Yoshimi has returned with Gamel, the first album in over five years from her group OOIOO. Her roots date back to 1986 when she appeared on the Japanese noise scene with legendary vocalist Eye as part of the group UFO or Die.
A little bit later, she joined the aforementioned Eye to become a part of the Boredoms. Taking her place behind the drum kit (amongst her various other musical contributions), she became an integral member of the groundbreaking band and even managed to have the Flaming Lips build a concept album around her to boot. Since forming OOIOO in ’97, Yoshimi has continued to blur the lines between experimental and pop, bashing things out with her own all-girl super tribe. Their latest long-player, Gamel, definitely continues that winning streak of batshit-insanity. Drawing influence from the ancient Javanese style of gamelan, which is traditionally a musical ensemble that features a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, drums and gongs; bamboo flutes, bowed and plucked strings. Legend has it that it was originally devised as a percussive way to signal the ancient gods. Taking this ancient music as a jump off point, the group has crafted a masterpiece of an album that shifts in surprising ways both, temporal and stylistic.
The album kicks things off with “Don Ah,” which is a constantly moving piece that manages to channel those classic sources while blending them with more modern psychedelic and krautrock oriented moves – moving back and forth between sounds and textures in a way that leaves one feeling completely disoriented in the best possible way. “Shizuku Gunung Agung” with its constant chants of ‘One Up,’ along with its weird rhythms, loops and squiggles; is definitely one that creates a state of mind that opens up some sort of nightmarish fever dream. The type that conjures the NES-playing 12 year old inside of myself; mashed together with the 16 year old version who is forever getting his mind blown by the first time he heard Pop Tatari. Continually pulling the rug out from beneath the listener is the name of the game here and under Yoshimi’s leadership, OOIOO pull it off in spades.
Other highlights include the Can-like tribalism of “Atatawa.” At times, the quick cuts and stylistic jumps on tracks including “Jesso Testa” are almost akin to early Mothers of Invention but with a ton more soul. While the experimental sounds of Yoshimi’s ensemble may not be for everyone, the more adventurous among us may find a few slices of true musical transcendence lurking between the grooves of Gamel. Maybe even enough to wake an ancient deity or two.
Genre/ Tags: Experimental, Pop, Gamelan
Gamel LP: Tracklist:
1.) Don Ah
2.) Shizuku Gunung Agung
4.) Gamel Ninna Yama
5.) Gamel Uma Umo
6.) Gamel Kamasu
8.) Jesso Testa
9.) Gamel Udahah
10.) Kecupat Aneh
11.) Gamel Ulda