O Yama O

Formed of musician and artist Rie Nakajima, Cafe OTO co-founder Keiko Yamamoto, percussionist and photographer Marie Roux and violin player Billy Steiger, O Yama O explores a certain domestic and democratic quality of everyday life, born through associations to folk music of Japan and a folding of myth, tradition, and routine; the non-spectacular and the sublime. They move between pop and the philosophical, defined by the overall space afforded to texture and movement. In small, delicate sound an intimate musical climate is established that reflects on life, telling stories of improvised clockwork, whispered dreams, small movements of the hand and the rhythm to be found in the shuffle of a deck of cards.

The group have performed since 2014 at venues and festivals such as noshowspace, Ikon Gallery, Wysing Arts Centre, Supernormal, Borealis Festival, Mayhem, and allEars Festival.

Featured releases

Rie Nakajima and Keiko Yamamoto are joined by violinist Billy Steiger and percussionist Marie Roux in a dozen deconstructions of Japanese folk music, for this pacy, engaging debut album. Rie’s baby orchestra of rice bowls, toys, clock workings, balloons and motors is by turns haunted, teased, adorned and laid waste by Keiko’s chanting, rumbling, whispering and stamping on the floor. The production by David ‘Flying Lizards’ Cunningham deepens and spooks the mix, which brims over with energy and wit, intimacy and presence, grace and mystery. "Suddenly we are closer to music being made than we have been for many years or longer even, so alarmingly close as to feel warmth and discomfort, as if studying the sole of a foot from a few centimetres away or holding a private whisper within an enclosed hand and feeling its trembling desire to be free; but also so far away distant as to feel each vibrant, pungent ingredient within its box or jar or bowl or packet or bottle or air-tight translucent container or brown paper bag painstakingly stirred, shaken, scattered, poured into the heated cauldron of what we call recording, its imaginary rooms and its production, though my better self prefers not to speak about or analyse the notion of ‘the studio’, this being a working up of spaces that are social, a vision of something beyond us but not quite beyond us because its existence as a listening object is real enough to make us pause and question how it was lost or never found." - David Toop --- Keiko Yamamoto / voice, melodica, flute, recorder, floor percussion, toy dog (1-7, 9-12) Rie Nakajima / objects, whistles, flute, cards, taisho koto, xylophone, piano, abacus, drain horn (1-12) Billy Steiger / violin (2,4,7-9,11,12) Marie Roux / percussion, thumb piano (2,4,7,9,11,12) --- All composition by Nakajima/Roux/Steiger/Yamamoto apart from Yobu, Hebi, Iroha, Kitsune and Are Kore (Nakajima/Yamamoto) and Futari (Nakajima/Steiger). Words by Yamamoto except 5 and 11. Iroha is a Japanese classical alphabet. Sojarobai is a working song from Miyazaki, Japan. Produced by David Cunningham.  Cover image by Marie Roux. Sleeve design by Ayako Fukuuchi.

O Yama O

O Yama O return with their first full length LP since 2018’s self titled debut. Galo finds the duo of sculptor Rie Nakajima and vocalist Keiko Yamamoto firmly enmeshed alongside percussionist Marie Roux and violin player and visual artist Billy Steiger as a band, their project this time a proper four way entanglement - or five when you include the record’s powerhouse producer David Cunningham. Known perhaps already for their exploration of folkloric Japan and the ‘domestic and democratic quality of everyday life’, part of the magic of O Yama O comes from the conjuring of atmospheres from the smallest of elements. On Galo, Nakajima’s object orchestra is accompanied by bird callers, kalimbas, the koto, a Pierre Berthet ‘sounding hat’, and one of those plastic whirly tubes which produce a surprisingly agreeable warbling, especially in the hands of Roux. Together their sound recalls the far out sonorities of Anton Bruhin’s Vom Goldabfischer, (also a fan of a PVC tube, which he fixed with a reed and called a ch-pon), and maps out a hopeful landscape for genuinely experimental folk music; a slippery exploration of customs, routines, storytelling and disparate influences. The sketches of O Yama O’s earlier work arrive on Galo as tunes rich with melody, alongside the occasional song - fleshed out, but totally surreal - forming as naturally as a cloud and dispersing fresh clarity next morning. Though miraculously recorded in multiple parts and online between London, Devon, Luzern and Fukouka, Galo has a fair view of Albion at its window. The recorder and violin led ‘Harvest Dance’ draws from Weird Walk material, though Steiger’s folk melody and Cunningham’s production are anything but purely bucolic. Perhaps it’s this that makes us think of folk music. Or maybe it’s the group's particular language, which seems at once familiar and yet also totally alien. Yamamoto says of the group’s practice that “listening becomes talking, talking becomes hearing, hearing becomes singing, singing becomes silence and silence becomes sculpture." It’s a simple process, yet rich with reward - a searching kind of structure which finds room for each listener.  KEIKO YAMAMOTO - voice, percussion, recorder, bird callers, clay bird whistle, kalimba, lyre RIE NAKAJIMA - objects, sculpture, piano, harmonica, koto, whistle, percussion, water MARIE ROUX - drums, percussion, guitar, wind tube, whistle, Berthet sounding hat, thumb piano BILLY STEIGER - violin, piano

Galo – O Yama O

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