It seems appropriate that in these corona viral times the “Behind the Mask” saga should continue its voyage through the ages. A song lyric first recorded by Ryuichi Sakamoto for the group Yellow Magic Orchestra and since covered by such illustrious musicians as Michael Jackson and Eric Clapton, the “mask” has had a further dimension recently added to its rostrum.
For decades Chris has been asked innumerable times “Ok, so what’s behind the mask?” and thus, being sequestered in his house in Kyoto for the last year, in the traditional environs of the ancient capital, he thought it was the perfect opportunity and conditions to answer that repetitive query. Therefore — a hundred haiku — each poem exemplifying an image of a culture that defines the initial song and observes the people and the social settings that have influenced his lyrical output.
Working with the photographer Ryo Ohwada a hundred photos have been selected to expand the poetic imagery, and the poems have been translated into traditional haiku format by the translator Ryoichi Ito. Together with a “project team” of publisher/producer Tomoya Kumagai and writer Eiichi Yoshimura, the set is being developed into an interactive collection of “karura” cards, based on the 10th century anthology of “one hundred poems by one hundred poets” (hyakuninishuu) traditionally played on New Year’s Day.
*image: (100) Behind the Mask: a constellation of fireflies guiding me on.
More selections from One Hundred Haiku are in The Word Smithy!
A thirty-six poem saga, numerically based on the anthology of the Thirty-Six Immortal Women Poets collected during the Kamakura Period of Japan (1185-1333).
A hundred haiku — each poem exemplifying an image of a culture that defines the initial song and observes the people and the social settings that have influenced his lyrical output.
At the inauguration of the Ace Hotel, Kyoto, the lyricist wrote the “poetic scenario” to accompany the composition by French conductor Yannick Paget.
A rare event at Kyoto’s Koshoji Temple – poetry, gagaku, environmental soundscape and the recitation of Buddhist sutra.
A multimedia remix of the Tanabata legend set in contemporary Tokyo with a stellar cast of artists and musicians.
Recently Chris has forged a close partnership with the inimitable “cosmic pink” avant-garde musician Coppe.
A busy and energizing year on the performance circuit.
A bilingual reading from “The City that Silk Built” at Beams Gallery Shinjuku, and a momentary photo op.
A poem to accompany the “Peace Flame of Hiroshima” at a series of events throughout Japan.
Collaborating with the young guitarist Ris (The Sonic Squirrel) Chris has written lyrics for a series of new ventures.
Chris’s poetic scenario informs seasonal symphonies in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Stravinky’s RITE OF SPRING.
The hazy line between myth, memory and Michael Jackson’s recording of Chris’ lyric “Behind the Mask”.
An exhibition of the contemporary “47 Ronins,” opened at the Spiral Garden Gallery, and all of Chris’s hands were on display.
Chris’s poem Aorta Avenue, based on the great Tokyo 246 highway, wins the Colorado Festival of Literature Grand Prize for Poetry.
On display at the 20th Anniversary of Harakuku’s Laforet Museum – a time capsule containing a collection the lyricist’s notebooks and pens.
A set of cards, based on the Japanese New Year’s game: “Karuta” with images, shot in Shibuya, by photographer Yuriko Takagi.
The Oblivion Brotherhood performed SPLATTERHEAD on tour across the US.
Chris was commissioned to write the scenario/script for the masked dance drama AMATERASU (THE SUN GODESS).
A “rhythm blizzard” of theme song lyrics written for Japanese anime, together with the legendary composer Yoko Kanno.
EQUASIAN, Chris’s classic “VISIC” (visual music) opus is re-released in all its soft-cased, limited edition glory through Sony Music.
Collaborating with French photographer/film director Marc Rigaudis, Chris composed the musical score for Etrange Cuisine.
Sarah Brightman recorded the song When Firebirds Sing—an operatic opus set in the arena of ancient Japan, with lyrics by Chris.
The lyricist continues his partnership with the composer Yoko Kanno with a song for the finale of the anime WOLF’S RAIN.
The Incendiary Orchestra showcases Chris’s latest book: “City of Song,” with a fiery performance at Tokyo’s SuperDeluxe.
On April 25, 2005, a commuter train at Amagasaki, near Osaka derailed. Chris wrote healing lyrics to a song sent to the families.
Chris writes the theme song for the mega-hit thirteen part anime TV series Spice and Wolf (Okame to Koshinryo).
Chris’s seal: “mo-zu” translated literally reads: “one hundred tongues” — ideograms representing the bird “the shrike” found in his lyrics.
Chris was invited by the Institute of Tagore Studies and Research at Santiniketan, West Bengal, for a stay as “visiting fellow”.
Suddenly resurrected lyrics were picked up by virtuoso violinist Chieko Kinbara for album Velvet Night, sung by Ingrid Schroeder.
Six “medicinal” songs for VITAMIN Q – a group with roots in Japan and strong ties to England.
While promoting his Yellow Fever album (an ingenious Latin interpretation of YMO songs) “Senor Coconut” met our lyricist in Tokyo.
In a parallel universe, Chris wrote and illustrated “Silly Billy Trilogy: A Collection of Utter Mozzsense” under his pen name Mozz.
A documentary focusing of the Chris’s evolution as a lyricist has debuted.