June 5, 2009

AOA – Emotion Vacation : Silent Summer Collection (2001, Comma)

I have been listening to Boredoms projects a lot lately, so I thought I would keep it going and dedicate all the reviews this week to some of my favorites. One aspect of Boredoms that I've never gotten to experience is their live performances, particularly at outdoor raves and psychedelic festivals in Japan. From footage I've seen, their live shows, at least in the earlier '00s, had a strong dance and even techno element, with pounding 4/4 beats and drum circle percussion jams. This sound is captured on CD by AOA, the freeform trance project of Boredoms drummers Hira and E-da, with a shifting line-up of special guest musicians. The style is similar to the extended tribal jams on "Vision Creation Newsun", but with a more electronic instrumentation and a rave aesthetic. The material is apparently produced spontaneously around a foundation of 4/4 drum machine programming, with constantly shifting textures, synthesizer arpeggio sequences, and live drumming. AOA is a futuristic blend of Japanese psychedelic production techniques applied to Goa trance dance beats. The group released three full-lengths and two EPs in a period of five years from '98 to '02, and seem to have taken a break since, although the band members are probably just performing with their many other projects now, including Boredoms themseles. "Emotion Vacation" is the only AOA album that is easy to acquire outside of Japan, as it was licensed to Australian label Psy-Harmonics, where it is still in-print and currently on sale for $14AUD, which is about $11.50USD and includes world-wide shipping! My other favorite of AOA's is '99's "Surfin' Alright", which may be an even stronger album but is out-of-print and impossible to find.