Sounds unique to Japan and modern electronic dance beats fused and harmonized together to play music for a diverse audience at the Grand Salon at the University Student Union on Wednesday.
AUN (pronounced aah-uhn), is an electro-acoustic group made up of twin brothers Ryohei and Kohei Inoue originally from Osaka, Japan.
After 12 years of performing and touring with Ondekoza, an internationally known drumming group, the two brothers formed AUN and proceeded to travel and perform all over South America, parts of Europe and South Asia, their native Japan as well as the United States.
Their original sound, known as “Japatronica” is created by combining Japanese instruments namely the Taiko drums, Shamisen and Shinobue, along with a variety of electronic beats.
Wednesday’s performance began with the twins on their own sets of Taiko drums producing loud and ominous sounds similar to that of ancient war drums.
The sound of the drums combined with the enigmatic sounds of modern electronic beats that can be heard in a techno club, produced a harmonized piece that left enraptured expressions on the faces of many audience members.
While the Taiko drums were the main show, the music of AUN could not have remained true to its multi-faceted signature sound without the incorporation of other instruments.
A violinist from Tokyo softened a few of the group’s pieces resulting in a combination of fierceness with subtlety.
AUN’s first overseas performances since Ondekoza was in 2003 in India and Pakistan.
Among those responsible for organizing Wednesday’s performance were the music department, the Japanese section of the modern and classical languages and literatures department, and the newly chartered club JishinDaiko.
“JishinDaiko is a club dedicated to Japanese culture in general, including music,” Joel Mankey, a member of the club and a recent graduate of music composition said.
“We organize lectures and performances that relate to the culture and this was one of them,” he said.
Wednesday’s performance here on campus was one stop of the group’s 100 School Tour, a cultural venture AUN has embarked on to allow American students to experience both modern and traditional Japanese culture.
AUN displayed their mastery of the Taiko drums during one piece in which soft but rapid suspense-building- taps transpired into loud energetic beats that synchronized with the effervescent energy of the violinist.
The powerful pounding on the Taiko drums, made of cow skin and tightly bound by ropes, demanded Herculean strength as one of the musicians managed to break a drumstick in half during one piece.
Not limited to the Taiko drums, the brothers’ talent extends to various other Japanese instruments. Ryohei and Kohei stepped aside from the drums to play the Shamisen, a guitar-shaped instrument that produces melancholy sounds.
Ryohei also played the Shinobue, which is a Japanese flute.
The music of the Shinobue had a distinct sound, which was reminiscent of an image of a Japanese garden with orchid trees all around.
One particularly exceptional piece very well received by the audience combining the Shinobue flute, the Taiko drums and the violin and was reflective of Japan’s duality of modernity and tradition.
After the performance, instead of running off of the stage to head for their next venue, the group conducted an interactive workshop that allowed students to play the Taiko drums. During the workshop, Ryohei would play a melody on the drums and the volunteers would imitate it using their own drumsticks.
The workshop allowed some students who have no knowledge of musical instruments to play one and some others to experience international music first-hand.