GOCOO
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Taiko -- the thrill lies in the word. In Japanese it just means "wide drum"; for visitors to the Sziget Festival in Budapest, Hungary, it meant a most memorable concert. Thousands watched the festival's opening performance on Aug. 8 at the World Music stage.

Tokyo's Gocoo ensemble, one of the leading taiko percussion troupes of today, was kicking off a week of music, dance and partying. Kicking off? They were pounding and jumping and shouting it off. Thick drumsticks thumped taut animal skins and shockwaves of dense and complex rhythms rolled over the audience, sent out by Gocoo's 11 members -- seven female and four male -- on almost 40 taiko of all sizes. Troupe leader Kaoly Asano conducted a perfectly synchronized sea of sound. The drums' deep beats, cannon-like at times, made the earth pulsate.

But the troupe's magic didn't stop in the ground -- it also stretched up to the sky as the surrounding air jittered electrically from the spherical tones produced by featured all-'round virtuoso Goro Miyamoto with his harmonica, flutes and wooden and metal didgeridoos. Gocoo's polyrhythmic frenzy kept the audience on their toes in a never-ending perplexity of dynamics. When the pulse seemed to stabilize in an almost monotonous calm, Asano shattered it with a short yell. In the wink of an eye, a homogeneous decrescendo might change into its enthusiastic opposite. The ensemble's members are one with their instruments -- and each other.

The crowd -- having traveled from all across Europe and the world -- were torn between wonder and ecstasy. A group of Austrian percussionists gazed in amazement at Gocoo's very perfection while others in the audience moved as though hypnotized, their eyes closed and arms raised to the skies.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post during a post-concert interview, Asano described the troupe's music as "the fastest trance in the world". The dainty woman with the untamable black mane founded the group 10 years ago, in Tokyo. At the time, a female artist leading a mainly female group of taiko drummers was everything but common. Combined with their effortless fusing of influences, from classical Japanese taiko to modern Western rock and to techno, they caused a hard time for some traditionalists.

Today, Gocoo is esteemed by those early critics as well. Their cosmic music is just too convincing. In 01, they performed at the Japanese National Theatre in Tokyo as part of the long-standing festival, Nihon no Taiko: Taiko ha Koeru (Japan's Taiko: The Taiko Transcends). If this was the troupe's final consecration from the East, contributing their songs to the soundtracks of the second and third installments of The Matrix trilogy made them living legends to the rest of the world.

The history of taiko is not entirely clear. In the age of the samurai, the huge drums had a maximum diameter of almost 3 meters, and are said to have been used on the battlefields. Its thundering sound both scared off enemies and served troops as a means of communication over great distances. Later, taiko came to take an important role in religious ceremonies.

Asano said in an earlier interview that while she was definitely proud of its importance in Japanese culture, Gocoo wanted to break with tradition and use the instruments to create a modern sound. "We want to be on the cutting edge," she told the Post, an approach that allows the troupe to incorporate a variety of diverse styles and instruments in their music. Nevertheless, the drums are the obvious centerpiece. "In contrast to an electric guitar, for instance, they are made of all natural materials -- they live," Asano smiled.

Some of the drums are cut from whole trunks of maple or cedar, and are produced by professional taiko makers throughout Japan. Others are made by troupe members like Taro Matsuzaki. Gocoo's songs all have a background story to them. Specific rhythms emerge during the troupe's eight-hour practice sessions held three times a week. Every drummer is encouraged to play a part in the music's creation, and whenever a song calls for new sounds, the necessary taiko will be made.

If other acts were not ready to take to the stage at the Sziget Festival, Gocoo would have had to play one encore after another. Finally, they were sent off with cheers, hurrahs and a big applause from an audience that had virtually gone wild, carrying on the herculean energy spawned by the band. The "stampede" might over, but ground is still trembling in Budapest.
- Jakarta Post


(Translated roughly from German)

The whole tent was trembling and the audience couldn’t get enough. (The concert was) frenetically applauded and there was an exhilarating encore. It could have continued forever because we were all in a state of trance, due to the charm of the Magic Drummers of Japan, Gocoo. No one could escape these rhythms or respectively these beats. It is no exaggeration that it were cosmic beats. When closing the eyes, one was able to hear the “primal beat”.

