Thursday, August 11, 2005


This post took six days in the making, and a lot of time away from an internet connection

Amazing times in Yamaguchi and in the Kyushu area. First and all, a very nice afternoon of AS+Yuko Nexus6 and Mariko gigs outdoors by the YCAM building, introducing a short yet intense enough, frontal portable PA session during the Yamaguchi Matzuri (remember Naomi Kawase's Shara?) - nice combination of updated tradition, dances and shouts, and sweet noise making by your favorite Shobus crew. The people from YCAM were just great, too, Tomoko and all - plus I really don't think the systematic use of taxis to go from one place of leisure time to the other will happen again anytime soon. Oh, and the supper at some staff's house - all complete with a fest of sushis and an all so cute inu called Kun-Kun (it did look like a kitsune) - was a blast too, as well as the adorable auberge (those are Tomoko's words) where we slept.

Adorable Chihiro san, from Asahi Press, joined the crew for a few days and press coverage, and next was Kagekiyodo Mito Caves, just a few miles away from Yamaguchi up in the moutain. You should wonder why the hell we went in millenary caves to play - well, Lozi Kun really took us seriously when, months ago, we asked him to find weird places to play. We're not sight-seeing, we're sight playing, really, and this session in those caves was really something, as we strolled under humid vaults, over slippery rocks, all dressed with helmets and waterproof plastic bag jackets. I had the fourth PA, the weakest one which uses little batteries, so I found myself some nice place and comfortably set up for a lonesome sedentary session, while the others moved here and about from one extremity of the cave to the other. Many people passed by, quite a lot stucked on, listening to the music. Some had even come all the way especially to see us. Eventually, we ended the session with a very quiet combination of natural sounds and Pignose guitar feedbacks. Meanwhile, Lozi played a very intense sinewave+ flash lights+mist session in some hidden corridor next to the entrance, which really got Stephane and me to question the laws of security in this crazy country, as groups of school-kids tried to find their way crossing this really extreme barrier of noise and total darkness. Then was rest time in the Kagekiyodo Mito Camping: Mehdi got back to paint work on the left side of the bus, while the rest of us went for a very first stroll in the Japanese countryside, far from the madding crowd, then to the onsen just nearby. Useless to say that this was a lovely end of afternoon. We also barbecued in almost total darkness, thanks to Laurence and Chihiro skillful cooking techniques.

The day after. We woke up at 5 and left for Dazaifu, Kyushu. Rocking hard in the rocking bus, then arrived around noon in Dazaifu Tenmangu (tenmangu meaning sanctuary, and not shrine, or so I understood). Another crazy idea of sight-playing, courtesy of Lozi and of the lovely people of CAT (for Community Activate Team) who organized the event, we played with our portable PAs just by the sanctuary, then in the main shopping street of this charmingly quiet little town. We set up the exhibition on the bus. Then: the two sessions were quite engaging, as some oyaji guy got involved during the first and asked first a little girl, then a young gal passing by, to play traditional nursery rhymes on the melodica so that I could record them and process them in the patch. I got all excited with the melodies and a sweet use of granulation effects, while Mehdi, sitting a few meters away, re-processed them as well as Davide and Stephane's quieter hummings and droning, a few meters farer, sitting on the the fence by the clear water of the shrine's pond, infested with giant carps and turtles; and the second saw us strolling down the old picturesque row with baby screamings we'd just recorded in an alley on the way from the shrine and hurling processed street noise, ending with a great sine drone final and the involvement of a smiling polico. It was weird walking along with so many people to frame us, but it was done in such a good-willing and supporting way that it never felt that they were standing in our way or refraining us. Plus, I guess it prevented us from being punched by annoyed street vendors or passers-by (we noticed a few shops closing up before what we understood was traditional schedule time). We then went back to the bus for the end of the Mobium exhibition, and got prepared for dinner in a nice soccer-fan coffee place with all the girls and boys of the staff. Lush time, once again. Sleeping at some staff's grandmother's place.

Waking up at 6 the day after, then going up for some crazy ride in the mountain, heading for the leisure town of Beppu. Dreamy stops in amazing moutain sceneries, with rivers at the bottom of crazily steep valleys with luxurious flaws of green matter and fastly intertwined branches all over. Sleeping most of the way, just waking up to get all flabbergasted by the landscapes and go back to sleep. Reaching the valley of Beppu and the great descent to the see just before noon, to get welcomed by the huge Beppu Project team, led by Abe Junko and Junya Yamaide. Those are truly among the most devoted, hard-working, caring people I've come to meet in my short career. We were indeed taken in and looked after with rare delicacy and gentleness. We set up the exhibition once again on a parking near to the sea-shore, and Mehdi got back to finishing up the painting of the bus. He was soon joined by everyone, including many people from the staff. One visitor came by motorbike, to our delight, and we chilled in the atsui, atsui afternoon. Then reached the station area, for a portable PA ballad, which kind of looked like a proper parade this time, with the BP people all around, brandishing and waving Beppu Project flags and banners and taking care of street mediation. For so much that I could witness (we all strolled quite isolated from each others), climax of the performance happened when Davide got into a mute dialogue with some elder guy using a loop of a dog barking. Eventually, concert time arrived, and we arrived at the Copper Ravens venue just in time for schedule with our screaming PAs, for soundcheck. What happened next is hard to tell, as it was probably Active Suspension's best night in Japan, ever, topping our gigs in Nagoya's Club Daughter and Tokyo's Shibuya Nest in 2003. Small club, packed up with happy people. No air-conditioning, steam-filled air. Great gigs by Mehdi, Davide, Domotic, me (as a duet with Mehdi), and by MEC, all dressed up in traditional jimbe suits (which are worn, most of the time, by bad "yankee" boys). Extatic crowd. We kind of felt like stars, waving kitsune handsigns to great clamors. We loved it all the way, of course, our excitation only being topped up by Abe's. This was a great fest, as it was also the final evening of the whole Beppu Project thing, which had demanded all the staff and volunteers more than a year of hard work. We were so glad to be part of it. Supper at three in the morning, with mutual applauses and otsukaresamas was yet another amazing moment. Once again. Only Chihiro's departure this morning caused a hint of sad-driven feelings. We're now in the bus, heading for Awajishima, crossing the Shikoku region. We all took the best of naps on the ferry boat, then stopped on a beach for a cooling and soothing seabath and a MEC in bathsuits photo session.

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