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"Arminico Hewa"
Thrill Jockey, 2009
Buy it at insound

She has an album named after her, is a member of one Japan’s most celebrated bands, yet Yoshimi P-we can’t get no respect. Everybody’s talking about high-energy, cosmic bands with outrageous singers (I’m looking at you Ponytail), as if OOIOO hasn’t been doing this shtick since 1995.

OOIOO’s great release, Taiga, has sat on the shelf since 2006. The same all-women quartet behind that album is back for this release. As with Taiga, the sounds on Arminico Hewa are all over the place. Bolstered by tribal drums, discombobulated guitar work filled with interesting riffs, and vocals that recall animal calls or prayers to aliens or something, there’s plenty of diversity to keep things interesting. “Ironrun” goes from what sounds like intense first day jamming sounds into a locked riff and vocals that go from being tremolo heavy to what sounds like a microphone at the bottom of a well.

“Ulda” brings out that washed-out kids’-synthesizer sound and pairs it with tribal drums that sound recorded in another room in the same way that makes stuff like The Skaters sound so good. A funk bass anchors “Polaaca” with a tight groove for the first three minutes before it starts to get out into space. It’s practically dub in it’s production style, with the vocals and guitar getting panned back and forth through some sick phasers before dissolving again into a totally different type of song, one full of duck walk sounding keyboard riffs and cooing vocals, only to change again, this time into a marimba, drums and guitar trying to outdo each other with chanting riffs.

That mélange of styles is just the first half of the album, and it could leave your head spinning a little. This variety is what one would expect from early Boredoms albums, but OOIOO go for more precision whereas those Boredoms albums were more about chaos and power. There is no point where OOIOO overwhelms the listener with the style changes, and it’s certainly no assault to the ears.

The title “Arminico Hewa” is a cross-cultural combination of Spanish and Swahili and is defined by the band as “air in a harmonious state.” Harmony does not come across in the strictest sense of the word, however, this record’s rapid shifts between sounds proof OOIOO is one of the tightest bands on the planet, capable of making their own version of practically anything they want.

By Andrew Murdock Livingston.
August 29, 2009

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