From the melting pot of New York's East Village come two ultrahip and very tasty expatriate Japanese music-makers, Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda, calling themselves Cibo Matto. That the name (pronounced "cheebo motto") means "food madness" in Italian is appropriate: the female duo sings about things to eat (apples, beef jerky, artichokes, birthday cakes) on all 10 tracks of their debut album, Viva! La Woman. And even if the record's lyrics are generally nonsensical, food makes for a great text: ripe with metaphors, it's sensual, colorful, irresistible, and quite universal. But as in another East Asian export--the 1994 Taiwanese film Eat Drink Man Woman--food is the canvas on which the artists paint their story, and not the story itself. Cibo Matto could just as easily stand for "sample madness." Sound, not taste, satisfies their appetite, and the disparate ingredients they pop in the blender--ambient bursts, random noises, hip-hop breakbeats, trip-hop swirls and churns, Afro-Cuban percussion, muted cool jazz trumpets, funky bass and keys--produce a sonic collage of rhythms and melodies that makes for some of the most successful sampler-based songwriting to date. Like Soul Coughing --a similar-minded downtown New York outfit--Cibo Matto don't replace real playing with sampler loops, they just bring the sampler into the mix as a limitless source for all the crazy sounds their conventional instruments can't get to. And like the Beastie Boys, Cibo Matto compose music the way kids play with toys--so naturally and so ecstatically it makes us all want to come out and join in their irrepressible fun. --Roni Sarig
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Addictive, but not for everyone...
Timothy Dodds | Sydney, NSW Australia | 02/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Cibo Matto's first release, Viva! La Woman (1996) is a strange concoction - a unique mix of Hip Hop, alternative, electronic, dance, jazz and popular music influences that deosn't sound quite like anything you (or at least I) have heard before. Before I launch into my opinion on this astonishingly addictive and catchy album, I will make it very clear that I absolutely love it. I own a lot of CDs; some I have grown out of entirely, some I bought for only a couple of songs (or even one), some that were ultimately forgettable. Viva! La Woman, however, has remained one of my very favourite CDs - a kind of talisman to which I continually return for relaxation, escape, or inspiration for my own pursuits in music.
It also has to be said that it is not a CD for everyone. People with conservative tastes in music will see the ostensibly nonsensical lyrics to be nothing more than, well, nonsense. Others may listen to a track like 'Apple' and discard it as dissonance. I suppose you have to approach a pairing (Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda) like Cibo Matto with an open mind. We're not talking John Cage or Kraftwerk here, but it has to be said that Viva! La Woman is radically different to the music that you will hear in the charts. The Australian charts, anyway...
I first came across Cibo Matto in an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and again in Michel Gondry's fantastic music video for 'Sugar Water', and the love affair grew from there. It is hard to describe exactly what I find so addictive about Viva! La Woman. From the perspective of an audio production student, the album is an excellently-produced blend of the aforementioned musical genres, where sampled accoustics meet electronics to create some ridiculously catchy tracks that will stay in you head for... Well, its three years and counting for me, so far.
Then there's Miho Hatori and Yuka Honda's incredible vocals. The lyrics will at first seem whimsical, even childish. The more I've listened, however, the more the lyrics have combined with the music to articulate such feelings as love, sadness and jubilation better than any other album I own. Perhaps it's just me, but Viva! La Woman takes me on an emotional ride, stimulating my imagination all the while.
There's something more though. Like the cult TV show on which I discovered Cibo Matto, Viva! La Woman is just effortlessly cool. There's no better way of putting it. It's anything but ordinary, maddeningly catchy and really, really addictive. Highly recommended, and a worthy purchase for anyone who likes electronic and alternative music.
For the record, the 1999 follow up, Stero Type A, is brilliant as well."