Elevate Difference

Arminico Hewa

When I was twenty, I flew off to Japan one spring with a stated mission “to be alone.” While this may sound more glamorous than it actually was, I did accomplish my goal. Unable to speak to anyone, wandering between cities and sights in dazed confusion, I was undeniably alone. It was either the best ten days of my life or the strangest—and really, it was probably both.

Japanese band OOIOO recreate the strangeness of that experience. Their all-female lineup, which has made space for the likes of Sean Lennon in the past, plays a mix of experimental and minimalist noise rock. Much like their counterpart band, The Boredoms, OOIOO vacillate between enjoyably listenable and disturbingly avant garde.

On Arminico Hewa, tracks range from under two minutes to over six. Songs like “Ironrun” and “Konjo” run together and sound like Japanese tribal chants—if such a thing exists outside of a Kabuki theater. “Polacca” could almost be mistaken for a rock song. For balance, tracks like “Ulda” bring to mind the shoegaze fuzz of My Bloody Valentine. MBV's Kevin Shields scored much of the music for Lost In Translation. It all comes together, no?

My partner’s brother—a twin in DNA only—recently returned from a conference in Osaka with pleasant things to say about his time abroad. While I’ve recently warmed to the idea of returning to the islands nation, I’d no doubt do better with some company this time. As demonstrated by the constantly shifting OOIOO lineup, comfort—or at least safety—comes in numbers.

Written by: Brittany Shoot, October 20th 2009