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Celestial Harmonies
US $15
In der japanischen Tradition sind die 24 Stunden eines Tages in 12 Phasen von je zwei Stunden unterteilt. Jede Phase ist energetisch einem Tier (Hase, Drache, Schlange, Pferd usw.) zugeordnet. Das vierköpfige renommierte Perkussions-Ensemble aus Sydney setzt diese Energien unter der Leitung von Michael Askill musikalisch gekonnt im Geist des Zen um. Zu den Trommeln, Glocken, Marimbas, Gongs etc. spielen als Gastmusiker Satsuki Odamura (Koto) und Riley Lee (Shakuhachi).

the project

Matsuri, which means festival in Japanese, is the debut commercial recording by Synergy, Australia's extraordinary percussion quartet. It is an appropriate title, as the ensemble members and their guests present a festival of sounds and compositions from Japan and Australia. In addition to Synergy's usual complement of drums, gongs, and mallet instruments, the music on Matsuri includes the traditional shakuhachi flute and the long zither, or koto, of Japan.

Matsuri is more than a simple collection of works. It is a carefully constructed concert program inspired by the traditional divisions of the day in Japan, where each two–hour period is associated with a different sign of the zodiac. The album begins with the ritual striking of a shrine drum, denoting the Hour Of The Rabbit or sunrise, and concludes with the crystalline sounds of A Clear Midnight, part of a suite written by Synergy founder, Michael Askill. The ensemble presents the soft impressionism of Toru Takemitsu's famous Raintree, for mallet instruments and antique cymbals; the eerie sounds and the visceral impact of Askill's The Wave, for voice; Japanese drums and Thai gongs; and the inviting, almost Western–sounding koto music of Tadao Sawai's Hotaru.

Works by popular pianists and composers, Teizo Matsumura and Sen Amano, help to round out the recording. Riley Kelly Lee, one of the few Westerners to attain the rank of grand master of the shakuhachi, contributes a flute solo. Matsuri is more than a festival of percussion, and more than another recording of contemporary music from the Pacific. With a program that ranges from musical meditations to exciting barrages of traditional style drumming, Matsuri has a ritualistic, almost timeless, sound.

the artists

Synergy is Australia's foremost percussion group and is Australia's oldest contemporary music ensemble. Founded in 1974, the quartet has commissioned dozens of new works from Australian composers, and has performed virtually all the classic percussion pieces (including works by Cage, Xenakis, Takemitsu, and others). In addition, the group has had long–standing interests in the traditional taiko drum ensembles of Japan and in various forms of dance and music–theater. Synergy's guests on the album include shakuhachi virtuoso, Riley Kelly Lee, who has recorded several albums of solo shakuhachi music and duets with koto player, Gabriel Lee. Also included are Satsuki Odamura, a koto master who studied with Tadao Sawai and his wife, the bass–koto player Kazue Sawai, who established the Australian branch of the famous Sawai International Koto School.

biography - askill

discography - askill

discography - synergy


1 The Hour of the Rabbit (Akemuttsu) 1'20"
2 The Hour of the Dragon (Dawn) 6'25"
3 The Hour of the Snake (Raintree) 11'43"
4 The Hour of the Horse (Shikyoku) 12'32"
5 The Hour of the Sheep (Matsuridaiko) 0'45"
6 The Hour of the Monkey (Kofu Yataiyabashi) 8'36"
7 The Hour of the Chicken (Hotaru) 9'55"
8 The Hour of the Dog (The Wave) 6'33"
9 The Hour of the Boar (Water is Water) 4'28"
10 The Hour of the Mouse (Difficulty in Falling) 5'03"
11 The Hour of the Ox (A Clear Midnight) 3'31"
12 The Hour of the Tiger (Kuremuttsu) 1'31"
  Total Time: 72'33"