sensibility for a change. Colours and chosen graphics and forms match beautifully, and when you take out the booklet some details change, thanks to a cut out window, revealing this like another surprise...
It is clear the music is conceptual, with references to Ayuo’s childhood, like a collection of songs and memories that had a special meaning to him. Like a related soul, with a similar origin of experiencing the world, from the same period (for me I think for when I was around 21-23) I had or could have picked out the same songs with comparable significance, like the two Lou Reed songs from the “Berlin” album. For the same reasons a few other similar tracks from the same period and artists became something I was moved and personally affected by, like the songs from Syd Barrett, Bertolt Brecht/Weil, and a Joni Mitchell song called “Roses Blue”, which gets an ending from “Both Sides Now”. The lyrical quote of “No one touches me” reminds me also of my childhood, and brings in more associations :
Social Affection and intelligence..
...Lately, on television they showed, as an educative attempt, that it is a better cure for your emotions to hug people. They showed how people who were constantly exposed to direct live reactions on the street made such people’s energy more aggressive, over-offensive, and over-defending and so on... You know they also say that abandoned children without proper care or education and constructive ideas from fathers, when grown ups, may find criminal activity a normal survival technique of life’s activity. Just some which were only temporalilly abandoned, -and who were also not used to be hugged and be loved, do care to find their own steps to retain this nature, something which not always easily grows...
But what still worries me more and which comes to mind here too is that those people who still don’t recognise any form of love and spontaneous affective understanding, (except a rule of dependence), not only literally behave much more like idiots, like small children, they show preferably a more “animalistic” nature. The presence of their limitations also makes preservation of some cultural level in society a bit more difficult to maintain, because they often don’t care or want to know from all these unwritten rules which we have built out of social friendships and trust, and that became part of a social culture, with the condition of more freedom where we no longer need to protect everything so much (-for me 'trust' is like the quality norm of a culture-). For the normal evolution of things (and for those "normal" people) we have a few social ideas that protect people from the few failures that can happen (like with the social security system or the systems for unemployment). But many more people who do not care use the protections and assurances during failures, only to uplift their personal profit, while also taking advantage of the loose trust between people, because they don’t really care, not even when it ruins society.
Against such people, openness and positivism to an open world just sounds so naïve. Ayuo writes : “we are not intelligent enough for all the good we mean”..
No, we are not so much developed that everything we have fits with the human level we can preserve, when the door is also open to the wild west type of world which is also ready to reshape the world, to replace it by their street game visions of a more arrogant primitive nature...
(And I could even continue to worry, thinking : what if such nature is let free to take things over by force, when we let the rules of the streets rule too much, under the protection form of a multicultural openness, society becomes like one big mafia world, with perhaps even some forms of dogma based “religion” as a so called hope, but also, the opposite, when we let only the idealists rule with protective rules, totalitarist regimes, as a system without wisdom, are also never too far away as a result for their ideas, if you would let them..)..
All such thoughts come in mind when growing up in this world of change and increased interaction in the world. Also Ayuo adds here and there in the lyrics his own kind of growing questions to some of the songs. BUT in some way Ayuo also achieved in it his mature point where he becomes like a catalyst, as the predecessor of a different generation with a clairvoyance of how a world could hang together after all...
World Music only as to discover its own roots...
If you consider how the term “World music” started, it started in fact from rather conservative ideas around the first idea of what “World Music” would be, something I never liked too much because I noticed much disadvantage with that. The term opened up after a while, bringing in mostly not too spontaneously developed crossover possibilities starting from standard traditional forms, but that last kind of forced opening could easily forget how this still starts from the same starting point which was conservative and limited and based upon recognisable repetitions. If only there would be taken another starting point for a world related genre based upon “creative music” understandable for each generation, and country of origin, taking elements from all over the world only for this creative inspiration, this would be much more like “World music” for me. But since that term is already taken for something else, I could only think of new terms like “all-world” music for music with traditional World music and creative elements from anywhere in the world and with a completely open vision, or when really more neutral and completely open to whatever there is interesting in the world, this is purely creative in the true sense a “whole-world” music style which is understandable and similar anywhere in the world. Often for this purpose, western crossovers were taken as a good example, but it is in no way just typically western. For this kind of fusing style, Ayuo’s music is visionary, and a perfect, if not one of the best examples.
Being raised by an Iranian stepfather, living in the US for a short while, with Japanese predecessors, knowing much of Japanese traditions, fine English examples, something Middle Eastern music he is a true World citizen, with respect for his own countries heritage, as well as other achievements, and that alone is already a good starting point.
