- KUU: Journey to the Jar
These compositions by University of Michigan composition professor Erik Santos had their genesis when the composer reluctantly attended a performance by a Japanese dance troupe called Dairakudakan, which means Great Camel Battleship. The troupe performed in the avant-garde butoh style, with the dancers in white body makeup; the genre is said to be more popular among overseas Japanese communities, and among non-Japanese, than in Japan itself. The concert proved to be a creative turning point for Santos, who, knowing little of Japanese music, embarked on a series of collaborations with the group. The results as exemplified here might interest anyone from electronic music aficionados to casual attendees of the Japanese drumming spectaculars that have become staples of big-venue concert series around North America, for Japanese percussion forms a fundamental layer in most of these six medium-sized pieces. Several, in part or as a whole, have a high-energy rhythmic basis that sets them apart from the majority of electronic compositions. Santos then adds layers of electronic sounds, and the layer of smallest subdivisions partly consists of samples, usually of Japanese voices, that serve the additional function of evoking the development of Santos' own encounter with Japanese culture. In all, the music represents something still rare in the realm of electronic music: a genuine cross-cultural experiment. Those intrigued by Santos' ideas can find several other releases on which he explores them further.