Wednesday, June 18, 2008

OOIOO - TAIGA (2006)


This is global underground music steeped in the enchantment of nature, the mystery of drones, the iconoclasm of Kraut and the energy of Yosakoi, driven throughout by a massive percussion workout that only pauses for lonesome trumpet blares and vocal squawks. Just maybe, if Pharaoh Sanders established a school of avant-garde composition in the forests of Finland, the inaugural graduation concert might sound something like this - assuming the mushrooms were potent enough.

“We came down from the North,” is all brother/sister duo The Knife want us to know, while OOIOO are still striving to get there, channelling sound through the tundra, taiga and Nordic forests with all their celestial and shamanistic peculiarities. Both groups are essentially about drums and their ancient purpose of uniting humans in mass ritual: in OOIOO’s case the cumulative ability of slender female Japanese to bash out a rhythm that could topple a mastodon; in The Knife’s case, processed beats lash out to create a euphoric, post-rave Nuremberg. Both groups shun all kinds of celebrity deeds and use video and projection to guard, rather than propagate, their identities. In these two videos for OOIOO and The Knife, Japanese directors spin ecological themes into a hypnotic final product that is as far removed from standard video iconography (band striving to present itself as marketable) as the sound strays from conventional musical forms.

Barely appreciated now, these will be the hipster albums of 2030. Just as some of us now affect to like a soundtrack of early 80s East Village jazz-skronk, a product of the sheer boredom and its partner freedom that have become unknowable to us in our internet age, our children will swim deeply in the ‘boredom and freedom’ of the late 00s.

In Japanese, Taiga means "big river"; in Russian, it's "forest." Both are apt descriptions for the dense, winding, jungle-like music OOIOO craft on this, their fifth album. Not to push the connection too much, but Taiga's multilingual meanings could also allude to the band's magpie-like ability to pick the most vital, interesting sounds from other cultures and fashion them into what feels like world music from an alternate universe. Despite the Japanese and Russian meanings of "taiga," the most prominent influence on Taiga comes from Africa: dense African jazz and lilting African folk-inspired guitar melodies play large roles on most of the album's tracks.

Most importantly, the album is a beautiful demonstration of how OOIOO keep changing and innovating without losing touch with what made them distinctive in the first place. Their inspired, eclectic mix of sounds and textures is always playful, but Taiga's powerful playing and sophisticated arrangements make it OOIOO's most mature album yet.


!WARNING! Track one - "Uma" is not included (shit happens) and you can download it here - OOIOO - Uma


Anonymous said...

Incomplete, track 1 missing.

Panda Slayer said...

Damn, I'll upload it:) Sorry.

Anonymous said...

great service, thanks! :-)

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