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OOIOO - Taiga CD (album) cover

TAIGA

OOIOO

RIO/Avant-Prog


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4 stars Once again, OOIOO doesn't fail to surprise. I think I've referred to their music as "organic", and it couldn't be more true with "Taiga". If "Kila Kila Kila" got off much too slow for you, the opening track here more than makes up for it. Beginning with fast, tribal drum playing, "UMA" starts things off at breakneck speed. Soon, call-and-response chanting begins, almost like at a high school pep rally. This is really where most of the album's foundation lies- tribal-like drum beats. It's that which gives "Taiga" the organic feel I mentioned earlier. Just like in other OOIOO albums, the guitar loops and electronic blips and bleeps abound, but it's all held together by that one cohesive unit that gives this album its unique character.

Things slow down a bit in "KMS", featuring a sliding bass line and a great trumpet workout by Yoshimi. "UJA" brings more electronics into the mix and looping guitars, giving it an almost danceable groove towards the end. A personal favorite of mine is "GRS" has a beautiful vocal performance over an ever present accordion line and some steel drums in the latter portion of the song. Overall, it's very calm and refreshing. The album's upbeat nature is restored with "ATS" with the inclusion of more world percussion and the return of the chanting vocals along side various screams. The album's epic track, the 15-minute "SAI" takes the listener on a tangled path of dual guitar lines and more percussion workouts before sliding into an droning, atmospheric part, propelled by more drums and keyboard and vocal parts that make me feel like I'm in the middle of a jungle or on wild open plains. "UMO" is strongly reminiscent but a different expression of the opening track "UMA". The album closes with "IOA", probably the best song on the album. It feels like all of the ideas found previously are mashed up together, strained of the fluff, and arranged into a brilliant album closer.

I feel very strongly that OOIOO has something brilliant going on here and every time I listen to "Taiga" I think I'm closer to understanding it, and then I realize I'm not. Whatever it is, this is an perfectly executed album (if there ever was such a thing) considering the music being played. I find new things going on in this album each time I give it a spin. Who knows, maybe it will become one of my favorite albums.

Standout songs: "GRS", "IOA

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Send comments to Arsillus (BETA) | Report this review (#126270)
Posted Monday, June 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars "Yoshimi Battles the Human Condition" Taiga Album Review, by Gaynor E. Ritchewright III Rating: 10 out of 10 or 5 Stars

Neolithic Earth; that is, prehistory of humankind, conjures up vivid, albeit generally exaggerated images of smeared body paint, unbridled bonfires, pagan sacrifices, gorilla warfare and dizzying, erotic and often-times drug-induced dance of direct nature. But despite these retroactive misgivings, tribal rites and rituals are some of the most oft-romanticized and misunderstood aspects of the Journey of Man. Enter OOIOO; an avant-garde collective of eccentric, virtuosi Japanese musicians determined to eradicate the most "sacred" dimension of modern civilization: Inhibition. Led by notorious alt-rocker Yoshimi P-We of the seminal first-wave alternative rock band Boredomes; OOIOO supposedly started out as a "fake" band appearing in a Tokyo magazine spread. Laying down her drum kit (partially) in leu of an electric guitar and vocals, they quickly evolved into one of the most bizarre, mind-altering bands performing in the Japanese underground today. Performing scantily-clad, smeared in neon body paint, the all-female avant-troupe eschew any immediate thoughts of gimmick when they begin to play their strange brew of toxic, asymmetrical guitar lines, repetitive riffs, cheerleading harmony vocals, hypnotic drumming and vocal screaming the likes of which would make even notorious warbler Yoko Ono cringe. But it is not eccentricity for the sake of eccentricity that makes OOIOO so appealing, it's the fact that they're bizarre in spite of all the highly-compressed quasi-political Green Day clones that so clog the airwaves of mainstream consumption. The very idea of dragging mankind back to the very brink of free experimentation, amoral behavior and limitless pleasure is certainly an enticing, yet ultimately unobtainable notion. Taiga, which means "big river" in Japanese and "forest" in Russian, perfectly exemplifies the bands uniform mission: wild, often-times erratic screaming courtesy of P-We; dirty, fuzzed-out guitar lines that conjure the source of Kurt Cobain's cathartic purges from both P-We and Kayan; meditative, contemplative bass lines from Aya recall perfectly the serene majesty of the 'forest' and 'rivers' of our primitive past along with repetitive, heavily African-influenced drumming from duo AI and Yo2ro Tatekawa (the latter from Boredoms) place the unyielding vision of Yoshimi P-We to life with relevant relief. Ultimately, the Journey back to humankind's beginning of harmony with the Sacred Feminine isn't one suited for every potential listeners abilities, but rewards are infinite for those brave enough to foray civility. A personal recommendation if it too isn't censored.

Download: Highlight: Additional Guests: Japan Release/US-UK Release: All SAI - Thiam Misato - additional percussion -Yes/Yes - Tonchi - additional percussion

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Send comments to hasheten (BETA) | Report this review (#161666)
Posted Tuesday, February 12, 2008 | Review Permalink
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.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#293133)
Posted Monday, August 02, 2010 | Review Permalink
siLLy puPPy
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Starting out like caffeinated cheerleaders with a tribal drum circle it's obvious from the getgo that the all-female ensemble of OOIOO is a unique musical force and has peaked my full attention throughout the entirety of the album. Although labelled as experimental and to be fair, it is that, this isn't the kind of experimental music that leaves you wondering what drugs they were ingesting to come up with ideas that exist in their own universe. Not at all. This is highly accessible while simultaneously taking you on a sonic sidetrip that I for one have not had the pleasure of travelling before hearing this.

This album has eight tracks that are all only three letters long. It has many different musical elements but it's not hard to strip away the veneer to see what's lurking beneath the surface. These girls have truly mastered a complete fusion of noise rock with tribal drumming with a kind of traditional Japanese like guitar riffing surrounded by electronic effects. The vocals always make me think of Japan as there is a very traditional feel to it as well as experimental. This isn't avant-garde to the point where it seems like it was composed on other worlds.

There is a sensual female aggressiveness to the whole thing. Kinda like the Go-Gos joined Melt Banana and invited a tribal drumming circle to jam. Every song is different and the album flows to the end without a shred of boredom, well except for Yoshimi P-We who is also in The Boredoms. She alone contributes the guitar, vocals, djembe, bongo, synthesizer, piano, Jew's harp and talking drum.

This music is unique, intense and amazingly diverse. If you want a new musical trip that really falls outside the boundaries of any musical genres that doesn't leave you scratching your head in dismay because it is absolutely so outside of your musical reality then this is will surely grab your attention and sustain it throughout multiple listens as it has with me. Accessible and avant-garde. Bold and beautiful. Cute, cuddly and crazy. 4.5 rounded up

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Send comments to siLLy puPPy (BETA) | Report this review (#1092113)
Posted Wednesday, December 18, 2013 | Review Permalink

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