Those who had expected a group with male drummers and two or three female flute players in a kimono, were in the wrong concert. Because the women, especially the lead drummer of the group, were in charge – in a musical and visual way. The formation of seven female and four male drummers with more than 30 Taikos (Japanese drums) appeared on stage in a sportive hippie-look, and jumped at each beat in the air - flexibly but with an inexhaustible energy - and hit on their drums with full impact.

When they weren’t (playing the drums), they were dancing to their rhythms. They didn’t aim at demonstrating the classical Japanese drum art in its purest perfection to the audience. It was a little bit of a pity, because the fine nuances and the pure acoustic power of a Japanese drum didn’t show to advantage. Instead, there were large loaded and hypnotizing beats transmitted by high boxes of several meters, that let the ground tremble. It was a modern version of the Japanese Taiko, a kind of “big beat” Taiko performance. Traditional and modern spirit didn’t only melt together, the tradition was completely swallowed. Party mood dominated! Because of the beats, a lot of (spectators) couldn’t keep quiet and were dancing.

One could have imagined a DJ as special guest. But the special guest was a master of the didgeridoo, and a unique sensation. In his solo he synchronously played the didgeridoo and the drum set and enthused the audience. He provided an ethno-mystical “ancestral-spirit” to the concert. Enriched by exotic wind instruments and a shell as big as a medicine ball used as horn, whose sound announced the birth of life (and) of the cosmos.

In a speech the lead drummer expressed her hope that the joy and the happiness of the music will connect to our inner joy and our own happiness by her powerful, rhythmical beats. That happened! Even the Japanese drummers were impressed by our enthusiasm. They want to come back and we want to hear them again. Maybe the Japanese don’t yet have the soccer in their blood in the same way as the Brazilians, but the rhythm they have. - Regiomusic


(Roughly translated from German)

Gocoo are celebrated at Wilhelmstein Castle. The Japanese drummers enthuse with magic musicality.

Like a storm, the sound of Gocoo - the twelve-person Japanese taiko band - grasps the audience, the stage and everything that surrounds it. And the donjon of Wilhelmstein Castle in Wuerselen-Bardenberg is quaked by the powerful beats of the seven female and five male drummers, who performed a spectacular show here at the summer festival.

The arena, where a mystic music spectacle is held for two hours, is sold out up to the last seat.

Gocoo has a whirling main character: Kaoly Asano, graceful like a doll, with a waving black mane, with a conflagrant spirit and absolute perfection in each beat, each modulation and each change of rhythm. Her fierce vitality and musicality are infectious, her charisma noticeable. Nobody can remain untouched here, and one can also see the delight of the women and men of her band when they let the exotic thunderstorm of sound break free.

They drum themselves into a state of ecstasy, are taken up with the strong pictures of a meditative art, being whirled upon colourful light and black shadows.

Up to the last centimetre, the stage is filled with diverse drums and other instruments, that the drummers play in a virtuous change.

Just like behind a protective barrier they quickly disappear behind (the drums), just crouch, when they it’s not their turn, and suddenly arise from nowhere again.

GoRo, the ingenious master of mysterious instruments such as the didgeridoo, a nature pipe, that not only aborigines can elicit archaic sounds, or the African kalimba, has a special position. He is responsible for the fine lines in the beamy but well built sound characteristics. In each composition one feels a fascinating systematic, that binds all powers, concentrates the particular motive and drives it to an ecstatic climax.

Then there is calmness, an airy sound-field of silent swoosh, calls, tintinnabulations, swishing develops.The audience feels as if it is surrounded by the magic of a tropical night. Firstly, Kaoly silently enters the dialogue of the drums, her eyes closed.

It is surprising how united the sound is despite the individuality of the musicians, how the choreography that suddenly leads to an optical united direction with just one single beat succeeds in the group. Gocoo, that is inspiration and a powerful feeling of happiness, that has room for the whole audience. Thundering applause, the taiko players throw animal masks as a farewell presents into the crowd, “We will come back.”
- Aachener Zeitung


(Translated roughly from German)

