Intriguing avant rock workouts from ex Boredoms members indulging their Krautrock...
Nick Reynolds 2004
You are in a Japanese garden. Some wind chimes tinkle in the breeze, a woman babbles contentedly in Japanese. In the corner, by the goldfish pool, an electric guitar. Power chords echo through the landscape. The effect is charming, and gently enjoyable.
Some of ooIoo used to be in Japanese art punk terrorists The Boredoms, but they are a different kind of animal, the kind you want to sit in your lap and pet. Don't be put off by the first track ("Kila Kila" itself) where someone in a bad temper attacks a keyboard for a minute and a half. The rest is accessible and attractive.
Most tracks start with random sounds or vocal effects, before metamorphosising into long, funky, improvised grooves for drums, bass and guitar. Simple, vaguely oriental guitar figures alternate with aggressive chords and playing. Vocalist Yoshimi adds intriguing touches of colour on trumpet and keyboards. And there's some lovely strings adding some extra sweetness.
Most of these tracks are long (at least eight minutes each) , but only one "Niko Niko" doesn't go anywhere. "On Mani" builds to a jolly, rollocking 'a hunting we will go' theme on trumpet and guitar, while "Annenne An" adds gentle and rather delightful piano. The best track is the epic (fifteen minutes long) "Aster". It starts with a long hair raising drone section for cellos and chanting before moving into a fractious broken funk section, with a slight touch of Beefheart and some rapping in Japanese and English. Next comes some guitar abuse, feedback and a more organised groove before returning to the opening drone.
This is the kind of music that gets labelled "experimental" when it's actually perfectly listenable to anyone with a pair of ears. This is not scary. ooIoo are the opposite side of the coin to the aural terror of the likes of Black Dice: joyous, playful and surprisingly relaxing.