There’s something primal about drums. Not even striking them, just watching them. Feeling your eardrums pulse and all your vertebrae rattle up against your ribs. Taiko music is one of those mediums where you feel it just as much as you hear it. It’s movement, sound and energy in it’s simplest form, and is paradoxically complex to pull off properly – and
If you’re looking for a bone-rattling good performance of Japanese music, just follow the sound of drums.
All the way from Honjo, the Hibiki drum group slammed, tapped and struck their way through requiems and Japanese festival songs to thrilling effect. If you’re up for the authentic Taiko experience, look no further. From their stances to their dances, everything fell into place almost perfectly. Take the instruments away, and you may have mistaken it for great physical theatre.
And whilst their English may have been slightly faltering, their playing was not. Strikes swept and twirled around each-other with such ease and naturality that it was like hearing a winter snowstorm made rhythm. Even visually, the group’s diligence and skill was enough to warrant the spectacle: during their faster numbers, the drumsticks summoned up something akin to a long-exposure photograph for the motion blur - even my triceps hurt by the end of some of the runs.
Apart from uncomfortably shrill and eardrum-rattling tones on a flute during their Requiem piece, it’s hard not to lose yourself in the swelling beat - and this rings just as true for the performers as it did for the audience. If you’re feeling down, watching Natsuko Mori swaying serenely to the thumping beat is enough to bring a smile to your face. And if that somehow fails, just stick around after the performance - the entire troupe will be more than happy to share a kind word and a handshake.
Simply put, Super-cussion is very much deserving of the name. The Hibiki group certainly haven’t made the long journey for nothing – if you’re looking for a bone-rattling good performance of Japanese music, just follow the sound of drums.