Clarice Jensen`s Ainu Mosir is the Brooklyn-based composer`s first foray into film – the soundtrack to Takeshi Fukunaga`s drama of the same name. A feature focused on Japan’s indigenous people – the Ainu – who made their home in northern Honshu, southern Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands. Set in Hokkaido, in Kushiro City’s Lake Akan Ainu settlement, it tells the tale of a teenage boy torn and stifled by tradition – cramped by the confines of his village. Much of the story conveyed by dance, music and ritual, it raises complicated issues around customs and heritage – about what should be preserved and what should be lost. I haven’t seen the movie. It`s available to stream in most countries – but – oddly – it`s not on Netflix here in Japan. Perhaps because it likely also poses political questions about the Ainu`s plight – who in the past have been the subject of legislative discrimination. Erased from history books, and forgotten.
Taken out context – separating the sounds from the visions for which they were intended – Clarice`s score summons fresh images, as I listen, eyes closed, trying to guess the instruments beneath the treatment. Knowing that its author works primarily with cello, and tape. But as the suite opens I hear piano – the buzz and burr of hammer hitting strings. A building hum of distant machinery. The percussive rattle of sticks and canes giving way to new age drones, and busy, pretty, electronic patterns. High frequency fanfares. Oscillations, vibrations, almost like hunting horns. Sequences stretched backward. Details scurrying, rustling in a slowly evolving classical work. Quiet, unhurried, uncluttered. Suggestive of lives lived the same way. Behind my lids I see bright sunlit landscapes, empty save the horizon, nature’s wow and wonder. Perhaps touched by frost and snow – but maybe that’s just because I know Hokkaido.
You can purchase Clarice Jensen`s Ainu Mosir directly from Fatcat & 130701.