Yoshimi P-We has been a busy girl lately. Besides lending her name and unique vocals to the Flaming Lips' most recent, very celebrated CD, she is still an active member in the Boredoms, (or, as they are now called in their latest incarnation, the Voordoms,) her own all girl outfit, OOIOO, and various other side projects and guest appearances.
Considering her roots in the early, chaotic Boredoms and UFO or Die and the newer trip-digital/jungle beats and electronic driven recordings, the idea of her working with Yuka Honda seemed an interesting and sensible pairing. Yuka was, of course, the musical half of the now defunct and incredibly fun Cibo Matto, and last year's Memories are My Only Witness established her as a talented and engaging solo artist.
So when I heard that the two were teaming up to release a record on Ipecac Records, I had a certain expectation. I assumed there would be beats and samples, strange vocals that shifted between chants and screams, a little bit of guitar for flavor, maybe some of Yoshimi's trumpet and a couple of dancy songs along with the usual challenging oddities. To my genuine surprise, I was wrong.
Flower With No Color is the most relaxed and interesting CD I have heard in quite some time. It is nothing like what these girls have done before, meaning it is not overt but extremely subtle. Or maybe it is like what they have done before? Maybe behind all the screams and beats was a drifting sense of melody and peace? Maybe? Definitely. Just thinking back to Boredoms' Super Roots 6 and the subtler moments of Memories are My Only Witness is enough to realize the many levels of musical experimentation of which these two are capable. In a way, it is the most challenging recording of their respective careers. Cibo Matto fans will bemoan the missing dance beats and Boredoms fans might not care for the quiet sounds of the mountain side where they recorded the disc, but once they put away their avant rock pre-conceptions they might discover the true beauty within.
Along with being a flowing, spiritual recording, Flower With No Color is very Asian. Often during the course of the record the element of Japanese music bubbles up making an unusual and provocative soundscape. For a record label most known for Fantomas, Tomahawk and the Melvins, this CD might seem out of place. Think of this as Ipecac's first foray into "world music," if you must, but remember that it takes more than feedback and screaming to be part of the underground. Sometimes it takes calm and ambient instrumentations. Flower With No Color is that and so much more. Too textural to be dismissed after just one listen, Yoshimi and Yuka- like the goddesses that they are- have given us something for the ages.