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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Go to the O.N.O website  O.N.O - Six month at outside stairs [Tha Blue Herb Records - 2003]

What happens when the DJ of the best Japanese hiphop band releases a solo CD ? You expect an instrumental hiphop album that will be compared to DJ Krush. O.N.O is happy to wrongfoot these preconceived notions...

Krush is the king of instrumental hiphop in Nippon, Nobukazu Takemura is a giant in the electronic scene. They’d better watch out since O.N.O is quickly affirming himself as a prime purveyor of a music that happily crosses the borders of hiphop to invade electronica and vice-versa.

From the straightforward hiphop O.N.O was making in 1997 on Shock shine no ran to Six month at outside stairs, his music’s evolution can only be deemed impressive. The extremely powerful bomb that is his main unit Tha Blue Herb may not have been dropped on the whole world yet, but if there is any justice, it can only be a matter of time.  The same applies to his other project, Shigam...

After the release of three 12” in a few months, here comes the long awaited full-length in the guise of Six month at outside stairs. Great cover art, but more importantly great music. Spasomdic deserves its title since it features the off-kilter beats that are now O.N.O’s trademark. Beyond that apparent chaos, there is some order. This order owes a lot to all the sounds in the background, the light drones, the keyboards, the soft feedback. There is a feeling of spacecraft encountering meteorites... There was something jazz about Shigam and this side of O.N.O’s work shines through Nanostorm. I’m not talking about a jazzy feeling provided by double bass, fender rhodes or sax sounds. I’m talking about actual jazz, its drum patterns and its most subtle sides. This track sounds like a jazz tune that would have been submitted to cut-ups and enhanced with various little sounds. Very, very exciting... Narrowboat is less hectic, more relaxed. Children playing in the woods or spending their summer trying to be the Asian Huckleberry Finn’s. Although each tracks are spiced up with traditional instruments (or at least sounding that way), it becomes more obvious on Sigh. A lot of Japanese artists are using such sounds. I guess it just seems natural to them. What is obvious is that it has nothing “exotic” or “manufactured”. They are used if they are what is needed to get the desired result. The combination on this one track of these instruments with more or less hiphop beats and techno keyboard sounds certainly is refreshing. Demand makes me think of a more beat oriented Aoki Takamasa (review here) with its processed sounds. The icing on the cake is the very nice vocal sample. Drumsutra is another great track with slightly treated snare and cymbal sounds, deep bass and what sounds like a string instrument, a strange violin plus of course all the elements in the background giving more depth to the song. Ereticent closes Six month at outside stairs in style. The beat pattern is more straightforward than on any other track and O.N.O’s layers and layers and layers of processed sounds form a fascination-inducing melody. On this track, the Sapporo based producer’s talent for melodies is at one of its highest level ever.

Somewhere between turntabilism and laptop music, O.N.O’s album should be checked by anyone into anything between Krush, Pole, Coltrane and Aoki Takamasa. One of the top albums of 2003’s first six months...

Browse our archive for Shigam and Tha Blue Herb’s reviews.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

François Monti
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