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The IN Flock: A Hundred Birds Orchestra Soars

Add some strings to a pop band and the expression "classically trained" is bound to emerge. In the case of Japanese Chamber-Disco troupe, A Hundred Birds Orchestra, the phrase may be apt, but their music actually draws out the symphonic sounds already present in club music rather than trying to install mirror balls in Symphony Hall.

Every inch of White Stage real estate was occupied by musicians (25 by my count) representing brass, strings, percussion and keys − and don't forget the DJ who brought us in with an extended scratch solo. Dressed almost entirely in black, the crew gave disco and house the red carpet treatment, alternating solos (keyboard, xylophone, trombone) to the slink and bounce you might hear in Club 54 after hours.

Hundred Birds covers an interesting cross-section of the Japanese Musician community. The percussionists looked like bartenders at CBGB's, while the string and horn sections, with their dress slacks and backless evening gowns, looked like they just stepped off a Concord from a weekend in Monaco.

But the focus of attention (mine, at least) was the sultry vocalists who took turns electrifying and already charged crowd. Especially titillating was Sugami, who strut through the lounge-ish track "Amar Gora" before being supplanted by a second vocalist for "Jungle Kitten."

What was especially nice (and rare) was that the string section was tune to compete with everyone else. They even drowned out the brass, occasionally, but for their style of music the added drama was appropriate. Conductor, DJ YOKU brought his crew through each crescendo with ever swelling immediacy, until eventually slowing down with a summertime pop ballad for a shimmering finish. Who said club kids have no class?


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