Plapla Pinky at Villette Sonique on Saturday 25th May

A great piece of news that is sure to please a good number of you: Plapla Pinky are playing at the Villette Sonique festival on Saturday 25th May at 7pm.

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Fed by diverse influences, the twin voices of Bakirinosu have their roots in popular Japanese music and travel, a cappella, along melodic lines that evoke both European folklore and the sound of unknown threnody, from further away. An eclecticism that is full of sap, autodidact and non-complex, thus proving that originality does not have to be technical.

Part of the Osaka art scene, Ras and Gaki collaborated on rock projects before testing a more daring show based on song. Far from the media maelstrom of Tokyo, Bakirinosu is a young group whose candour wins over many fans. Spontaneous and soothing voices of beautiful simplicity oscillate between ethnic breathing and poetic nursery rhymes. Their first mini album Ironaki Sora, To Aoi Tsuki (Colourless Sky and Blue Moon) was released on the Toka Jiku label in 2005.

Born in 1978 and 1980 respectively, Ras and Gaki formed Bakirinosu in 2003. They have an autodidacte singing style, acquired by imitating vocal styles borrowed from rock, nursery rhymes and even the Bulgarian tradition. Both profane and religious and usually accompanied by both instruments and percussion, the popular Japanese songs that inspire these artists are based on calls and responses (which are also found in the African tradition) and are often the product of phrases murmured to oneself whilst walking across the fields. In addition to the components of style and technique, it is this idea of song as an accompaniment to and extension of daily life that Bakirinosu makes use of - a way of allowing your heart to speak and try to describe a color, a cloud or a friend.

Ras and Gaki create a universe that is halfway between music and the human world on the one hand and the ambient sounds of nature, the mystery of an animal heart on the other, inextricably confusing the borders between each one. Using their voices as instruments in the broadest sense of the term (Gaki is also part of an experimental croup that only plays concrete sounds and field recordings using samplers), they enrich their song with sighs, demented laughter and, above all, attentively listening to silence.

This free, airborne rather than stripped-down music, does not easily sit in listeners’ memories. The only traces of it are imaginary memories and the soft caress of an inaudible, eddying and endless breath within a secret corner of conscience.

© 2006 text: Franck Stofer, photo: Albane Laure

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Monstrosity, sexuality and the separation of the masculine and feminine are recurrent themes in the work of Yoko Higashino, dancer and choreographer in the company Baby-Q. They are however treated without any real “feminist” intent. In her new piece, Watashi wa sosorareru/I am aroused, she allows us a glimpse of a world between dream and reality, a space charged with scenes from our fantasies played out on smudged mirrors and screens and weighted with crimson velvet curtains. Yoko Higashino invents a spasmodic universe of deaf brutality through which radiate the beauty and androgyny of her double-jointed dancers.

Baby-Q opened for business in the comfortable but something restrictive Osaka in 2000. Tokyo, concentrating more artistic energy, professionally more stimulating, beckoned. The time was right when Yoko Higashino won first the Toyota Choreography Award in 2004, then the Yokohama Dance Collection R in 2005. Several members of Baby-Q followed her and the whole company relocated in 2005.

One of Yoko Higashino’s aims is to make dance more accessible. “In contrast to cinema or music, dance is still a largely misunderstood art form in today’s Japan”, Yoko says, always busy with lessons both in the Baby-Q Dance Lab studio and outside. She has invented a double: Kemumaki Yoko (literally “Yoko disappearing in smoke”), who, dressed in a blonde wig, descends into the depths of Tokyo clubs to improvise cathartic performances with noise artists and touring avant-garde musicians. Always on the same mission, her goal is to bridge the gap, get contemporary dance on the map.

In Baby Q shows, different scenographic elements come together to combine forces. Dance, costumes, music, lighting and sometimes robotic or medical technology are all managed with the same precision. There is always a strong central theme, like in Alarm!, Geeeeek (deformity) or Watashi wa sosorareru/I am aroused. The titles alone are enough to call powerful imagery to mind and on this Yoko’s choreography is constructed, critical and liberating of our unconscious desires. Baby-Q throws back a vision of our own decadence, a world in which wars, marital violence and the most unbridled sensuality are part of a single whole, the everyday, televised, banal.

© 2008 text: Franck Stofer, translation: Jack Sims, photo: Eric Bossick

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