exhibit :: michel gondry

saturday morning i met sam and rachel in soho to see michel gondry's exhibit at deitch projects in soho. it was a showcase of the props for his latest movie, science of sleep. many of the props and set were visual/audio interactive, adding a playfulness to the exhibit. i've never seen props for a movie before the movie; it'll be interesting to watch. it feels like michel's work is the last standing outlet for imaginative, dreamlike directing. i fell off the tim burton train long time ago, and i wish jean-pierre jeunet would go back to creating those dark and eerie storylines as in his early works. with the gleam of computer fx, i miss stop still animation and prop effects to create other worlds. michel seems to be the only guy that enjoys mixing all media together.

michel's childhood nightmare fears surface again in his works, one of the props is a man with oversized hands. the coolest piece was a piano which played film of a person playing a note for every note you hit. if you pressed more then one key, the video would splice and show two people playing the two notes. pure genius. i wonder what software he's using for that. i left the exhibit feeling like i just woke up from a vivid dream.[ watch video]

you can see rachel's flicker photos here.


performance :: sawako

this sat ant, mayo, and i went to sawako's performance at monkeytown in williamsburg. monkeytown is a bar/restaurant with a room focused on presenting quality audio/visual shows. the sets are usually reservation only, maintaining a controllable audience, with entree order mandatory to watch the performance. snazzy dishes and a room boasting 4 screens enclosure, 6.1 surround sound, and limited capacity of 32 guests. the space serves as the perfect medium for sawako's material. this time sawako was performing her own visual effects, i think using jitter. the visual's were beautiful, moving from lights to negatives, feeling much like the music was passing through night and day.

words can't described how much admiration and respect i have for her work. i don't know any other female artist as sophisticated in audio and visual pursuits as her. she is a great inspiration and her focus on soundscape motivated me also to recognize the subtleties of creating woven atmospheres. currently she's working on many collaborations and preparing the release of a dvd of audio/visual works. can't wait to hear more; her album 'hum' is still on constant spin at my house, especially when i'm winding down in the evening.[ watch video]

:: listen to sawako live at monkeytown

another memorable moment in the night was chika and zach layton's duo performance. chika's visuals had reoccuring themes i remembered from previous performances. her set was hypnotizing and completedly exploited the four large screen enslaught. it was a complete dream. during the set i totally forgot what i did from the last week. i think her visuals and zach's laptop zooms and buzzes erased my memory. zach was sculpting this sound live with max/msp and they humorously miscounted a finale, 3...2...1... oops. no one really noticed and it was all smiles any way.[ watch video]


project :: music videos

not planned, but by luck, alias pail has a second music video in production. my old old pal tobimayo from tokyo is in nyc taking film courses, and is going to make a music video for kathryn. according to her, she's going to create a mini set, film it, then film live action in greenscreen, place the people in the mini set, and have animation on top. woo hoo. sounds like fun! (and lots of work) tobimayo has always been in film, i think her father works at a tv station in tokyo. she's been doing little film and animation videos since college. some of her old old work is on youtube here. but i haven't seen any recent work for the last couple of years. she currently does high end macromedia flash design for companies here and here. i'm sure her skill has grown and i can't wait to see the results.

flickr photos of music video production

the dollboy music video is still in post production. filming is complete and now we're working on the animation and fx portions. animations take sooo long. hopefully this will wrap up by the end of this year. that's what chia promised me :)


cd release :: nikaidoh kazumi

i was so excited to finally receive nikaidoh kazumi's new album in the mail from ontonson. 'no album' is her first proper solo release since 2003's magical 'you dropped it again, didn't you?' her last output, a collaboration with saya source of tenniscoats, showed she was still up to her playful childish fragmented melodies. Ipiya is challenging and not directly accessible, almost experimental. i fell in love with her music immediately a couple of years ago. playful, folky, melodic. she's a girl with an acoustic guitar that doesn't sound like every girl with an acoustic guitar songwriter. she's known for her colorful voice which she manipulates into multiple personalities. childish to human trumpet to breathy to almost this speak easy impersonation of something from the past.

upon the first round of listening to the album, a wave of many emotions came over me. this album is a total breakaway from her previous releases. her earlier works fell in suite with a kind of diy sound, fitting the entourage of tenniscoats and maher shalal hash baz. even her con
nection to mt. eerie and k records seemed like a realistic extension to her family of sound. her music is playful and addictive and spontaneous, mysteriously twee; if not hinted enough on her us tour 2003 dvd, her spirit highly crushable too. mt. eerie gushing over it on film and me too! seeing her collaboratory efforts on stage with the whole diy japanese underground gang, i was expecting a stronger influence of her friends' sounds.

:: listen to lover's rock

the new album has mad production all over it. nikaidoh has graduated from indie rock school and put out a j-pop idol album. her voice is as powerful and beautiful as ever, but the songs have dropped that level of intimacy that was so easy to access in her previous more lofi albums. a little bittersweet, i felt like a protective father who realizes on prom day that his little princess has grown up. the drums are mixed for jazz pop. brass sections almost sounding like ska production rather then maher bill wells i-can't-play-but-i'm-playing tones. the leading single, 'lover's rock', could almost sound like a japanese norah jones. most of the songs take on a much more adult sound to them. soft and beautiful. but this time, her multiple personality vocal style alienates each song from the rest of the album. 'itemo tattemo irarenai' runs playfully like a ragtime broadway song. 'aire kawaiya' is throwback to an old traditional japanese song style, but the high production search for a strange sound to push a melody is forceful. the rest of the songs fall into slow tempo lullabies awashed in production. 'temperature of the windowside' and 'kyou wo tou part 2' are familiar old songs from her previous releases and performance, all redone with crystal glass. the closest song that acknowledges her past is 'long torch song,' but it doesn't transcend the classics from her previous albums.

:: listen to aire kawaiya

the punch is nikaidoh does have the raw vocal talent to support a higher production, bigger sounding cd. although her associations in the past have been with diy lo fi sounding musicians, in comparison to their skill and not their creed, nikaidoh has the ability to surpass them. i guess that's the realization i have to overcome in listening to this album.

her voice is precious and will always turn my ear. this album will definitely inherit a new fanbase for her, but i feel like old fans may feel like their little nikasoup has gotten a makeover at glamour shots. a little recalibration is required. still beautiful, but with extra layers to the core sound. it'll take a couple of more listens and weeks to really digest this album. whether this album is her new direction or a separate instance of itself remains a mystery for now.

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