I went back and forth between this album and Gold and Green for over an hour before saying, “Fuck it” and flipping a goddamn coin. Anybody pissed off that they’re in the reality where the coin chose Taiga? No? Great!
This band started off as a fake band. It’s true. It began with Yoshimi P-We. For those more pop-minded motherfuckers out there, you know the Flaming Lips album called Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots? This is that Yoshimi. She’s a famed drummer and one of the longest featured players for the quintessential atypical Japanese rock band The Boredoms. She’s truly fucking badass. (A few words on The Boredoms before moving on: Holy. Shit.) Sometime during the mid-’90s, Yoshimi was asked to do a photo shoot for a magazine. She invited her friends to come along because why the fuck not? Instead of saying, “I brought my friends. Is that okay?” she said something like, “They’re allowed to be here because … this is my new band. You want our name? Um, can you give me a sec? Ooooo. Ya, OOIOO” (pronounced oh-oh-eye-oh-oh). And that’s the fucking story. After this, they decided to make their joke band real and ka-fucking-boom! They opened for Sonic Youth in ’97. If you think this recognition changed their sound then you really don’t know OOIOO. This band has zero fucks to give. Open all the fuck drawers in their house and you’ll see nothing inside; not one single fuck. Lucky for the world, Yoshimi’s friends were, and are, as talented as they were unrestricted.
The drums on this shit blast out like African animals protesting against their continent and demanding their own union. Yoshimi P-We is in top form, as usual. It’s huge. It’s strange. It’s just bigger. In Japanese, Taiga means “big river”. This makes sense. The changes on this album happen so rapidly it finally becomes fun when you just let go. The album has static, electronics, guitars, horns, lasers, and one very loud and angry Japanese child (or I assume/hope it’s a child) screaming their fucking head off. There are vocal lines done up in perfect harmony next to screaming so hoarse it sounds inhuman. At first you believe the album to be nothing but ragging chaos. As it continues, you realize that this motherfucker’s a cohesive whole. There are strong and concrete ideas on it. What seemed like a messy garble of gook, screaming, and insanity is actually unbelievably sophisticated and mature. Like a roaring goddamn river. This album crossbreeds punk, jazz, and rock into a happy monster in a pink tutu that enjoys loud cartoons, giggles at compliments, and starts forest fires when not given enough candy. The sound choices on any OOIOO album are as outrageous as they are entertaining. You won’t hear this anywhere else. Released back in ’06 to a gauntlet of bad reviews, I continually go back to this album because of how dense, complex, and goddamn fun it is. It always has more to offer. It’s like a tidal wave composed of sugar cubes, maple syrup, and pixie sticks: you may not like what it’s made of at first, but it’s impossible not to admire its very existence and its incredible unrelenting fucking force.