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Friday, May 8, 2009

LISTENING POST

CD REVIEW

mi-gu "pulling from above"


While the sentence "I'm a fan of the solo albums by the drummer from left-field Japanese electronica artist Cornelius' live backing band" might come across as almost artfully pretentious, mi-gu's third album of unconventional studio-play is actually her most accessible to date.

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Recording with a stellar lo-fi cast of musicians (Keigo "Cornelius" Oyamada and other members of his backing band, plus Minutemen/Stooges bassist Mike Watt and Beastie Boys cohort Money Mark, among others), mi-gu — known to her mother as Yuko Araki — focuses mainly on percussion and vocals. As you might expect from a solo album by a drummer, the beats are bold and brassy and the rhythms occasionally challenging, though never to the point of distraction. Thematically, the album is upbeat, with mi-gu speaking lyrics (and in a rare twist, even singing them on a couple of songs) that carry optimistic messages about making the best of this "topsy-turvy world."

But, above all, it's a sonic feast, with the warm electronic bass throb and sharp lead synth of the kinetic title track nestling happily alongside the haunting guitar noodling and sparse percussion of "The Era of Aquarius" and the harsher tones of the Sonic Youth-esque drone-rocker "Choose the Light." Rich in detail, the studio-fashioned tracks throw in mesmerizing glockenspiel, chiming bells, erratic violin and dreamy guitar delay to create a fascinating record that deserves to be snuggled up close to.



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