Kodo: The Hunted - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Sony/TriStar WK 67202
Reviewed by Jack Donen
Within a very short time, Sony has put out two new releases with the Japanese
taiko-drummers, the Kodo group. Why two new CDs? For many fans, that's an
Kodo has long been established as a master group in the world of Japanese
drumming, perhaps rather in the world of drumming as a whole. They are masters
of precision, masters of the beat, masters of a powerful sound that will
always test the quality of your hi fi setup, and the patience of your neighbours.
If you've ever heard a taiko drum group live, you'll be familiar with the
peculiar tingling, buzzing experience in your breast, as it vibrates sympathetically
with the swinging skin of the huge o-daiko, not to speak of the many smaller
So, why two new CDs? Well, what's special about these recordings is that
neither is a regular studio recording:
'The Hunted' is a motion picture soundtrack, and as such, not quite what
one is used to from Kodo. The film is an action adventure, about an American
businessman in Japan. He witnesses the murder of a certain, mysterious woman,
Kirina, and is then chased by the killers. The album consists of the musical
accompaniment to 15 sequences from the story.
Being a Western film, it's perhaps not surprising to find that the rhythms
on this CD are somewhat more syncopated than one normally expects from Kodo.
For example there's the use of cymbals and bamboo shakers on quite a few
of the tracks, the high, sharp tonal effects of these instruments creating
a sort of contrapuntal percussive effect, countering the deeper and heavier
It's an effect that Kodo normally uses more sparingly. Also the sevenminute
closing number sounds, in quite long passages, almost like a jam session
for jazz percussionists, each getting a chance to do his solo. Besides this,
there are a couple of very short synthesizer sequences, dedicated to the
So, all in all, the album is pretty much tailored to Western ears.
This review was originally published in print in Djembe Magazine, no. 16, April 1996.
Used with permission
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