Friday, December 2, 2011

Return of the Abominable Jungleman (a blast from the past)


Nchan et Christine ont poursuivi en Malaisie leur collecte de sons et de témoignages auprès de musiciens -- joueurs de gamelan traditionnel ou jeunes percussionnistes rencontrés aux franges de la ville. Dans la jungle toujours proche, ils ont suivi Antares, un musicien chinois sage et fou, arpenteur de tous les sentiers et joueur de flûte. Marié à une aborigène, il défend la forêt, les droits de sa tribu auprès du gouvernement tout en écrivant ses articles d'ethnomusicologie dans la hutte qu'il a tressée, au vert, relié au monde par un esprit transculturel -- et par Internet! ~ Christine Rodès


This is hardly an original statement, but it's worth repeating: the internet is the best thing technology has come up with thus far! Some insist nothing can beat the washing machine - but as I have never owned one, I don't have an opinion on that.

Earlier, I was cursorily checking visitor stats on my blog when I was intrigued by a Google search someone located in Muscat, Oman, had done on "magic river antares"... so I followed the link to the search results and found this YouTube video dating back at least 6 years but only recently uploaded.

Sometime in 2005 a colorful bunch of visitors had appeared at my home, wielding video cameras and recording equipment. Even before I could say hello, they were busy shooting video footage of everything that caught their fancy. They told me they were multimedia artists, collecting raw material from around the world and incorporating it in their trance-inducing son et lumière performances, featuring multiple images projected on huge screens to the accompaniment of live electronic music.

The group was called Sisygambis and they were performing at KLPAC. The music consisted of a mix of sampled sounds and synthesized effects played by Christine Coulange and Nchan Manoyan, who both looked like they might have stepped out of a flying saucer parked just down the road. Anyway, we spent some time cavorting at a nearby waterfall and afterwards they asked me to play some of my wind instruments. I got on so well with them they invited me to visit them in Marseille and perhaps collaborate on some art project with them.

Alas, in 2009, I received word that Nchan had died in a car accident - and that put an abrupt end to my cross-cultural conversation with Sisygambis. I liked Nchan a lot, not just because he had the most amazing bird's nest hairstyle and a wizardly goatee, but he struck me as truly an evolved soul and a very warm human being. Viewing the video above brought back a flood of vivid memories and renewed my soul connection with Sisygambis. I'm glad they are continuing their wonderfully stimulating multimedia projects.

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