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Friday, Jan. 20, 2006

LISTENING POST: CD REVIEWS

Don Matsuo "O-re-ha-si-na-i-yo?"


Over a trippy, electronic beat on the title song, Don Matsuo sings "nobody knows my mind inside." The line speaks volumes about a musician who's spent the last decade, both in the Zoobombs and now as a solo artist, continually revamping his acclaimed music and songwriting process.

Anyone familiar with the Zoobombs genre-jumping career should be prepared for the range of wonderful, eclectic sounds Matsuo explores on his solo debut. Vintage rock 'n' roll cries of "yeah!" and "baby" accompany the driving guitars that usher in the explosive "Man's Life" for the disc-opener. From there Matsuo and his backing band, including members of Limited Express (has gone?), Ni-hao! and Moools blaze through 11 fantastic cuts of rock, funk, blues, dub, psychedelic pop and electronica.

Intentionally raw, "O-re-ha-si-na-i-yo" has a very loose feel to it. The songs are wide open, and come across as if they were recorded jam sessions. Matsuo and crew venture in several sonic directions that are all highly danceable and, more importantly, loads of fun. Switching between his native Japanese to English, Matsuo's trademark vocal stylings are the only constant on the album. After frantically unleashing lyrics one moment, he'll switch to a laid-back drawl before letting loose an awesome Mick Jagger-inspired howl, upping the intensity and coolness factor in the process.

This album is a great addition to Matsuo's catalog of infectious music, and further confirms him as a driving force in the Japanese underground.



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