Yuka Honda

Memories Are My Only Witness

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At long last the songwriting and sound sculpting force behind Japan's wonder trio Cibo Matto steps out from behind the curtain. Yuka Honda, the sampler queen and drum machine goddess, has issued a solo album rife with delightfully offbeat instrumentals and humorous musical asides that are assembled in stained-glass window fashion for maximum dazzle and minimal distress. Honda is joined by members of the Cibo Matto family here in Timo Ellis and Duma Love adding percussion, basses, and guitars, as well as by Bill Ware, Rick Lee, and Dougie Browne. Honda's pieces range from the pure musical interludes of "Small Circular Motion" to the fragmentary soundscape-streaked "Driving Down by the Hudson River, We Saw the Blood Red Burning Sky" to the deeply fractured groove-laden as in "You Think You Are So Generous but I Think It's the Most Conditional Thing I Ever Heard-Jumping the Gap Between Me & Myself." Here, canned percussion meets organic in the establishment of the deep pocket upon which funky synths and razored guitars open it up from the inside. Also notable is the three-part suite, "Why Do We Distrust the Machines We made?," and the jazzy, atmospheric "Night Driving," with its modal piano chords striated across an echoed horn-like backdrop and hung there on an airy, somehow eerie frame to soothe and weird out listeners. The humor is always intentional and delightful here. No matter how many times this one is spun it won't wear out; something new pops out of the canny mix and intricately structured soundscapes constantly.

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