Sai Cobab - Sab Se Purani Bab album review

Japanese ragas shrieked toward the avant-garde

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When it comes to talking a good game, SAICOBAB – the latest project from ex-Boredoms/ OOIOO vocalist YoshimiO – can weave gold from straw faster than you can say Rumpelstiltskin. Sab Se Purani Bab, we’re told, reflects the deep connections between traditional Indian and Japanese music and spiritual practices. There’s a surfeit of chinstroking stuff on numerology, equations, silver ratios and mathematical concepts, a casual promise to masterfully blend classical ragas with animated vocal melodies, but in comparison to the highfalutin fine intentions of their complex manifesto, the reality of the situation fetches up short. Granted, Yoshida Daikiti is quite the sitar player, but in the context of this quartet (completed by Akita Goldman on double bass, Motoyuki Hamamoto on percussion and the clanging vocals of YoshimiO), recorded live and edited to in post-production, SAICOBAB sound stultified by their need to perpetually challenge. There’s none of the taut, hypnotic, crescendo-bound power so characteristic of classical Indian ragas, nor the mellifluous shared intuition of improvisational jazz, just nagging uneasy listening.