Ooioo (in case you’re wondering it’s pronounced oh-oh-eye-oh-oh) is the side project of Yoshimi P-We, who is, amongst other things, the drummer from the Boredoms. She was the muse for Flaming Lips‘ Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, and she was a member of Kim Gordon’s band Free Kitten.
As you might expect from someone who is in the Boredoms and who has been involved with Sonic Youth projects, Ooioo is very much an experimental band. If the word experimental puts you off, then it is at this juncture that you should be informed that Gold and Green is an outstanding record. It was originally released in Japan in 2000 preceding the only album that has been available in the West by some three years, 2003’s Kila Kila Kila. Gold and Green does not sound dated however, in fact in a somewhat bizarre quirk, Gold and Green somehow sounds like a progression from Kila.
Where Kila Kila Kila was an album that took free jazz as a starting point (check out the fabulous track On Mani), Gold and Green ambles gently through ambient territory. It would also be fair to say that Gold and Green finds its mark far more consistently than Kila, despite being a far more expansive and rambling album.
Te Ku Te Ku Tune may appear to be little more than a series of untrained honks on a harmonica, but when set against an unearthly yet childlike electronic accompaniment it seems to make perfect sense. Ooioo’s playful approach does lend the music a sparkling innocence on a number of occasions. It is probably most noticeable in the interplay between Yosihmi’s voice (gently lilting, and sometimes mouse like) and the rattling percussion of songs like Mountain Book. The music Ooioo create has a purely innate quality to it, and it is this that makes it almost impossible to not love this album.
Like the Boredoms later work, Gold and Green features some truly hypnotic tribal drumming, Yoshimi, it would appear, fully appreciates that there is joy in repetition. Where Ooioo differ from the Boredoms however is that they fly far closer to the world of pop than you may perhaps imagine. Admittedly, it is still the most avant-garde pop you’ve ever heard, but it is still pop.
I’m a Song bolts off like a stampede of super-funky horses before heading off to the outer reaches of space, where they just hang out and begin naming the stars. Emeraldragonfly meanwhile captures the voice of Shirley Bassey and holds it captive in a jar full of ether. The results are full of space, thoroughly complex, yet utterly simplistic, and completely compelling.
Aside from the music, Gold and Green is worth checking out for the packaging of the album itself. The CD is presented in a gatefold lp style sleeve, and features artwork from Yoshimi that is as inspired as the music she produces. Even her artwork manages to find a unique balance between simplistic and confusingly complex.