Music Hall of Williamsburg


Cibo Matto, BEEP

Thu, December 4, 2014

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

Music Hall of Williamsburg

Brooklyn, NY


This event is 16 and over

Merrill Garbus has performed as tUnE-yArDs since 2009, and that band name has always been synonymous with forward movement—whether because of her explosive performance style or the always-surprising way in which her songs unfold. First gaining notice with the debut BiRd-BrAiNs, which The New York Times called “a confident do-it-yourselfer's opening salvo: a staticky, low-fi, abrasive attention-getter,” Garbus forged a reputation as a formidable live presence through relentless touring. In 2011, tUnE-yArDs released its second album, w h o k i l l, a startling and sonically adventurous statement that led to a whirlwind period where Garbus and bassist Nate Brenner accrued accolades from critics (including the #1 spot on the Village Voice's 2011 Pazz and Jop poll), performed in front of increasing numbers of rapturous crowds around the world, and collaborated with the likes of Yoko Ono and ?uestlove. It was a thrilling ride, but it was one that needed a little bit of recovery afterward.

"I took the Fall [of 2012] off and started taking both Haitian dance and drum lessons," says Garbus of the post-w h o k i l l period. "It was nice; I was trying to be healthy and have a good time. And then, in January [2013], I was like, 'I have nothing.' I've never had nothing before—I've always had some songs that I'm planning on recording; I've always been working live with the looping pedal and writing that way. And I thought, 'OK, if I'm going to grow as an artist, I need to do this differently.'

"So I went to my studio five days a week and told myself I would be doing two demos a day. I also had rules: 'This week I'm only going to write using drum machines'; 'This week I'm going to write using vocal melodies first, and build something around that.' At the end of that, I had about 30 demos."

Those demos would eventually gel into Nikki Nack, the stunning third album by the Oakland-based band. A complex, textured statement that opens with a clarion call to ‘Find A New Way’ and spends its 13 tracks getting there, it's a showcase of how Garbus's songwriting has blossomed, and a testament to how current technologies can combine with themes from the past—Saturday mornings spent watching Pee-Wee's Playhouse, puppet shows based on Jonathan Swift's A Modest Proposal, hard days made less so by the refuge provided by top-40 radio—to create something utterly original.

"It was weird what stuck," Garbus says of the writing process. "The first song that felt finished is not on the album, and I almost scrapped ‘Water Fountain.'" That pulsing track's post-apocalyptic vision is presented as a sing-along, a tale of streets where once-useful structures have been rendered into disintegrating husks with Brenner's bass playing providing an increasingly concerned counterpoint. "I almost threw it away," she recalls, "because it sounded like a kids' song. But I really liked the theme, which mirrored what I was seeing in Oakland—people don't want to pay taxes, but the taxes are paying for the water fountain, and for the trash to be picked up, all these bare essentials."

Having studied both Haitian dance and drumming during her downtime, Garbus also visited the island nation in the spring of 2013 (she penned a piece about her time there for the online magazine The Talkhouse). The trip informed the record both spiritually and practically, and led to Garbus adding another instrument into tUnE-yArDs' musical arsenal (which, as she documented online, includes items like a bag of rice and a stool this go-round). "There's this drum called the boula; it sets the tempo for all the other drums," she says. "It's the smallest drum, and it's played with two sticks, flat to the skin. That element of Haitian drumming acts as the hi-hat, or the metronome, for a lot of the songs on the album."

Callbacks to the past are all over Nikki Nack, as befitting its jump-rope-chant title. Garbus's vocal performance on ‘Wait For A Minute’ recalls Quiet Storm balladry, and the song also contains a direct callback to her own past: A wobbly keyboard line provided by a Casio she received as a gift when she was nine years old. ‘Left Behind’ is underscored by a jittery nostalgia, the playground chant from which the album's title is taken eventually giving way to a chorus where Garbus's voice is masked by glossy-yet tarnished production that brings to mind the radio reigns of Lisa Lisa and En Vogue. "On the chorus," she says, "I sang those three parts and we put the recording through some crazy tape to make it sound like it was old and warped and distorted." Instead of weighing the music down, though, the heaviness of the past defiantly animates the track, which culminates in a cacophonous "Holiday, holiday"/"Let's Go Crazy" call-and-response.

"That song may be the epicenter of the album for me," says Garbus. "There's a sense of people not being okay with change, and how uncomfortable change is. I have a great amount of nostalgia for times past, and I feel extremely uncomfortable with that because I think it's so misdirected and misguided to think that things were 'better back then.'"

