Photo: Thrill Jockey

YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO Apply Synthesized Alterations to Piano and Voice

As one-half of the experimental YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO, Yoshimi permits her music to seemingly pop up from under the ground like a rare and fragile fungus.

To the Forest to Live a Truer Life
Thrill Jockey
24 March 2023

In 2009, drummer, vocalist, guitarist, pianist, trumpet player, and sonic globe trotter Yoshimi (aka YoshimiO or Yoshimi P-We) released Bor Cozmik, a single, 40-minute track featuring altered field recordings of local and found sounds edited from a 2008 trip to Malaysia. Much of the album features the buzzing of insects recorded by her husband/artist Shoji Goto to which she added some percussion and equalization. Because Bor Cozmik includes her editing and subtle sonic additions, it takes on qualities that more academic fieldwork wouldn’t. Instead, the original aural artifacts were manipulated for results that sometimes sound akin to Boredoms later, drum-heavy ecstatic rituals and at other times like the meditative flow of To the Forest to Live a Truer Life, the first physical release with modular synth wizard Izumi Kiyoshi, with who she also released the digital-only 2021 album Live in Temple Inryo.

Yet, now it’s Yoshimi’s voice and piano acting as the raw ingredients for Kiyoshi’s manipulations in the duo of YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO. Her live improvisations are recorded, sent through the synthesizer for processing, and then sent back out to mix with whatever she plays next. The results are often echo-drenched, meditative, unsettling, and whimsical in equal measure. Lightning piano runs pop up alongside droning electronics and repeat themselves, becoming more treated and, therefore, less “acoustic” along the way. It’s as if Yoshimi’s piano is morphing into something more ethereal along the way.

“Sun19” starts calmly, the piano distant, searching, until a riff appears and repeats. As waves of electronics engulf it, Yoshimi sings what sounds like a centuries-old mantra created by a forest-dwelling tribe, her voice rising in pitch. It’s as if she’s conjuring an instant lullaby. “MiniyO” is more radically treated, her wandering voice and piano more disturbingly extra-terrestrial. “33yOng” consists of spastic flutters that slowly reveal themselves to be from a piano as they ping across the speakers, bouncing over and under themselves as if in an increasingly heated conversation.

Yoshimi has always arrived at her music, whether as the drummer with Boredoms, front-woman and guitarist with OOIOO, or her other projects, organically. Her time with these bands compelled her to learn her instruments instead of coming at the music as an already-seasoned player. Yet anyone who’s ever seen her behind the kit has witnessed a master. As one-half of YoshimiOizumikiYoshiduO, she permits her music to seemingly pop up from under the ground like a rare and fragile fungus. Her trust in where the elastic wanderings of her playing allow for an innocence that never disguises her talent. Kiyoshi’s role is to capture and harness it for her next flight.

RATING 7 / 10