Saturday, 30 June 2018


De-la-Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, Wed 27th June

This improvising trio got me trekking out to Bexhill through the legendary Yoshimi, here trading as YoshimiO, previously seen playing with Japanese noisenauts Boredoms and her own band OOIOO. I only found out on arriving that they also comprised Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, also known to answer to Lichens, who I’d previously seen playing with trance-out wizards Om. (The third player, Susie Ibarra, stems more from the jazz world and was previously unknown to me.)

Ironic then, that Om provided the closest match to them. Certainly they were neither as song-based as OOIOO nor as devilishly destructive as the Boredoms. Though that match worked more in terms of spirit than sound, the promoters explaining Lowe’s “practice is strongly rooted in exploration of moments and the hypnagogic state.”

Unlike so much impro music they weren’t ceaselessly frenetic but measured. And, perhaps not entirely by coincidence, each player took up their principal instrument and worked it. YoshimiO and Ibarra, facing one another, drummed together. Yet Lowe’s electronic contributions, more often than tones or squelches, produced more beats. The result was quite a rhythmic set for an impro outfit, even if those rhythms were quite unorthodox.

They sometimes sounded like a string quartet squashed flat by a steam roller, at others like the waddling of a bug. (Think of the Fall of ‘Bug’s Life’ or ‘Dr. Buck’s Letter’.) Instead of a ready-made contrast you therefore got a much more creative interplay.

And atop the rhythms both YoshimiO and Lichens sang. At times they genuinely sang, at others they seemed to have become mantra monks gone mad or taken up Dr. Doolittle’s talk-to-the-animals routine. Quite early on, I became convinced that YoshimiO had hit on a means of calling to an ancient aquatic race, and that they’d soon be stepping out the sea and heading for the venue.

Combinations of impro artists seem to come and go with bewildering speed, the speed daters of the music scene. While others like the Necks can last for decades. The plan seems to be to make Yunohana Variations into a going concern, and we can only hope that happens.

Same tour, different night...

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