Kodo is a troupe of 10 drummers and dancers who sequestered themselves on the remote Japanese island of Sado in 1971 and have since toured the world to considerable acclaim.
Indeed, the advance pre 5 , and back again to tranquil quiet. But thereafter, the drumming pieces seemed increasingly like sonic browbeating.
There's unquestionably a high level of skill, stamina and theatricality involved in Kodo's performance. The company is said to train in a regimen that includes up to 24 miles of running a day, and watching the troupe perform makes it easy to believe.
The sounds and rhythms they produce, however, don't evoke the earth, nature or folkways. They are the sounds -- thundering, aggressive, monotonous -- of assault and of militancy. At several points during the evening, the drummers attacked their instruments in a stance drawn from martial arts, and with a ferocity suggesting the pulverizing of an opponent -- when these people "beat" a drum, they really beat it. The performers consist of nine men and one woman (who dances in a couple of lyrical numbers). The troupe is not only predominantly male, it's also belligerently macho.
The rhythms, moreover -- however much virtuosity they may require and however complex they may be in layering and detail -- come across in the aggregate as crude and oppressive. As far as I'm concerned, this was a program constructed on a storm-trooper mentality -- what others find attractive in it I find it hard to imagine.