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THE TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS ON TOUR (Matsuo Ohno, 1972)

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THE TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS ON TOUR
dir. Matsuo Ohno, 1972
Japan, 102 min.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY!

A travelogue of the most expansive and mind-manifesting sort, Matsuo Ohno’s documentary follows the gargantuan yearlong 1972 tour of his fellow experimental-music frontiersmen, the Fluxus-associated action-artist Takehisa Kosugi’s acid-ambient ensemble Taj Mahal Travellers, as they set out from their native Japan with a rune-inscribed VW Minibus for Scandinavia, meander through Alpine Europe to Rome, Greece and Istanbul, traverse the Middle East via Iran, Kabul and Pakistan to end, finally, at the glittering palace of their namesake, the Taj Mahal itself! Along the way, the band plies its otherworldly improvisational art at areas of intense natural beauty, state-sponsored museums and ancient holy sights – ecstatically fulfilling their self-styled commitment to “play where ever there is a power-source.”

Kosugi’s rambling, spontaneous and worldly compositional method is perfectly matched by his open-ended touring approach, with a heavy emphasis placed on pure immersion in local culture and music. The resultant cinema-verite of the sticklike ebullient longhairs taking in the sights, trying the local fare, jamming on seaside cliffs and hanging with historic heavies like Don Cherry makes for a meditative and mimetic biopic of the entire touring experience, replete with an ever-shifting language-barrier. Ohno, a longtime mentor and collaborator of Kosugi famous for his own pioneering electronic music, proves to be the optimal observant eye for a performance-centric film about, ultimately, the joyous negation of sonic, cultural and music-business protocol.

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