Conservative traditionalists in Japan might be horrified by this Japanese formation. Not only that the holy taiko, Japan's symbolized drum, is beaten in a way that brings out scarily modern, "Western" rave and techno rhythms. Since GOCOO this traditionally masculine hard work is even not a male domain any more. And to complete the palace revolution, the rebellious amazons don't only interblend the sounds of the taikos, bamboo woods, gongs and cimbles. They even use exotic instruments such as didgeridoo and Jew's harp. Women rebellion, the Japanese Tenno is shocked, Japan's world order shakes.
The name behind this earthquake: Kaoly Asano, lead drummer and band founder of GOCOO, a new and cool percussion act, with which she just recently showed the global movie commune in the Hollywood blockbuster Matrix Reloaded, that her breathtaking sound thunderstorms are the perfect setting to walk on walls or do Ju-Jutsu. Since their successful premiere in Europe's actual culture capital Graz, this conspirative drum union also powerfully interferes on our continent: 8 women and 4 men, who beat every audience into a state of soft trance with their arm-thick drum sticks.
The stage of the Schlachthof is like a jungle full of sinfully expensive, handmade taikos. There are more than 30 drums varying in height wherever you look. Furthermore there are cymbals, graceful percussion tools and - decently laying in the background - the lonely didgeridoo of guest star GoRo. Finally, the light is turned off, mist starts to rise in the semidarkness, colourful spots provide a mystic atmosphere and after a few minutes the walls shake. The stage is quivering, the ground under the feet starts to shiver, somewhere in the stomach the sound waves are captured. A hypnotic sound spreads mercilessly synchronously, steadily exactly and unbelievably forcefully. Drum sticks fly like tomahawks through the air, witch doctor Asano lets her lion mane whirl and gives the secret commandos for a consequently and strictly choreographed performance which is ballet and war trail in one.
In the beginning, there was the fire - in the end there is GOCOO with a fantastic rhythmic orgy, that started in the bottom of the heart, that is wild, full of persuasiveness and power without denial of the own tradition. Fascinating? Exciting? Ecstatic? Yes, all of that but even more. This big drum roll spreads again and yet again a magic that is hard to define, with frantic beats broken by ethereal sound installations. And finally, on the stage are not the brawny French drum hooligans of "Les Tambours du Bronx", who club their suburban industry sound on empty oil barrels. Small persons create the sound. All of them wouldn't cut a bad figure on the cat walk, but accomplish the feat to degrade the Japanese machos regarding their sense for rhythms.
- Wiesbadener Kurier


(Translated roughly from German)

The lady in the first row seems to have awaited this evening for a long time. Equipped in light clothing and headband - one of the bands we know from the movies with "Daniel-san" and "Mr. Miyagi". Even before the concert starts she seems to be in a trance-like state. Just a few steps away a teenager who is accompanied by his mother doesn't seem to know if he really should enjoy being here. In the middle of the hall, a group of Japanese checks mobile phones and cameras.
Then the light is turned off and GOCOO enters the stage. No matter how different the spectators of the concert are, after the first drum beat, there are only 12 musicians and excited people in the well filled ZAKK in Duesseldorf, who absorb the ecstatic and the hypnotic rhythms. GOCOO's music unites. Just by the presence of the 12 artists on the stage, a tremendous group dynamic arises, that is rapidly transferred to the audience. One can see 11 male and female drummers with their 30 and more drums as well as guest musician GoRo, his didgeridoo and calimba.
GOCOO is leaded by Kaoly Asano, who moves constantly and releases a lot of energy in the two-hour concert. Now and then Kaoly explains the following songs. With her friendly mixture of Japanese, German and English she is able to show everybody in the hall, that she probably enjoys her music as much as the audience. The music consists mostly of different groove-patterns, that are often played together by all of the drummers. That's the reason for the unbelievably powerful sound, which affects the stomach and lets the trouser legs wave. In addition, there are the hypnotic sounds created by GoRo, who charms incredible tones out of his didgeridoo and exhibits in his solo performance how much atmosphere one's voice can create if one can just master it. About two hours GOCOO shows the different sound colours of their percussion music. Therefore all members work very hard.
It's a little surprising that the graceful looking female drummers apparently don't have any problems to play their instruments in a powerful manner for such a long time. (Apparently their play) doesn't depend on body seize, but on technical skills. Before (GOCOO) finally leaves the stage, the band plays their version of the song "tea house", which is also on the soundtrack of Matrix Reloaded (together with Juno Reactor). Surely one of the highlights at the end of an all in all consistent concert. One could see excitement in the eyes of the spectators who left the hall after the unordinary gig satisfied and in whose ears the drum sound will remain for a few days - if they didn't bring ear protection to the concert. - Campus-Web


PRESS CLIPPINGS

The Jakarta Post, August 2007
"The crowd was torn between wonder and ecstasy. The audience had virtually gone wild, carrying on the Herculean energy spawned by the band."

