Sunday, July 5, 2009

Making Noise

Yesterday the Ajimi Team attended a going-away party for Tony and Yasuko who are headed off for a new life in the US. The party kicked off around 4 pm at the Hachioji branch of Rinky Dink Studio, a chain of 15 rehearsal and recording spaces throughout Tokyo that musicians can rent by the hour. The party room was about 20 feet square, more than adequate to accomodate performers on one side of the room, and an audience of about 30 on the other side. It came equipped with a drum set, ear-bleed speaker columns, microphones, a sofa, and vending machines for soft drinks and beer.

Places like Rinky Dink perform an important public service in Japan where it is frequently impossible for musicians to practice at home. Our apartment lease, for example, stipulates that no instruments be played in the building, not a uke, not a piccolo. As I write this, however, a neighbor demonstrates the benefits of homeownership: we can hear the strains of "Long, Long Ago" being played on a violin next door.

In search of a place to make creative noise, the Ajimi Team has frequently taken the band to a local karaoke box where, for a few bucks an hour, you can make all the ruckus you want. The cheaper places are hardly soundproof, and it is always fun to sit back, munching on a pizza and drinking a cold beer, listening to the random orchestrations that can be appreciated while sitting in a room between a blues band and an opera singer, with some Celine Dion being screeched out in painful falsetto across the hall.

The public sector provides practice spaces, too. Suginami-ku, the Tokyo ward we live in, has a few comfortable and acoustically lovely spaces (sans beer vending machines) complete with good Yamaha pianos, amplifiers and drum sets in the basement of the Saison community center in Koenji. Any ku resident can rent these spaces for two hours for a nominal fee but they are often booked weeks in advance. The more accessible public option is the park and the park land along the Zempukujigawa, in particular, ofters plenty of quiet groves where musicians can practice in relative privacy. We've dubbed one slope that rises from the river to Omiya Hachimangu "the horn section." In fair weather one can almost always hear a trumpter or trombonist or two battling the mosquitos to work on his chops.

Meanwhile, from the farewell party at Rinky Dink, here is a video of Ice Cream Man featuring Nogio Angel singing a lament about his alcoholic roommate.



We'll miss you Yasuko and Tony! Have a lovely life in Buratobaruru.

NV and VS

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