OOIOO, "kawasemi Ah" (Thrill Jockey)
With the groups Boredoms and Free Kitten, Japanese percussionist/vocalist YoshimiO (formerly Yoshimi P-We, erstwhile muse for the Flaming Lips) has been an unswerving agent for sonic chaos and transcendence. Along with Boredoms' Eye Yamantaka, Yoshimi helped to create some of the most adventurous and monomaniacal noise, prog, and space rock of the '90s and '00s. As leader of OOIOO, she's continued to extrapolate the extraordinary pneumatic tendencies of that band, plowing a percussion-heavy path to satori.
OOIOO's eighth studio album Nijimusi is as vibrant as any they've done. Most bands show signs of decline by this point in their career, but OOIOO are still soaring and burning at optimal levels. The quartet use conventional rock instrumentation here to twist the genre into action paintings of manic beats, loopy chants, guitar squalls, and torqued bass churns. (Between OOIOO and Otoboke Beaver, Japanese women are doing much of the heavy lifting to keep rock vital in the 21st century.)
The album's first single, "kawasemi Ah," happens to be my fave cut on Nijimusi. After a fake-out start that echoes Talking Heads' "I Zimbra," the track marches forth to a wonkily martial rhythm (bolstered by drummer MISHINA's tight Jaki Liebezeit-like syncopation), punctuated by fuzzed-out guitar snarls that remind me of those on Grace Jones's cover of "Warm Leatherette." Triumphant horns barge in unexpectedly halfway through, mimicking YoshimiO's possessed vocals. You can dance to this weird trance-dance joint, but don't be surprised if you dislocate your hip.