Opening with one minute of cathartic hardcore and ending with seven minutes of Beatlesque art rock, YoshimiO’s experimental outfit OOIOO finds an organically unique stride on nijimusi. The Boredoms’ drummer has spent decades carving out a specific psychedelic sound forged in acts of spontaneity and aggressive playfulness, both of which reach their apex in surprising corners of the hourlong runtime. Polyrhythmic drumming centers the alarmingly chaotic combination of guitar, bass, and vocals, all of which coalesce into a dizzying, satisfying spell.
Any initial impenetrability to OOIOO likely stems from their lack of contemporaries— at least in the Western canon of art rock. nijimusi occasionally sounds like a fortified jam session deep in its 6th hour: musicians spiritually locked in to the point where there’s little room for outsider access. This communal, procedural act strengthens the sonic acrobatics of tracks like “bulun,” which cycles through cryptic chants and hard jazz meltdowns. The rationality behind any arrangement stems from deep-seated imagination and individual expression through rules that to which only the band seems privy. The curtain only rises on closing track “kawasemi ah,” which cheekily inverts the singalong into an exercise of breaking established molds. Even with clear listening instructions, OOIOO create an unexpected, rainbow-dyed explosion through scorching feedback and snare rolls.
The relentless intensity of ⅞ grooves mixed with high frequency atonality and dueling guitars can occasionally grow hard to stomach, as on the “greatest hits” mashup “walk for ‘345’ minutes, while saying ‘Ah Yeah!’ with a ‘Mountain Book’ in one hand, until a shower of light pours down,” which pays homage to previous songs in the group’s discography. But OOIOO converts harshness into transcendence, and once one surrenders to its postulates, the track eventually earns its 11-minute runtime. “Otherworldly” can seem like a banal descriptor, but the pure absurdism (just look at the previously mentioned title) of such open-ended, fiercely curated compositions necessitates taking a step back and appreciating the genuine originality of nijimusi. It’s rare to get a glimpse of such serious musicians breaking free within the confines they’ve set for themselves. (Josh Hughes)