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OOIOO - Taiga CD (album) cover

TAIGA

OOIOO

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.24 | 36 ratings

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Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Music like you've never experienced before.

OOIOO is a very low-key band that hasn't garnered much attention except possibly to fans of the Japanese noise-rock group Boredoms. TAIGA is one of the project's more recent efforts and my first try with the group, bypassing any earlier works and the Boredoms projects.

It suffices to say that my impression of this effort is this; it blew me away. I didn't think this was possible in music.

The overall musical palette is very diverse, very eclectic and very abstract in terms of genres that influenced TAIGA. One could call it world music without question. I would describe the music as organic, embryonic, ethereal and strange, and even though I say this too often, you really have to hear the album in order to get my drift.

The leadoff ''UMA'' and the show-stopper ''UMO'' are essentially the same track under different musical textures. ''UMA'' has this pressure chamber, electronic type of sound featuring machine drumming (not drum machines, sorry if I scared you) and mechanical guitars. ''UMA'' could count as an industrial-electronic piece. ''UMO'' is another animal; this has a tribal, almost wildlife sound to it. You'll here flutes, big, booming (what sound like) buffalo-skin drums, whistles and allsorts. The main appeals for ''UMO'' are its pace and its gradual build to an effective climax.

I say that ''UMO'' and ''UMA'' are the same because the same chant is used for both pieces. I find this to be astounding because you rarely hear of a band rewriting their own tune and using it in under a completely different genre and still being effective. ''UMO'' in particular is one of the pieces that floored me the first time I listened to it and the backup singers are spot on.

''KMS'' changes the musical landscape after the vaccuuming opener, preferring a laidback, almost Krautrock approach. ''KMS'' centres around the guitar webbings that give the tune its Krautrock kudos, but we have tribal drumming in the accompaniment. Believe it or not, this is the weakest overall track.

''UJA'' gets better with its hypnotic, tribal, mechanical and demented opening line that has that embryonic development you can detect just by listening. Even stranger still, Yoshimi's vocals sound akin to that of a Japanese pop sensation coming off of a sugar rush. The song gets really demented when all we're left with are the girls freakishly chanting, and then the song goes techno as if we've just landed on a dancy pop album. This kind of genre play is something only a few bands can pull off successfully, and I feel that OOIOO is one of those bands.

''GRS'' might constitute as filler for most, but I think the soundscape here is enjoyable. I mentally picture a New England rocky shoreline with waves crashing against it and sirens are beckoning beyond the horizons. By the way, there appear to be accordion sounds here that give the piece a ''maritime'' aura.

''ATS'' has more embryonic, tribal drumming with various beautiful vocals and witch-like chanting supplied by the group. Like ''UJA'', the strength of this piece is the embryonic developing of the piece. It's so organic, you'd think the piece was breathing. The ebbing and flowing of the piece is what draws the listener in, just to see if the piece can get turbulent (because it sounds like it's heading in that direction). The payoff is a semi-loud trip hop/J-pop variant of the theme.

''IOA'' closes the album (saving the best piece for last here) with the worst moment of the album; Yoshimi singing off key. You can relax; that part only lasts for a few seconds as we get splendid three-part vocals over a trippy guitar line. We later hear that guitar line slowed down at the end in a more tropical styling.

I saved the best for last as ''SAI'' really lives up to being the big epic of the album. It starts of with some of the most excellent guitar textures painting beautiful mental pictures this side of the post-rock genre. This is before OOIOO decides to pervert that them into a menacing electronic-tribal thing with Yoshimi giving a demented lead vocal performance while the backup singers create somewhat of a sayonce. However, by the one-third mark, we've shifted to a bass-led tribal theme that gets sped up at the sound of Yoshimi chirping schizophrenically. This new sped-up theme carries a ton of intensity as it constantly builds on itself, and you get the feeling like you're being hunted by a madman. And best yet, there's a short pause before reviving the theme in a different context. As soon as the madness is over, some of the best guitar work graces the ending which is a reprise of the first theme. Well worth sitting through.

Surprisingly, TAIGA has this unique electronic/tribal/J-pop sound throughout the album despite sound checking many other genres. Unless you're familiar with some post-rock, this album will sound like NOTHING you've ever heard before, and that may drive listeners away. I'm sure many progsters will listen to TAIGA, only to reject it as impenetrable experimentalism with acquired taste vocals and unnecessary genre checks. Don't get too discouraged if TAIGA doesn't floor you on the first listen; these pieces are very difficult to grasp and it takes patience in order to understand this bizarre world of an album. I'm one of those rare exceptions that DID get floored almost immediately because I don't like to keep hearing the same type of music over and over again.

If you're a musical risk-taker, then here's your adrenaline fix. TAIGA is one of those ''rough'' sounding albums that possesses this mysterious beauty to it. This album holds little in comparions to a large portion of the PA groups, even in the RIO section. Take a chance and get your feet wet with this; sooner or later, everything will make sense and you'll start chanting along with Yoshimi in ''UMO''.

A quirky, yet dizzyingly satisfying masterpice of progressive music.

Sinusoid | 5/5 |

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