Review: O Yama O – O Yama O (Mana, Oct 5)

I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting when I pressed play on O Yama O’s self titled album, but I am sure that I was not expecting what I heard. As you may know, Rie Nakajima is one of my favorite sound artists and creatives in general, but what I usually enjoy about her work is its formlessness and textural inclination, examining the sounds of objects and how they fit together without concerning itself with conventional structure. But on O Yama O, the debut studio release of her project with Cafe OTO co-founder Keiko Yamamoto that has been performing since 2014 (and has somehow remained completely under my radar until now), Nakajima’s object orchestras are molded into odd folk songs, providing whimsical bases and flirtations with Yamamoto’s impassioned vocalizing. “Oni” is an early example of the two artists’ unique and successful intermingling, blending rollicking clatters of small items and toy wind instruments with the joyful cries of the titular word, which means, if I am not mistaken, ‘demon.’ This persistent contrast of fun, happy stamping and the alien unknown plays out in various ways throughout the record, venturing farthest into mystery on tracks like “Iroha” that probe dark, uncomfortably intimate timbres.

Buy the physical LP here.