Avant Garde Experimental field recordings improvisation modular synths piano review

YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO – To The Forest To Live A Truer Life Review

When you take a modular synth into a forest to scream for a while.

What does YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO sound like?

A modular synth smashing up a piano in a forest as an alien chants over the top.

The review of YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO – To The Forest To Live A Truer Life

In some of the most carefree, crazy and experimental corners of rock lives a Japanese band called OOIOO. I have long been a fan since stumbling across their unhinged, psychedelic chaos on YouTube and now YoshimiO, the band leader, has ventured into freeform electronic noise and piano.

photo of YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO
YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO – photo by TAKASHI HOMMA

Teaming up with IzumikiYoshi, the idea behind this album is rooted in manipulating live sounds into a modular synth. Once then refracted through a modular synth, these sounds are then made playable again in a live setting. It’s almost like playing music that’s been bent through the light of water because you can hear notes and tones being played but they are all askew and freeform. Indeed, the album is formed from spontaneous bursts of emotion. Piano, synth, noise recordings and voice are all at play here to create an alien world. It is not an easy listen – nothing from the OOIOO camp ever is. This is as close to soothing as the troupe has ever got though.

When I say soothing, I mean the muted piano echoes that wash and bleed across the speakers in ‘yO Me’. That is before improv call and response bass and piano synths explode into a blaze of noise like a space church organ. Elsewhere the chaotic 200+ bpm sounding piano and computer bleeps of ‘YoY 7’ sounds like Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith on speed. Celestial and manic in equal measure, I was fiercely pumped up and oddly focused by the end. Then we have the almost straight piano opening of ‘OmimiO’ that then warps into twisted synths and horror vocals being thrown through a slinky. How a piano piece can transform into such a bouncy stab of ghostly space echoes I’ve no idea but here, anything is possible.

YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO revels in the idea of making the organic unhinged and distorted. In ‘YosunnyO’ we have a piano riff that gets ripped out of its own fabric into a bendy space harp and electric vocals. ‘Sun19’ is almost like a song with proper lyrics and vocals over a distant old piano, that leaves an organ trail behind each note. The vocals are cat-like without the usual filters on them and feel wild to the ear. ‘mini yO’ is three minutes of improvisational vocal pitch bending. Piano follows the vocals around but you aren’t sure what leads the other. It’s so full of abandonment, I can’t help but smile even if it is pushing up to some of my avant-garde limits at times. There’s a childlike innocence and freedom I can’t help but enjoy.

The modular synth does some wonders across the album. I really enjoyed the rhythmic reverb on ‘niminya’ which makes every piano note ring like a bell. It also allows the vocals that mimic bird calls to echo around your ears like a forest is alive too. This builds to the musical crescendo of ‘mull’. It’s a six-minute visceral dirge of a piano being distorted like an electric guitar. The track is powerful, aggressive and emboldened. I felt like I was standing on a cliff edge, surveying your land. After the vocal snippets of ‘1.yoO’, the album closes out with the ethereally beautiful ’33yOng’. This track pulls in all the various noises you’ve heard across the album but chops them into split-second snapshots of ideas. To me, it feels like an ambient equivalent of a 24-hour time-lapse of YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO’s work – smashed into three and a half minutes.

This album is so left-field and wild, its audience is going to be small and niche. Yet the unbound joy and freedom from these tracks are unmistakable. Do they conform to the usual melodic tropes of a song? Absolutely not. YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO, just like OOIOO, has an uncanny way of conveying emotional states of mind. ‘To The Forest To Live a Truer Life’ was recorded in the forest of Maho-roba and that primal experience shines through unfiltered. Barmy, unhinged and uniquely full of clarity in the face of chaos. This is a trip for the bravest of hearts.

Recommended track: 33y0ng

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YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO - To The Forest To Live A Truer Life



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