Boredoms: Eye Spiral 7-7-07

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As a celebration of the auspicious date 7-7-07, Osaka Japan's Boredoms staged an epic musical happening in a sublime location on a gorgeous day, which came off in a transcendental manner. The band recruited 74 drummers, from the New York scene and beyond, in addition to their own 3 on stage to summon a being of sound described by Boredoms visionary Yamataka Eye as, “one giant instrument, one living creature. The 77 boa-drum will coil like a snake and transform to become a giant dragon!” The result was something spontaneous, alive, a sum

of it's parts, but definitely all the while controlled by dragon-tamer Yamataka Eye and his fellow drumming Boredoms.


The event took place in Empire-Fulton Ferry Park, at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. A panoramic view of Manhattan with the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges towering above and framing the park, between the swift river flowing, and the ruins of a crumbling tobacco warehouse, the bright sun and puffy clouds made the spiraling configuration of drum kits and central stage feel dreamlike cast against the green grass. The stage was set with three drumkits, microphones, tone generators, samplers and most importantly a series of brightly spray painted "percussive guitars" which Eye would sometimes strike violently with a large blue staff, or create quieter, playful melodies with drum sticks. The guitars were apparently homemade creations and were mounted vertically, facing Eye on a tall stand. They transmitted huge walls of sound, especially in combination with 154 cymbals smashed in unison as Eye conducted his wild symphony. At times he smashed his staff over and over onto the guitar necks, as 77 drummers obediently took his cue to bash both cymbals on their stripped down kits perfectly in time. Some of the guitar smashes were epic not unlike a monster slam dunk. Honestly, Eye reminded me of Michael Jordan in his prime as he jumped and flung his whole body into the strike.

Eye took on the role of sorcerer. From the moment he first wielded his Shiva Trident to grab the drummers attention, after a controlled chaos where all drummers let loose a barrage of percussion (77 simultaneous drum solos), it was clear that he was master Wizard, mountain Rasta, and cosmic Japanese shaman. Small in frame but huge in vision and stature, he seemed to be not only guiding the 77 drummers but also the clouds and sun, the buses and trains crossing the bridges, and the boats floating by. The spiral became the center of the universe from 7:07 pm until about two hours later when the piece concluded,

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leaving most present speechless or disoriented. Besides the "percussive guitar" Eye coaxed the boa-drum along with echo laden vocalizations, and by triggering samples and tones. At one point the spiral of 77 drummers washing on their cymbals was brought to crescendo after crescendo with the massive sound of a tsunami crashing slowly, issued forth from a sampler or synth.

Percussive figures began on stage simply and spread one drummer at a time throughout the rhythm-beast until it reached the tail, and then a new pattern would begin from the center. Amazingly the piece never sounded disjointed or off-track. A core of 17 "drum captains" had practiced with the group for two days preceding the event, whereas the rest of the drummers learned the piece in segments during soundcheck. Nobody had ever heard the piece in it's entirety until it happened for real. It was trance music, of the ilk found in tribal cultures by anthropologists. It was a primal vehicle for transport. The audience circled around the performers, the four Boredoms on a low square stage with 8 speakers pointing out from the corners. Folks were asked to sit, for the ease of all present to see. As the trance took hold, groups of folks gravitated towards the river in a dance frenzy. One fellow on acid was rubbing dirt and gravel into his skin while dancing with his shoes on his hands. God bless him. Let's hope he made it back OK.

It was a feel good event that left many speechless. My one friend told me he almost cried twice. And he's a tough dude. The only bummer of the day was the disproportionate capacity of the event to public interest. A wonky RSVP system didn't quite cut it, as many thousands were turned away from this free show and forced to either watch from the bridge or listen from the river bank next to the park. Plenty of videos have surfaced on YouTube and other sites, as well as photo sets on Flickr, despite requests that all image capturing was done in the first 7 minutes of the event. All the videos I have seen make the thing sound disjointed and chaotic which it wasn't. A DVD and CD of the event are rumored to be in the works, as the next official Boredoms release. Hopefully that can convey the amazing surge of energy that took place on that auspicious day.

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Jason Bergman's Photos on Flickr

photos by Jason Bergman (visit his blog here)

text by Matthew Clark


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