After taking to the composer I realized why Ayuo had such a natural way of a world-vision roots. He explained :
"I grew up between two official step-fathers and two official step-mothers, not counting all those in between. The good side was that I was exposed to a lot of different life styles and culture. On the other hand, it left me without a stable home and without solid roots in one specific culture. Therefore, I started to use my music and writings to create virtual "home" incorporating all the elements that was around me when I grew up. Therefore, the Persian influences, the Noh, the Celtic influence, the psychedelic music, etc. If I tried to do only one of them, it may start to sound false. Altogether, it could create my very own "roots music"."
The relatively “known” and covered songs which Ayuo interprets here, are given a new life and meaning and version, also with the guitar work, and if necessary were changed even with words to specify that personal and creative meaning. This makes these interpretations like new and beautiful songs, gives them a renewed significance, which also makes these lyrics hang on effectively.
The guitar arrangements on “Roses Blue” from Mitchell are brilliant, with a small surreal guitar part, and with each verse exploring different, even dark thoughts and emotions. Using bouzouki is also a beautiful alternative sound for the acoustic guitar on some tracks.
Also a few Japanese texts are interpreted : poems by Chuya Nakahara to music -Ayuo :
"He was one of the first poets to become influenced by Dadaism and Avant-garde European art and literature, while still having a solid background in traditional Japanese literature ; Shuji Terayama, who established the experimental theatre group, Tenjo Sajiki, in the 1960's was very much influenced by him. The imagery in the songs ”Circus" and "A Summer Night in the City" is very surreal"... "The music (of the last song) is very melancholic. It's the feeling you get when you are walking about alone in the city."- ;
They hang together well with the English ones, and aren’t too different in nature.
For these and other songs Ayuo invited a good body of musicians. Jandranka is a former Bosnian singer, now living in Japan with whom Ayuo worked before, but here her voice never sounded more beautiful. Also Japanese singers Yoko Ueno and Masumi Hara bring on their own flavours. With Shu-ichi Chino on the acoustic and electric Wuritzer piano, Ayuo makes a few electric guitar improvisations with a Middle Eastern touch (one time in ¾), while playing darbuka as percussion.
This is another, brilliant release of Ayuo, and as a song related album it is the best I have heard from him so far. It could mean something on the international market, if only people would start to recognise the inevitable great talent of Ayuo, something which has not been achieved yet, despite effort of support by people like Peter Hamill and such (who worked with him before). Any Acid folk lover, I recommend just to start with this album and “Red Moon” and I am sure also you will become a fan.
PS. The album includes a new version of the suite of songs released as "A Painting of You and I" in “Red Moon”. Because the original title could be translated a number of ways, the English title here appears as "What We Look Like in the Picture".
Contributors : Ayuo (guitar, vocals) with Ueno Yoko (vocals), Hara Masumi (vocals), Jadranka (vocals, saz, guitar), Chino Shu-ichi (piano), Takahashi Yuji (piano), Sawada Jyoji (sound collage)
Extra background thoughts by Ayuo :
"The story behind "A Picure of You and I", "Izutsu", "Lament" in both Carmina and Izutsu and the two songs set from "The Dream of Red Mansions" in Kazue Sawai's album are basically the same.
Edgar Allen Poe's poem, Annnabel Lee also has the same story. The writer, Yukio Mishima, once started writing a short story based on Edgar Allen Poe's Annabel Lee, but found it so similar to Izutsu, that he put in a quotation from Izutsu after he finished the story.
They are about a boy and a girl, who grow up together in the same village. They fall in love and marry. One dies and the other continues to live in the memory of the life they had together. The story seems very simple , but it's actually about one's identity and roots.
The importance of England
Peter Hammill told Ayuo that he raised his three children in a small town near Bath, England because he wanted to give them a solid sense of roots.
Ayuo : "I never had that because my parents were moving around constantly. In this modern age, being able to grow up with the same people in the same place is important. because that way you really get to understand people. The musicians that I toured with, and that went on to tour the States all wound up with broken homes." (He was tallking about menbers in Genesis and King Crimson.)
"I've never had the chance of being in one place long either. Just when I turned three, I was in Berlin. I was in Stockholm, when I was four. Then from the time I turned six to when I was fifteen, I was in New York City. Sometimes, we moved to a few different places in one year. My familly menbers kept changing too. I've had Iranian and English step-fathers, as well as an Irish-American step-mother."
Peter: "Oh well, for me, it was all in England."
The "Folk Society"
Kurt Vonnegut wrote an essay that his greatest influence was his cultural anthropology teacher at College. Robert Renfield, his teacher, wrote constantly about what he called a "Folk Society". He wrote that although primitive societies all have their various differences, there is one thing that is in common. It is that they are all so small that everyone knew each other for a lifetime. Experiences were communicated by word of mouth, so the old were respected for their memories. There was little change. People were all able to treat each other as people instead of as things because they each of them knew where they were coming from and what they were thinking.
Now this tends to sound like the lost paradise or the garden of Eden. People throughout history in every land have written about such utopias. In the 60's, people went out to communes to try to create such a society. They failed because they no longer had such tradition, had no fixed rules of human relationships, couldn't really understand each other nor about human nature.