Tink.ch Swiss, August 2007
"Within an hour the lovable Japanese band was overwhelmed with euphoria and hardly released from the stage. The eleven musicians were for sure one of the discoveries of the Gampel Open Air."

Coburger Tagblatt, August 2007
"With unleashed power Kaoly Asano and her musicians reach a higher level of musical existence with their flowing sound storm."

Schwäbische Zeitung, August 2007
"The audience goes crazy. The Drummers from Tokyo get such a delight in playing across to the audience of the sold out big tent that they are hardly tameable."

Mittelbayrische Zeitung, August 2007
"A damn spectacular show."

Nice Martin, August 2007
"You can not comprehend GOCOO just with your ears - the entire body is needed and maybe even your soul. The audience breaks out into rejoicings after each piece."

Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, June 2006
"Vigorous and full of energy the eleven musicians create a primal drum thunderstorm. From the first moment on the rhythmic spark made the audience, which was completely thrilled, catch fire."

Regiomusik, June 2006
"Nobody was able to escape from the rhythms. They were, without exaggeration, cosmic beats."

The Australian, April 2006
"The Japanese taiko drumming ensemble GOCOO is the personification of power and grace."

Mannheimer Morgen, September 2005
"GOCOO is drumming cannon-like and synchronous an intense beat of which any heavy metal band can only dream of. The audience is thrilled and hypnotised by the magic of the drums, which are accelerating the heartbeat and make the mind fly, and the gorgeous choreography of the show."

Südwest Presse, September 2005
"A entrancing spectacle for your ears and eyes. An inferno of syncopes and polyrhythmic attacks with a musical diversity that glides seamless back and forth between Japanese drumming tradition and western influences."

Stuttgarter Zeitung, September 2005
"GOCOO unfolds an impressive dynamic that finally dissolves in the harmonious cosmos of a total rhythm."

Neue Presse, July 2004
"With vast energy and contagious joy GOCOO drums itself and the audience into a state of ecstasy - they are drumming down all borders between east and west, tradition and pop, rite and party."

Frankfurter Rundschau, July 2004
"Regarding the outspread of the dynamical threshold, long crescendo and decrescendo, the group is by no means ranked behind a first class symphony orchestra."

Kateigaho International Edition, Summer 2004
"The hall fills with the mighty sound of taiko drums. Deep, heavy, thick, and furious sound. The music of GOCOO infiltrates the very core of those who hear it."

Drums & Percussion, January 2004
"On stage you have to think of this band as a force of nature: performing unbelievable intensive and transferring the energy and enthusiasm on the audience."

Triggerfish, July 2004
"Even Slayers Dave Lombardo would be amazed: just when you start to believe that the humanly possible drumming frequency is reached, GOCOO increases the speed that even experienced galley convicts would cringe. The drummers show strengths of young Japanese musicians, usually only known from techno pioneers such as Ken Ichi."

Wiesbadener Kurier, July 2003
"In the beginning, there was the fire - in the end there is GOCOO with a fantastic rhythmic orgy, that started in the bottom of the heart, that is wild, full of persuasiveness and power without denial of the own tradition. Fascinating? Exciting? Ecstatic? Yes, all of that but even more."

Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, July 2003
"Dark thunder fills the big hall, which increases to a flickering rhythmic-thunderstorm. GOCOO are 11 men and women, who brought the great Japanese drum tradition with unbelievable exuberance and overwhelming energy into our modern times."

Schwäbische Zeitung, July 2003
"Seven female and five male members are in the band, which started immediately like a gigantic rhythmic-machine. The audience in the nearly completely filled tent was enthusiastic which you could tell by the cheers after GOCOO returned on stage for the encore."


- Various media


Discography

See www.gocoo.de

Photos

Bio

GOCOO – Japan’s Magic Drummers - www.gocoo.de

GOCOO are seven female and four male drummers who capture their audience with original grooves woven with Japanese drums, Taikos. On stage the 11 musicians from Tokyo create with almost 40 drums a music-spectacle beyond imagination.

