It's a group that arrives with a thunderous crash, shaking walls and stages the world over with its century-old culture. Kodō, the most famous of all taiko groups (the Japanese word for percussion), is the precision of a timeless art in a show that is as physical as it is musical, as percussive as it is impressive.
In Japanese, Kodō means both "children of the drum" and "heartbeat". And clearly, these artists, who fervently perpetuate their traditions, make hearts and bodies resonate with vibrations that carry universal messages. With frantic rhythms, deep bass tones and magnetic resonances, we feel as if we're about to embark on an epic battle, as in the days of the samurai, when the next tableau offers us more textured, more subtle music, invoking nature, the microcosm or the raging elements.
And while Kodō is rooted in Japan's Sado Island, where the band hails from, it doesn't limit itself to a traditional conception. After 40 years of touring five continents, their art is also contemporary, inspired by their many travels. Clearly, these artists strike a fine balance between their origins and spirituality on the one hand, and their openness and creativity on the other.
But whatever the case, and even if Kodō have a few albums to their credit, it's for the stage that the band lives. The percussion is impressive, as is the muscularity of the musicians who wield it, veritable athletes who undergo rigorous physical training. And against the skilfully orchestrated lighting, the drums speak to the soul, in a rhythm that barely gives the audience time to catch their breath.
There are hundreds of taiko groups in Japan, but only one has managed to conquer the world. Based on the Japanese island of Sado, the group was formed in 1981 from the existing Ondekoza. And while it still boasts some of the world's leading musicians, its members are regularly renewed, as are its directors, each bringing his or her own vision, both traditional and contemporary. The year of its formation, Kodō performed for the first time in Europe at the Berlin Philharmonic. For them, it was the start of a journey that would have no end. From Europe to the Americas, via the Middle East and, of course, Japan, they carry the voice of taiko around the world.
In 1984, they had already played at the Olympic Arts Festival preceding the Los Angeles Olympic Games. But in 1998, it was at home that they demonstrated their masterful art, always sublimely illuminated. A powerful performance to open the Nagano Winter Games. Three years later, they used their fame to promote their culture by organizing Earth Celebration, a festival of traditional music and dance held every year on the island of Sado.
For 40 years, the members of Kodō have been touring the planet at a hypnotic pace, making their audiences resonate in unison. After an enforced two-year break, they return with two shows entitled Tsuzumi and Warabe. The latter goes back to the roots of taiko, like a child discovering rhythm, to tell the story of the deep ties that unite man and nature. For the first time, in 2024, Kodō takes to the roads of Europe to bring to life this meticulous choreography, this celebration of a unique sound between resonance and physicality, to talk about a subject as old as the world yet terribly topical.
Tonight was a unique sensory experience. The show climbed to a crescendo, starting with finesse, high-pitched percussion and ending with thunderous bass, the larger drums being struck in rhythm by impressively muscular performers. A superb experience that touches the mind as well as the body, and left us completely thrilled!
You can't just listen to a Kodō album, their music is lived and felt on stage. Because the vibrations of their giant drums grab us by the guts and make our hearts beat faster. Because it's the staging and lighting effects that bring out the best in these musician-athletes who passionately practice an ancestral art. Because their message can only be fully revealed in rhythms that can be appreciated live. A timeless experience!
Powerful yet graceful, a performance by Kodō, Japan's most prestigious taiko (Japanese for drum) ensemble, currently on tour in Europe, never leaves you indifferent. Minimalist and meticulous, the staging - the positioning of the drums, on foot or on the floor, and the lighting, the movements and placement of the bodies, the choice of fabrics - turns each of the seven tableaux that make up the show into a succession of works of art that delight the eye.