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Les Pascals

It was last year, in a Tokyo park: we were finally filming the Pascals, a Japanese band that that have fascinated us for years.

Our love for the Pascals is as old as the Blogohthèque. This album came out of nowhere a long time ago, on a small French label, an album whose story was already intriguing: a group of Japanese amateur musicians who had decided to come together to cover the work of…Pascal Comelade, French instrumentalist. It was a chaotic orchestra of a dozen or so people, mixing violins, a musical saw, the squeaking of toys, whistles designed for children, and on occasion an unsure voice. The album had a fragile beauty, naïve and enchanting.

Then the Pascals came to France for a few shows, and every one was enchanting. Matsu, their leader, who overcame his shyness to start every song, the violinists quietly aligned, the banjo player who changed his outfit three times, the cellist who passed a jigsaw over the his instrument’s bow, and the strange one in the corner to the right, chubby and seemingly doubly crazy, Kitano, in a vest, playing with toys, plastic ducks, wind-up monkeys with tambourines, plastic rattles…

We had filmed them in concert, but never elsewhere. So, when we went to Japan last year, we were fixated on the idea of filming them. They said yes, and we found ourselves in Yoyogi Park. The ravens were there by the hundreds, there was a bridge, a small lake. Colin rolled up his pant legs.

Before we’d met them there was hardly anyone there. A few kids loafing around, two or three baseball players, a few wardens who we took care to avoid. The only thing missing was the oddballs: the quiet violinists, the banjo player, the old man with the tambourine who smoked in his corner, and Matsu, the leader with the very Japanese exuberance, entirely concentrated in his smile. The band was afraid of catching the wardens’ attention, and played discreetly in the shadow of a tree. One song to warm up, before the bridge, the ravens and the Matsu’s incredible cry. A cry of pure joy.