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OOIOO - Green and Gold

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Artist: OOIOO

Album: Green and Gold

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Sep. 1, 2005

I had intended this review to begin with a confident statement explaining that just beneath the mechanopop surface of OOIOO’s early efferts lurked the Krautrock beast exposed in full force on 2004’s Kila Kila Kila, and that Gold and Green (originally released in Japan in 2000) was some kind of domestically-unavailable explanation for the radical shift. While track lengths do blossom on G&G, a reexamination of the group’s two earlier efforts (OOIOO and Feather Float) showed me that there was nothing hidden about these Japanese women’s love of experimentation, and what else could be expected from a group whose parent organization is the Boredoms? OOIOO is never gentle for long, and were it not for clever compositions and well-mixed results, the experience might often approach sensory overload.

Fortunately, the huge elemental diversity on G&G is more spread out than on previous efforts, leaving breathing room and allowing each well-crafted sound to sink in. True, tracks like “Mountain Book” build to an overwhelming frenzy, stuffed full to breaking point with tabla, koto, vocalizations and countless other sonic ephemera, but the track begins, simply enough, with a single human voice; no matter how much sound eventually emerges, the voice is “Mountain Book”’s principle ingredient, and consequently, the seven-minute track never looses focus.

On the opposite extreme is the microsuite that comprises the first three tracks. The album opens with nothing but some very simple percussion, interrupted by a dry voice that erupts into heavy delay. As the tribally beautiful “Moss Trumpeter” wends its increasingly sparse way into “Tune” – anything but a tune, with silly harmonica braps and synth accompaniment – longterm juxtaposition itself becomes the most readily perceptible factor. “Grow Sound Tree” picks up on this aesthetic with an extended, hypnotic and hauntingly Reichian polymelodic vignette. Just as the beautiful orchestration threatens to become mundane, drummer Yoshimi kicks in with a monster “funk way underneath” groove that puts the whole work into a new rhythmic perspective. The track fits wonderfully well under the “free your mind and your ass will follow” rubric, as does much of OOIOO’s music. “Tree”’s final dissolve into silence is satisfying on every listen, bringing the first three tracks to a semicircular conclusion.

The rest of this disc, especially the ’70s inspired funk of “I’m a Song” and the ritualistically pounding shrillness of “Return to Now” work along similarly exploratory lines, the latter ending what is clearly an indispensable reissue. Many thanks to Thrill Jockey for making this great music available in this country for the first time.

By Marc Medwin

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