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Honorary Collaborator
3 stars OOIOO is a Japanese avant-garde band that aren't afraid to experiment with their sound and try new things and different styles. Led by Yoshimi P-We, the female drummer of the Japanese avant/noise rock band Boredoms, this band is one of the rare examples of an all female band. They tend not to repeat themselves with each album they release. With Gold and Green we see OOIOO making a Krautrock and Space Rock album with many ethnic influences and wide variety of instruments all of this combined with an OOIOO touch to make things fun.

The first thing one listens when the album starts is some tribal sounding percussions and after a few seconds we hear them disappear into an echo. That's only a hint of things to come. The first two songs sound like introduction to the album, although they aren't really special, they help you get into the whole atmosphere of the album. By the third song, Grow sound tree, you'll dive head first into OOIOO's trip! Trippy synth effects, psyched out melodies and a nice drumming backing it all up nicely. After that song the whole albums keeps up with the same trippy atmosphere, but with variety in every song. The first song that shows the quirkiness of OOIOO is I'm A Song which starts with a bang and it's pretty fun to listen to. They're a band that's never trying to be boring and they always sound like they're having fun with their music. Having said that it doesn't mean the album is excellent. Despite all the fun they have and the good songs in the album there are still weak moments. Some songs just aren't that interesting or the songs that sounded fun at the moment (Unu, Idbi and others) get a bit tiresome after repeated listens and the novelty wears off.

This album has great potential, but the bad moments are pushing it down. If you're a fan of ethnic influenced space rock then this will appeal to you, but don't expect anything mind blowing.

Report this review (#106081)
Posted Friday, January 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars OOIOO is not the band one thinks of when the term ''prog'' comes to mind. Their use of repetitive jamming and post-rock guitar sounds might not what the classic progster would wish to come to terms with. But while I feel OOIOO takes their artistic vision seriously, their music is pure fun, plain and simple. It's so organic and free without worrying about falling into someone's good list of what is music that it passes off as Yoshimi and co. having fun with what music can be.

It can be difficult separating the wheat from the chaff in terms of quality tracks because of the very experimental nature of the songs. I personally would not continue listening after ''Idbi'', although ''Emeraldragonfly'' sounds like a garage version of ''De Futura'' (Magma) with an interesting fiddling at the end. The two tracks under one minute are good for interludes, but nothing great and vocally scratchy.

OOIOO has a method for a few songs here like ''Fossil'' and ''Mountain Book''; set up the song softly, slowly get into the groove, jam on it for a bit, get progressively louder and faster, and hit paydirt at the end. ''Fossil'' is especially on point with this as it entices the listener as the song builds on itself in just four minutes. Others like the flute-laden ''Grow Sound Tree'' and the J-pop like ''I'm a Song'' start off powerfully only to get too caught up in experimentative structures and lose steam, especially the latter.

With maestro Yoshimi P-We's stature as a percussionist, several of the tracks (notably ''Moss Trumpeter'', its reprise ''Return to NOW'', the seventh track) are heavy on percussion instruments. The percussion is typically restricted to drumkit like stuff; the lack of variety is a bit lame, especially when you know they dabble with electronic stuff and tribal percussions on TAIGA. Oddly, one of the better tracks is the second one; it's little more than floating keyboards (or clarinets, can't tell), yet so poignant and moving.

With prog rock being one of the more serious genres of music, GOLD AND GREEN is one of those albums like those from classic Gong, the Mothers of Invention and Samla Mammas Manna that is musically worthy yet so much fun to listen to with the music being not that serious. If you can take a few experimental jams and intruding percussion lines, this album is pure joy.

Report this review (#376104)
Posted Friday, January 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Sothoth
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It took something like this to get me out of the doldrums and get back into the swing of listening and writing about music I dig. I've been playing this thing like crazy and it just gets better every time I throw it on. It's playful, mischievous and wild...kind of like that cute but crazy girl that wriggles her way into some slacker dude's mopey life to add spark in so many indie flicks and Korean comedies. And what a band name; I'll be honest in that I'm not too familiar with The Boredoms (in which Yoshimi is their drummer), and that the reason I got into this group in the first place was in fact their funky looking band name. Whatever works I guess, because this album will not be leaving any of my top lists anytime soon.

Avant prog isn't the easiest prog-pill to swallow, but once it's down the hatch the benefits will be felt. Gold And Green mesmerizes by swirling together serene sonic vistas with tribal drumming complementing a playful paganistic wink while sometimes soaring into frantic krautrock psychedelic madness. And some of this stuff grooves like one mean mutha! Damn I need a new pair of shades.

