With 2011’s Thru Jerusalem, the urge to connect fellow musicians went live, as he left his computer to film local instrumentalists performing tunes of their choice in various city settings. Back in Tel Aviv, he edited the results into one of his signature mashups, not to mention a virtuoso musical travelogue.
Now he’s traveled even further afield to Tokyo, capturing forms both traditional and ultra-modern, for the first in a new series of original shorts from PBS Digital Studios.
Mayuko Kobayashi plucks serenely at the strings of a koto. Turntablist KEIZOmachine!, half of the breakbeat duo Hifana, scratches in his studio. The diminutive Ishii Chizuru pounds a taiko drum. Inventor Maywa Denki (aka Novumichi Tosa) demonstrates his adorable Otama-Tone. (Currently marked down in the Museum of Modern Art’s gift shop, for those looking ahead to their holiday shopping lists.)
The desire to integrate the ancient and the new is best embodied by kimono-clad Makoto Takei, who closes his eyes on a high-rise balcony as he plays a shakuhachi flute, the vertical city serving as backdrop.
Add a pink haired Harajuku girl, a string of red lanterns, innumerable cell phones, some pixellated video game characters, an aged temple or two, and several teeming intersections, then blend at top speed!
The product may be a bit earsplitting at times, but that in itself is fitting given the location. Thru Tokyo is a marvelous audio-visual postcard from 21st-century Edo, Japan.
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