Metal Machine Music/Kogut Butoh 3/8
Written by Ricardo Wang on March 7, 2014
Metal Machine Music (Kogut Butoh) Saturday, March 8th at 11 PM at Three Friends Coffee House (201 SE 12th Ave, Portland OR) Free.
This event is one of those reasons that while we might all get self-satirical about living in Portland, it really is a place where creativity bleeds out of the walls. Could there be a more surreal or appropriate blending of media than setting a Butoh dance performance to Lou Reed’s finest and most difficult recorded work? Sure you could see stuff like that in NYC for some exorbitant cover charge, but in a cafe for free? That’s something Portland produces for it’s young retired folk that is too easily taken for granted.
Put together by Bob Priest as part of the March Music Moderne festival, this pairing of sound and dance is perfect for a late night on a comfortable coffee shop couch. Assuming you are prepared to be overwhelmed with experience one incredibly solid little bit at a time.
Butoh dance is a form of Japanese dance theater that originated in the post-war environment of 1959 and has spread throughout the world. It is an intentionally hard to define protest performance that often encompasses ultra-slow body movement and contortions.
Kogut Butoh have performed in such disparate locations as the Sea-Tac Airport and the Oregon Rail Museum.
Metal Machine Music (subtitled The Amine B Ring) is the double album that the rock critics of the world took as a joke when RCA begrudgingly released it in 1975. But the joke was that it wasn’t a joke and people are only now seeming to start to get that on a popular scale. Reed touring with a string orchestra that had converted the piece to classical music at the dawn of this Millennium started to clue people into the fact that the songwriter really had intentionally composed music. Of course the noise kids today get it, and the likes of Thurston Moore and Sonic Youth were missionaries to the cause in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The electronic sounds of MMM are not meant for background listening or any form of conventional listening at all. They exist to envelope and blot out all else, to immobilize us in the staggering power surge.
MMM as the impetus for a Butoh performance is a brilliant idea, though it will be a challenging one for performers and audience alike. The sounds of Metal Machine Music are ideal for the deliberate slow unexplained and unpredictable movements of Butoh dance. This whole concept demands an audience that will get off on expanding their attention spans in a world that usually is chopping attention to bits. Will the Kogut Butoh troop pull it off? You have to admire them for taking on the risk, and it certainly promises to be something we have never experienced before. And it’s all by candlelight!