Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Listen. I’m not trying to scare you away or blow your mind by getting all ethnographic. Our newest ether-amigo, E. Blanco, put in a special request for this one. We bonded over these Ainu chants years ago, when two young men could reasonably do such things. I was transfixed by Ainu chants on some Smithsonian collection and then found this record Japan: Ainu Songs on the Musics and Musicians of the World series on the Unesco Collection. The heavy stick-on fog-heat begs for some mystic musical corrective, and these shamanic butter-churning, grain-pounding beats and the accompanying back-and-forth seesaw sing-alongs from snowy lands do the trick. The Ainu, as you may know, are an ethnic group who live on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. (I once went to Hokkaido for the Snow Festival in Sapporo, but we didn't catch anything like this. Just drank some nifty cans of sake that had their own built-in heating mechanism.) They’re sometimes called the "mystery race" by researchers because of the unclear ethnic/cultural origins of the Ainu. Some speculate the Ainu are related to Mongols. Some of these Joseph Bueys-worthy bear-fat-smearing tunes remind of those breathing songs/games that the Inuit rock out on occasion (ever say Fast Runner?). In fact, this seems like something that Bjork and Matthew Barney should be thoroughly into.
“Upopo” - Chants of the Ainu
“Iyute-upopo” - Chants of the Ainu
“Rimse” - Chants of the Ainu