Jez riley French reviewsSong of the tasteby OLAibi, released under Takuroku — Cafe Oto’s digital label supporting artists in lockdown.

scattering {action}

Whilst there’s no shortage of current music claiming a connection with the direct environment of its creation or inspiration, having shifted from Tokyo to a remote forest in Totorri prefecture OLAibi (ex-OOIOO) manipulates the idea of place and what it means to belong somewhere, whether that be geographically, linguistically or musically.

「roots grown swoll」(extract)

The “completely audible studio”  that surrounds HUT, the off-grid house OLAibi has been living and working at since 2013 isn’t included through conventional field recordings but instead via a sense music growing out of synthetic organisms, undergrowth and, it seems, some of the positive effects of her choice of where to find place for now.

「yellow seed」(extract)

scatter {sound}

Solo albums prior to her retreat to the forest, involving collaborations with ex bandmates Aya and Yoshimi (Boredoms) and the likes of Kahimi Karie, had acoustic percussion at their core so a lazy assumption would be that away from the metropolis and intense touring schedules her work would become even more independent of technology. On 2017’s Mimihawasu however the landscape was electronic, though with a sense of digging through the humus of circuits to find ground.

{hands dirty, hands dug in}

This latest release, now, amidst increasingly pressured and fractious non-mainstream music cultures, sits somewhere in between the sharp, the processed and the ease of someone fixated with the space between drum patterns. As a percussionist OLAibi has a long standing interest in West African drumming but this and other influences such as the traditional music of Okinawa and the energy of her use of conventional drum kits are scattered within the structures of each piece. I’m reminded here of how gamelan traditions were stretched and pulled at rather than merely pasted in to the process of OOIOO’s Gamel album. The sifting through of interests, germination.

「roots grow swoll」 (extract)

There are sections of abstracted rhythm here, but these crack open as OLAibi explores language through vocalisations that might contain narratives or might not. Here one can perhaps find a connection to a recent collaborative project, Lasermice Dyad Ensemble, where small robotic creatures interact with light and OLAibi’s electronics. Both projects appear to have an instinctive guard against complacent production. A churning of soil.

「germs of grasses」 (extract)

「Song of the taste」involves sinking into its ground. What’s the point in trying to find reference points to give clues? Allow the unexpected rather than things being always mapped out, marked. Forest floor not Metropolis. No street names, no sat nav. Electrically charged but un-regulated.

All tracks by OLAibi, artwork design by Oli Barrett.

You can buy the record here – 50% of profits support the artist and 50% support Cafe Oto.

Jez riley French is a father, a Yorkshire based artist, musician, composer and microphone builder. He also curates a number of projects including the pdf / audio arts zine verdure engraved, the label engraved glass and the blogs the leaf explorers (currently publishing pdf archives on artists across fields), treasure hiding  (which also issues regular mixes) and four questions, an interview series focused on artists working with located sound.