"When I look at small societies, I also notice that people living in them are often much more envious of any who is more successful than everyone else. People there also hate anyone that is slightly different, and are highly prejudiced. There is a composition I wrote called "The Taiko player of the Forest", which was one of the tracks deleted from the CD, "AOI", released from Tzadik. This composition is about someone, who is trained as a drummer because he's slightly different than everyone else. People in his village all treat him like an outcast, and outcastes were often trained to be musicians because they couldn't fit into society. This kind of situation existed in small villages in both Japan and Africa, and probabbly many other places."
"For me, the most interesting and influencial book I've read in the recent years is Matt Ridley's "Nature vs Nurture", which is a book that examines the roots of human behavior. Matt Ridley is a science journalist. He writes about how our genes absorb experiences from the society we grow up in, and our immediate environment. Scientists who study genes now believe that all human beings on the earth are descended from the same group of people that originated in Tanzania in Eastern Africa. Parts of this group started to leave the African continent from about 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. The differences in the environment and how each set of people coped with it made the changes in the people around the earth. But we are still 99.99% alike."
"Matt Ridley also writes about Kasper Hauser. Kasper Hauser was a man who grew to be 16 with almost no human contact. He was able to learn some vocabulary by imitation, but had a problem understanding grammer. Matt Ridely writes the ability to learn language is inherited, but the language one learns to speak is imprinted from the society they are raised in. The same goes for culture. And that there is a time limit for this imprinting, which is up to about the time you are 15. As I was raised in various places until I was 15, reading this had quite an impact on me.
The German film director, Werner Hezog, made a film called "The Enigma of Kasper Hauser" with music by Popul Vuh's Florian Fricke.
I believe that understanding about life science will help uncover a lot about human behavior, and that this is what we need." Ayuo
Seoul Rec. Ayuo :Songs From a Eurasian Journey (JAP/UK,rec.1997,pub.1998)***°
I would also like to mention this great more or less progressive song album with some extra exotic (like sitar guitar) instruments, with the help of musicians like Danny Thompson, Dave Mattacks, Peter Hamill, Takya Nishimura and others. Published in Korea only. Engineerd by David Lord. Some songs have Persian flavours.., revealing Ayuo's partial Eurasian roots. No surprises but enjoyable and attractively arranged. My favourite moment is when the Persian musical theme enfolds itself.
Zipangu Prod. Ayuo and Seashell :DNA (JAP,2009)****
In a world where in a short time there will be no place to survive easily (with shortage or flooding of water, lack of possibilities for developing food production, shortage of space, difficulties of environmental conditions, and mixed cultures with stubborn unsolved unhealthy characteristics), where man remains a faster environment-destroyer than a constructive being, Ayuo still focuses with his abilities to the newest positive tendencies of inwards possibilities of new discoveries, starting with DNA and investigations that prove the existence of other dimensions, (but what if this process of spoiling its ballast further continues also there ? is something I would say, it’s just finding a new space for doing so)...
...Ayuo’s song inspirations keep the inner source and belief in this never ending discovery process, with child-friendly songs giving the new generation the new perspectives where to look at (shouldn’t they better look for a bit more for the first time instead of just looking at? I intend to say), mixed with the ability rooted in the perspective of some of our older generations which have a stronger fundament of grown perspectives derived from books, writers and philosophers, but also conscious musicians from varied cultures (Ayuo mentions inspirations as far as from Rumi to Timothy Leary or from H.P.Lovecraft and Robert Graves over to Joni Mitchell, and some Japanese/eastern sources).
Some of the songs are just lovely, poetic situations of shared continuations, or having lost contact of the other on the other hand, about fairytale-alike (like the child of the sun god story taken from the Indian Mahabharata) or dream-alike situations that are a part of childhood existence or the perspectives now, about the nature of appearances of memories and about perceptions of our perceptions of reality, but also about our consuming realities, or in general mostly dream-like states, a protective state where you could learn to keep on trying to use our imagination and creativity if you ask me. Beautiful are the whispery sounds creating a theatrical background in some tracks. “Asonokawa” describes situations provoked by a series of onomatopoeian words, an experimental piece written in graphic notation for voices.
Most songs are led by acoustic fingerpickings mixed with chamber-like orchestra arrangements. Here and there a female backing vocalist adds dual or wordless vocal arrangements. The atmosphere remains beautiful and friendly everywhere. Small exotic touches like use of tabla or sitar-guitar can be heard sporadically. Most songs are in English, some in Japanese, some with a bit of spoken word, but all texts are translated in the booklet.
Included in the box is also a picturebook that he wrote for children (in Japanese). This tells the story of the beginning of life, combining Indian and Greek mythology with the way modern scientists after the discovery of genome, explain things.
There are some concerts planned with the orchestra in November and January.