Have you ever noticed how some things, put forth as art, garner attention simply because they’re hard to understand? Matthew Barney immediately comes to mind, as does Vincent Gallo. Something must happen in the cosmos of the brain that translates a confused reaction into an immediate approval or praise for the unknown. The same reaction governs a handful of Japanese avant-garde artists. The Boredoms are entirely worthy of their place on the art chart, but when you look at all the Boredoms spin-offs, elements of the aforementioned rule can be applied. Just because artists have had success in one experimental collective doesn’t always make them primed to be the next John Zorn.
Shove OOIOO (pronounced oh-oh-eye-oh-oh) into this picture of appreciation and we now have something to talk about. OOIOO is fronted by Yoshimi P-We – and, yes, that name is frighteningly familiar to you for two reasons. First, Yoshimi is one of the drummers from the Boredoms, and second, hers is the name behind – and she’s the pseudo inspiration to – the Flaming Lips’ concept piece Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. Now that Yoshimi has a bit of name recognition, Thrill Jockey is releasing her all-female avant group’s fourth album, Gold and Green. It may seem like a hop along the good ol’ bandwagon, but OOIOO fits with Thrill Jockey’s experimental jazz hunger.
Typical of OOIOO’s style, Gold and Green is not easy to pigeonhole. It takes a little from the electronic world, some elements of jazz-fusion, and some inspiration from the spacey pop drones of Stereolab. What’s more, Gold and Green shows that after four albums and seven years at the helm, Yoshimi has improved her guitar skills. Admittedly a novice on the axe, Yoshimi has found more melody in her guitar work as the years have passed. Gold and Green holds more rhythmic rivers than previous releases, like “I’m A Song,” with its catchy bass, rolling drums and Kim Gordonstyle vocals. And it feels necessary to name-check Yuka Honda (Cibo Matto) and Sean Lennon’s work on the space choir jam “Mountain Book” if we’re giving her avant work the official art stamping.
Gold and Green won’t be changing your life anytime soon, unless your every movement rests in Japanese kitsch. For those of us without the need for hundreds of robot models and perfectly designed toys, OOIOO is a break from the ordinary and a more approachable form of experimental music. Gold and Green holds some wonderful sounds – and others that just seem strange for the sake of being strange. But what ultimately shines though the layers of thick instrumentation and pulsing voices is a band that is worthy of its avant-garde stamp and successful in its attempts.
“Grow Sound Tree” Video:
OOIOO on Thrill Jockey’s Web site: http://www.thrilljockey.com/artists/?id=10034
Thrill Jockey’s Web site: http://www.thrilljockey.com/