Review: O Yama O – Awadatete Yoku Arau (The Sonic Art Research Unit, Jul 16)

Truly disparate fusions of abstract music and pop/folk conventions that are actually successful are few and far between. Musique concrète masters Jérôme Noetinger and Lionel Marchetti lent their talents to experimental rock collective Soixante Étages, but their electronic contributions are still largely overshadowed by the standard lineup of guitars and drums; the sneeze awfull and IT IT crew frequently intertwine odd textures and diverse samples with their music; Áine O’Dwyer blends mundane environments with her own voice and organ dirges. However, none of these projects have the immediacy nor the intimacy of the music of O Yama O, the duo of Japanese-born, London-based sound artists Rie Nakajima and Keiko Yamamoto. Their recordings and performances pair Nakajima’s phantasmagoric toy improvisations and handmade machinery manipulation with Yamamoto’s haunting voice and more harmonic contributions such as flute and recorder. Both their 2018 self-titled debut and the newly released Awadatete Yoku Arau both feel impossibly fluid, as if the music is simply being sighed or exhaled into existence. Yamamoto’s words are not bolstered (in this case, I believe a better word might be limited) by any conventional rhythmic structure or repeating phrases; instead, they breeze forward with the same freedom and frangibility as the whining melodica or clunking objects. I think I like this new EP even more than the duo’s debut, because rather than feeling like sketches or excerpts these tracks are more fully fleshed-out and memorable.

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