OOIOO - Gamel - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

OOIOO - Gamel

by Rob Taylor Rating:8 Release Date:2014-06-30

Over the last century, various attempts have been made to combine the traditional instruments of the East with the established ones of the West, from Puccini's blending of exotic Eastern percussion and European romanticism in the opera Turandot, through to the exploratory musics of John Cage, jazz and pop's leaning to Indian music - think John Coltrane and George Harrison - and the inspired shared experiences in the Malian Desert of musicians like Robert Plant. The more modern projects have brought global music to the mainstream listener via the collaborations from the likes of like Damon Albarn and Jah Wobble.

Some serious attempts at blending eastern and western music, particularly by the jazz avant-garde, have been dour affairs. Writing about these cultural appropriations has become a sadomasochistic exercise, best left to cardigan wearing anthropologists.

Fortunately, Yoshimi and OOIOO's Gamel falls towards the cooler and less academic end of the spectrum for weird musical cocktails. Having returned to earth after battling pink robots with Wayne Coyne, Yoshimi has been listening to the sounds of nature, and taken quite a shine to the traditional Indonesian music, Gamelan. To be honest with you, I wasn't holding out hopes for a sustainable listening experience.

Gamel is completely deranged. My notes from the album, in disassembled form read:

Acapella, chanting monks and xylophone, accelerated music in synchrony with chanting, flat drumming, introduction of chimes, electric guitar then voices repeating tweet tweet in ascending octaves with screeching tones sounding like detuned frequencies. More chimes and god-awful childish wailing. Rolling bass descending and ascending , shifts in tempo, more gamelan over high pitched and garbled vocalisations, and the occasional "whoop whoop" and mini screech. Echoey drips, Kate Bush style, Wuthering Heights re-imagined by crazed Japanese person. Funk inflections? Slowcore.

And that, I think, just about sums up Gamel. It's bloody brilliant. It is a blazing example of a intelligent pop/rock/avant-garde mind at work, and Yoshimi and OOIOO never take themselves too seriously.

Gamel could so easily been a disparate noise-fest, but the overall soundscape holds together as a kind of hypnotic musical communion, and is, occasionally, truly fucking inspiring. Gamel  is a very clever alternative pop album which never loses sight of the fact that it is there to challenge and entertain. 

Just make sure the eject drawer of your CD player is not within kicking range though, because you will experience moments of real violence.    

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