Music-wise GOCOO are one of the most sophisticated percussion groups of the present. The cosmic beats and uniquely complex poly-rhythms are of such primal nature that they reflect all known music styles and consequently unite people of all ages, ethnic and social origins and of any taste in music. No matter where GOCOO performs, at major World & Roots, Rock & Pop or alternative Music & Culture festivals, in live clubs, classic theatres and concert halls or at techno events, GOCOO takes all audiences on a mesmerizing trip between trance and ecstasy with their goose-bumps music.

GOCOO define themselves as a “Band” and while usual Taiko ensembles stoically pursue a traditional style, and while others seek new interpretations of traditional Japanese music, GOCOO's beat exhibits free-spirited Taiko music, rising freely between the East and the West, tradition and pop, rite and party and hence appealing directly to the heart of a broad range of audiences.

Although GOCOO’s music is often referred to as crossover or world music, or even new terms such as Techno- and Trance-Taiko are created to pay tribute to their unique rhythms, GOCOO successfully overcame any stereotyped concepts not only of Japanese drum music and reached their own, independent cult status. Free of ritual obligations, women, for example, have the majority among GOCOO’s members. Above all the charismatic female lead drummer Kaoly Asano. “The drummers show strengths of young Japanese musicians that are usually indicative of techno pioneers such as Ken Ichi: it’s a mix of Western culture and own cultural customs, moulded into new acoustic forms” says Michael Wenzel of Triggerfish.

The sound of GOCOO’s music is so unique that not only the makers of the MATRIX movies discovered GOCOO’s tunes for their soundtracks. The band’s sound can be heard in many computer games and major Japanese companies, such as Hitachi or Nissan, also use GOCOO’s beats for their TV spots.

GOCOO was founded 1997 in Tokyo. They debuted the same year, remarkably unusual for a Taiko group, at the Techno Festival Rainbow 2000. Since then, GOCOO’s frequent live performances at Tokyo’s cult locations, such as Aoyama CAY and Shibuya On Air, are packed with young followers who usually tend to shy away from traditional music. But for them, GOCOO's trance-like, danceable sound is simply excellent rock- or pop music. GOCOO also appear side by side with other bands and DJs at rave parties or open air festivals such as the Fuji Rock Festival, Asagiri Jam, or the Hotaka Mountain Festival.

Yet, GOCOO are highly recognized among the circles of traditional Taiko: for instance GOCOO performed at the 35th Nihon no Taiko: Taiko ha Koeru (Japanese Taiko Drums Transcend) at the Japanese National Theatre in 2001 and they appeared together with the legendary, traditional Taiko ensemble Kodo at Tokyo’s Earthbeat Festival in June 2005. Furthermore, GOCOO took the chance to perform with several highly achieved artists such as Korea’s Kim Duk-soo of SamulNori, West-Africa’s djembe player Mamady Keita, and Seiichi Tanaka of the San Francisco Taiko Ensemble. GOCOO’s music reflects all these different aspects of musical diversity and interaction.

In 2000, GOCOO’s first solo album Healing Asia Vol.2 was released. It was sound engineered by Shinichi Tanaka and recorded with no over-dubbing. The result was an album of intricate rhythm overlays and powerful grooves rivalling GOCOO’s live performances. November of the same year marked another milestone for GOCOO with their first US tour.

At the beginning of 2002, GOCOO joined Juno Reactor (UK) for a recording session which resulted that same fall in the release of the maxi single Hotaka. In June 2002, Universal Music published GOCOO’s first live album Live’01.

In January 2003, GOCOO performed for the first time in Europe: at the opening party The Cutting Edge of Japanese Underground of Graz as the Culture Capital of Europe 2003 they entertained a five-thousand strong audience. They followed-up with a tour throughout Germany. Another highlight during that year marked the joined recordings Tea House and Tetsujin with Juno Reactor as they produced the soundtrack of the Hollywood blockbusters Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions. Successively, GOCOO released their first DVD Live’02. In December two new CDs with tracks performed by GOCOO were released: Juno Reactor’s Zwara EP and the Best of Healing Asia: Amatsuchi No Aida.

Prior to the summer tour 2004 including appearances in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands, German television 3sat broadcasted a feature on GOCOO produced in Tokyo. Additionally, GOCOO's second live album Loveb