"Moss Trumpeter" sets the mood with its peaceful yet majestic trumpet melody punctuated by some heavy rhythmic percussion, catchy enough to entice yet different enough to wonder what the hell the next tune is going to sound like. I love nutty playful albums like this. The album's heart and soul reveals itself with three mini epics in a row, "Grow Sound Tree", "Mountain Book" and "I'm A Song". "Grow Sound Tree" starts off by a woodwind based loop, although played in organic and wistful fashion. Then the drums kick in. Yoshico is some kind of monster behind the kit, punching out these kickin' beats I get so immersed in that I don't even realize how bizarre and absurd this would sound to some random chump passing by. "Mountain Book" opens as this open air pastoral soundscape overlain with a real sweet vocal melody that repeats itself throughout as the music builds in crescendo to dizzying heights with some insane drumwork. "I'm A Song" has this funky vibe that comes across like a krautrock take on Japanese pop while evolving through occasional tempo changes. You can hear the band having a blast playing this utterly fun yet progressive number.

That ain't all she wrote though; this whole album is essential to my ears these days, although a tune like "Fossil" took a bit of getting used to with its odd chants that eventually won me over after a few plays of the entire album. "Ki No Rukujou Ressha" is flat-out greatness, an instant winner with a driving rhythm, great bass and guitar playing and an energetic playful atmosphere. "Emeraldragonfly" boasts some memorable vocals and one stellar change of pace boosted by strong instrumental skills. These gals can PLAY.

And there's "Idbi". Where would my life be without this song? I don't want to know. It's like a little kitten, puppy and bunny morphed into one cute but weirdly enigmatic critter. It's fun to whistle along with too.

OOIOO has a few other strong efforts out there, with Taiga being in particular noteworthy, but Gold And Green is my jam, and what a glow-in-the-dark wild gold and green colored jam it is!

Report this review (#711496)
Posted Friday, April 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
Retired Admin
4 stars The new and improved Jane Fonda workout (complete with mescaline and psychedelic punk)

When I think about all girl bands I tend to veer into the vicinity of Spice Girls, Destiny's Child, The Supremes, Martha & The Vandellas and those awful Pussycat Dolls.... Until I crossed paths with PA some 6 years ago, I'd never in a million years imagine finding an act like OOIOO with 4 girls strutting their stuff in the more playful and obscure pathways of the avantguarde rock n roll quarters.

WTF?!?!?!! Was my first reaction, when I heard OOIOO. Like a cold sucker punch to the stomach, I'd have to man up to the fact that all my preconceived notions concerning women and music - make that women and experimental music - were basically faulty at heart. Here was a group of women who actually played progressive rock with the force and attitude of a screaming punk creature from the British gutter ca 1977.

I took a chance with this thing after attending a Flaming Lips gig in Denmark's most famous amusement park, Tivoli. I learned that Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots wasn't just a flash way of incorporating Japanese zing into an album title, but actually the name of one of the guests featured on it. 'Great Scott!' I thought to myself, when I then found out about her being in an experimental rock group from Japan with all girls, subsequently ordering their debut the day after with a massive hang over and weird memories of Teletubbies accompanying the entire FL gig dancing joyfully on each side of the stage...

Originally known for playing drums in Boredoms, Yoshimi P-We founded this group sometime around 1997, before opening up for Sonic Youth later in the year. She's played the occasional trumpet toot as well, but somewhere along the line - she switched to the guitar and just about any other instrument you can think of. On this baby she terrorises everything from synths, various flutes, djembe, piano, drums and santoor to a freakin triangle. Joined by fellow kamikaze pilots Kayano(guitar, vocals), Maki(bass) and Yoshico(drums, maracas) Yoshimi seems to have created a modern parallel to the rumbling wild and playful lands of Krautrock.........well at least with Gold & Green that is. There's a primal surge of energy running through the heart of this thing, and simply name-dropping acts like Faust, CAN and LA Düsseldorf feels oddly out of place - even if you hear all those acts emanating through in different layers of the music.

Always managing to stick its sweaty face into the mix, we find tribal percussion, Indian rhythms, hypnotising drones of electronic fluttering bits - THE BEAT ladies and gents! - all of which interweave in extraordinary ways throughout the course of this album. These rhythmic acrobatics are to me the very key to the music. Not only used for traditional purposes, they tend to morph and zoom out of their shells and take on melodic forms. At the same time you'll find the flutes, synths and whatever else being played by Yoshimi mimicking the playful feel coming outta those rhythms - making for a totally unique sound.

With a little bit of J-Pop sensibilities, post punk, RIO, sensuous female gibberish vocals and Indian flair thrown in for good measure, Green & Gold moves away from the prevailing fad with most modern psych rock revivalists, where long and loose jams somehow manage to find their way onto tape. All of this album feels knitted together in a highly precise manner. Nothing is left for chance -not even the tumultuous parts. It's like looking at those breathtaking silk prints from Japan. Pinkish apple blossoms on a background of orange sun and withered trees. There's a similar search for perfection here, even if it takes the music to far away cultures.

Did I forget to mention that Sean Lennon makes a chorus cameo with some vocals? Or that I lost 5 kilos last summer just by dancing to this baby? I probably forgot about the Spice Girls too right?........ No? Well all I can say is that if you're a big fan of the Spice Girls, you're most likely going to love this played at the wrong speed in a dream inside somebody else's dream house. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#978307)
Posted Saturday, June 15, 2013 | Review Permalink

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