Sven Kacirek – Songs From Okinawa


CD – Pingipung

This very interesting album for Pingipung Records boasts a repertoire of music and traditional compositions documented in recordings by Sven Kacirek, the well-known German drummer and percussionist. On this occasion he has recorded various musicians from the South Japanese archipelago – amateurs as well as local celebrities – subsequently adding in his trademark instruments, such as marimba, xylophone, and piano. Okinawa, the specific focus of these sound investigations, has seen quite a turbulent past. A part of ancient Chinese kingdoms and then torn between Japan and America in the context of World War II, the islands’ complex history has resulted in an exceptionally rich musical tradition. “I’m fascinated by the sublime simplicity and precision of Okinawan Music,” says Kacirek, “from the orchestration to the phrasing of the singing voice.” Popular songs featured in this work are those dearest to the legendary folk singers of the islands. To the approach of the ethnomusicologist, field recordist Kacirek adds an instrumental expertise connected intimately with the music under observation. The project was supported by the Goethe-Institut and Kacirek emphasises that “my goal was to add something new to traditional Japanese music without banishing the ghosts of the old songs.” The German master has produced similar juxtapositions before – for example, in The Kenya Sessions of 2011 – the main difference is that this time Kacirek has faithfully maintained the basic arrangements of the recorded songs. The counter-intuitive effect is that the composition has been pushed towards even more extreme and controversial conceptual hybrids. It does, however, remain highly enjoyable listening.


A Short Documentary on Sven Kacirek’s – Songs From Okinawa