“Supergroups” or even any true collaboration can be hazardous propositions, but fortunately they often enough bear fruit. NoinoNoinoNoino’s 8 cassette for Caoutchou Records documents one exemplary success. The collaboration brings together Kiki Hitomi’s freaky avant J-pop, Dead Fader’s sinister bass music, DJ Die Soon’s skittering experiments, and DJ Hotel’s dark electro hip hop. It sounds like a lot of sonic space to cram into a coherent musical message, but the results are remarkably consistent, offering a fresh take on psychedelic, dub, shoegaze, and even witch house.
The record gels so well because no single artist’s sound is prioritized. Each mutates, thanks in part to the recording process here: one-take improvisations for three days, without food inside “a shaman’s den . . . only surviving on green holy aromas.” This sequestration produced 44 tracks that were culled down to the album’s 13 tracks. A limited edition cassette release, 8 captures Hitomi’s disembodied auto-tuned shamanic chant adorning many of the tracks, though her voice becomes just another indiscernible instrument among these wispy relics. Wispy tracks like relics from a bygone tribe that has somehow reverse engineered recording technology. The recording almost seems incidental, as if a stray child snuck into the rehearsal space with a dictaphone to capture the session..
Fans of Prince Rama’s heavily psychedelic earlier work and the crackling obscurities of Paavoharju — or hell, even the more mainstream experimentation of Oneohtrix Point Never and Burial — will find solace here. The freedom here is indebted to Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, where instruments seem to wander of their own accord, and yet follow an internal logic to which the listener is unaware.
Heavy doses of reverb and thundering bass blasts thread through the rough production. Crisp electronics provide contrast by peeking through the ether, as on “Doitsumo,” whereas the witch house drone of “Wash Me Away” pulses with a dark menace only found in the dimmest caves. Tracks like “Maboroshi Chain” take an abrupt turn halfway through. New musical ideas are introduced as suddenly as a film’s scene change, while others persist when the musicians are digging into a groove, as heard on eight-minute “Tonight Part2,” which breaks away from its main idea after the first minute and again abandons itself near the second. Its next five minutes chase a washed-out vocal groove set against roaring synth blasts and percolating percussion.
The band seems to be aiming for music to accompany a shamanistic experience. Though 8 (the symbolic number of infinity) could at times facilitate an ayahuasca ceremony, there are times the record would be downright terrifying. Still, the album’s singular direction won’t create any abrupt shift changes, and once you sink into the overall vibe, just let it take you on the ride.