Ooioo Gamel Thrill Jockey Records
Traditional meets avant-garde in this ultra-cool culture clash.
The vowel-tasticly monikered Ooioo is a conglomeration of Japanese musicians practicing the traditional Gamelan music style of Java and Bali, or at least an updated version of the same and led by the enigmatic presence of Yoshimio from noise pioneers Boredoms. Now if you're like me, you wouldn’t have assumed the decidedly avant-garde Boredoms wouldn’t be a good fit with anything remotely traditional, but on examining the resulting record these preconceptions can be put to one side. Don’t be pegging me as no Gamelan expert, but it seems to me that a style based primarily on percussion and vocalizations (as it is) would seem to actually have a lot of crossover with the music for which Yoshimio is more notorious and so it proves. Extended passages of percussion lull the listener into a near hypnotic state and build to crescendos, with the addition of repetitive vocalizations and wisps of instrumentation. Mariah Carey, this ain’t. The other immediate impression is how absolutely beautiful it all sounds; even the most seemingly-insignificant sound has been captured brilliantly. The interwoven textures almost shimmer, sounding full and lustrous and incredibly well-realised; almost as if it were part of a live performance rather than a recording. My notes fail to mention the production credit, sadly, but whoever it was is an artist of very rare and precious ability. Musically, this works on a much more subtle level than pop music; by seeping unexpectedly into your subconscious and infecting your psyche almost before you realise there is any music on at all. Whether you are a Boredom's fanatic, or interested specifically in Gamelan for its own sake, or even seeking this out after hearing a clip on Radio 3 or from some music geek friend (assuming such people have friends) it is far more enjoyable and accessible, and ultimately satisfying than you might otherwise imagine. 8/10 Written by Keith Thomas