Afrirampo - We Are Uchu No Ko - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Afrirampo - We Are Uchu No Ko

by Rich Morris Rating:8 Release Date:2010-09-13

If you are a late comer to the weird, wonderful and terrifically loud world of Japanese duo Afrirampo then here's the bad news: they decided to split before this double album's release. The good news? We Are Uchu No K - a gonzo, unhinged, hard rocking, all-riffing beast of an album - is the perfect jumping on point to catch up on what you've been missing.

Opening with the riot grrrl-meets-Hawkwind, prog-punk madness that is 'Miracle Lucky Girls', We Are Uchu No Ko is a crazy, Technicolor, unrelenting ride. Reference points include The Boredoms, Sleater-Kinney, Acid Mother's Temple, Gong, Yoko Ono, Battles, Can, Faust, Deerhoof as well as any number of simple but genius power pop tracks. Like Deerhoof, Oni (guitar, vocals) and Pikachu (drums, vocals) consistently get the balance just right between downright weird, tricky time signature art rock and purely joyful, head-bang-inducing riffage. Many of the tracks are long and expansive, but never get boring. 'Sore Ga Afrirampo' skips dementedly but good naturedly between bizarre stop-start klang and classic pop crunch. The trance-inducing 'UMI', meanwhile, is as out there as space rock can get, and as primal and tribal as bones beating on drum skins. Then they go and sucker you with the beautifully sweet and tender 'Whyto', complete with fluttery flute and affectingly simple vocals.

And when Afrirampo choose to rock, you really have to salute them. 'Tou Zai Nan Boku' begins with a seismic, planet-shaking guitar workout which would send Jimmy Page scurrying for a hiding place. It's great, accomplished rock music, but what really shines through is its creator's playful spirit, a wilful, completely punk refusal to stick to the rock cliché rulebook - an attitude which makes them kindred spirits of The Slits and The Raincoats as well as more recent purveyors of woman-centred rock such as Trash Kit, Erase Errata and Ponytail. The album's first disc closes with the effortlessly anthemic, soaring 'Yah Yah Yeah', which sounds like Cheap Trick and Boston jamming with a baby Björk on vocals. Yes - that good.

Along with Mi Ami's Steal Your Face, We Are Uchu No Ko is one of the few albums to emerge in 2010 which genuinely attempts to stretch the sonic boundaries of what can be achieved with just the basic instruments of guitar and drums. It's brave and fearless in a way so few rock records are these days. The multitude of reference points thrown up in this review are mostly pointless, because what We Are Uchu No Ko really sounds like is freedom. Soundblab has no flipping idea what Oni and Pikachu are babbling and yelping about on any of the songs here, but it doesn't matter. Their message is as old as the hills and still vital: noise is freedom, make yourself heard, express yourself, don't play it safe, don't play by the rules.

If this credo strikes a chord with you, We Are Uchu No Ko is an album you really need to own.

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