Shoko Yoshida`s debut E.P., Up And Down, on Hot Buttered Records focuses on the voice as its primary instrument. Musical backing across the 4 tracks being minimal – chimes, sparse percussion, harmonium drone and distant half-speed drums (a la American Spring`s Sweet Mountain). Seed, care of Ryo Kurosawa, features some additional echoed acoustic strum and space-rock psyche shredding. All the while Shoko`s vocals are multi-tracked and overdubbed – providing digitalized do-wop harmonies. Swooping and swooning to the fore. These might be modern songs but they are well aware of tradition. The results a bit like Dip In The Pool, if fronted by Umeko Ando or Ikue Asazaki.
Described as “acid folk” I can assure you that Shoko`s sonic scope goes a whole lot further – and heavier – than that implies. Lucky enough to catch a small, select, show right at the start of this year, I witnessed Shoko perform one 15-20 minute long freakout. Generated from improvised loops, once the drum and smoke machines got going it was full-on shamanic Magick. A dark dream pop that referenced Spiritualized / Spacemen 3, Ash Ra Tempel, and AR Kane. Fellow countrymen Ghost`s classic Temple Stone. Even Finis Africae at their most far flung. A sound that`s touched on here by the title track. Where Mark McGuire-esque guitar accompanies Shoko`s cries, yelps, and shouts. Sorta animal in an untamed, untamable, Ari Up, Slits, kind of way.