Sai-So: The Remix Project

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The Kodo group is Japan's global ambassador of Taiko drumming. This fanatical group arose in 1981 from an island colony of traditional Taiko drummers that sought nothing else but perfection of their art. The religious intensity and single-mindedness of this small (population 40) thorp clearly comes across on the mighty percussion forays contained here. Consider the powerful drum exchange on "Nobi." Beats are thundered in one channel to be answered by drums of another timbre in the other channel. Imperceptibly, the piece slows in tempo until the sound of a muffled heartbeat emerges. "Heartbeat" is one possible translation of "kodo" and after this exposition the group returns to a potent swell of rhythms accompanied by frenzied and ecstatic shouting. Sai-So means "reborn" and as such this album is a rebirth into electronica of the Kodo material midwifed by some of the genre's most important names. Experimentalist Bill Laswell (Material), producer of Iubkl, contributes two tracks to this compilation that mostly finds the possibilities of ambient, chill-out vibes in Kodo. A notable exception is the vigorous "Wax Off." Sampling three different Kodo pieces and written by Kodo, David Beal, David Baron, and Lindsay Jehan, the urgent and layered "Wax Off" makes an excellent soundtrack to highway travel. Other interpreters include Strobe, DJ Krush, Kevin Yost, Metronome B, My Name Is Myron, and Killer Whale.

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