Nikki Nack has uncertainty about both the past and the future, but that's in keeping with Garbus's overall aesthetic of constantly questioning and burrowing for a "new way," tempered by the joy that goes hand in hand with new discoveries. “We worked with other producers for the first time this time around, which required that I humble myself quite a bit. We've worked with other collaborators, of course, like Eli Crews as a recording and mixing engineer again, but to ask Malay (Alicia Keys, Frank Ocean, Big Boi) and John Hill (Rihanna, Shakira, M.I.A.) for input on the tracks I had to let go of tUnE-yArDs being rigidly my production. I have a very specific vision for the sound of the band and I don't think women producers get enough credit for doing their own stuff, so I was resistant – but we grew, Nate and I both, and the songs grew. And it turns out that's what's most important: the songs, not my ego.”

"Every single composer, artist, writer—anyone that I respect, there is crazy shit that's happened in all these art forms," she says. "When the shit started changing, people were like, 'Ugh, I don't want that, what is that?' And it's kind of painful sometimes being on the front line of whatever I'm doing—I'm pushing myself, so I am going to rub up against my audience's expectations, and there is going to be some friction and tension there. My job is to get comfortable with that and accept it rather than kowtow to it."
Cibo Matto
Cibo Matto
Cibo Matto (meaning crazy food in Italian) is a New York City-based band formed by two Japanese women, Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori.

After working together in the noise rock band Leitoh Lychee, they formed Cibo Matto in 1994. The band name is an Italian phrase that roughly translates to “Crazy Food”, a twist of the name of an Italian movie from the 70’s called “Sesso Matto”. In 1995, Cibo Matto released a self-titled EP on El Diablo Records. The EP caught the attention of Warner Bros. Records, who signed Cibo Matto later in the year. Under Warner Bros., the duo released their first major album, “Viva! La Woman”, produced by Mitchell Froom, which stayed at #1 on CMJ college chart for six weeks. Their songs featured lyrics that played with food-related ideas, including “Know Your Chicken”, “Apple”, and “Birthday Cake”. Their single “Sugar Water” was a modest college radio and dance hit. The song was accompanied by an innovative split screen music video directed by Michel Gondry, wherein each side showed the same footage – one side going forward, and one backwards, meeting mid-song in a sort of visual/narrative palindrome. Cibo Matto made appearances on various television shows such as Oddville, Viva Variety, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “Birthday Cake” was heavily featured in the videogame Jet Set Radio Future. In 1996, Cibo Matto contributed their version of the Jobim classic “Águas De Março (Waters of March)” to the AIDS benefit album “Silencio=Muerte: Red Hot + Latin”, produced by the Red Hot Organization.

In 1997 Cibo Matto released an EP entitled “Super Relax” which included remixes of the song “Sugar Water” (including versions by Mike D of Beastie Boys and by Cold Cut of Ninja Tune) alongside rarities and oddities such as their version of “Águas De Março” and The Rolling Stones’ “Sing This All Together”.

Cibo Matto went on to release their second (and final) album “Stereo ? Type A” in 1999. Although it was a departure from the much-loved sound of “Viva! La Woman”, “Stereo ? Type A” was well-received by fans and the music critics alike.

The group continued to tour until disbanding in 2001.

All of the members of Cibo Matto have gone on to release solo material and continued to collaborate with each other.

Miho & Yuka announced their reunion on March 18th, 2011 when they performed as part of a benefit concert for victims of the 2011 T?hoku earthquake and tsunami. The concert, which took place on March 27th at Columbia University in New York City, also included YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND, John Zorn, Sonic Youth, and Mike Patton. Following the success of this show, Cibo Matto performed again at a second benefit on the 29th of the same month, which also featured YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND and Patti Smith Group. Lou Reed and Antony of Antony and Johnsons were surprise guests at this event.
This file is taken from the archives of the formerly Oakland, CA-based collective Beep, a vaporjazz trio commissioned to compose the canned music heard in the vast underground network of hyperloop vac-trains that connects all cities of the future to one another. Their music was first heard in Tokyo making such a blissful electro-racket that the passengers in each of the 214 capsules were lulled into a deep powertrance. When the tubes surfaced forty-five minutes later in LA, passersby heard a faint jangle of the West Coast jazz their ancestors used to fancy. The Blind Seer of Playa Del Rey exclaimed, “It’s as if somebody rescored Trout Mask Replica using Skrillex’s synth banks,” but nobody ever knows what the old fool is saying. Shadows of a piano, a bass, and something formerly known as drums cast across the citizens’ collective unconscious just for a fleeting moment before the compartments sealed and the sound dissipated into the ether, bound for Lagos where a repeating four-note blip infected every last dancehall in the country.

Michael Coleman, Nate Brenner, and Sam Ospovat write the music of Beep while observing Earth from the comforts of a metaphoric utopian space station society, and in this way, worldly/otherworldly is the nature of their craft. They work in their lab developing alien/gremlin translator boxes and trying to teach robots to swing in reverse. Most of what they know of society they’ve learned from old Brian de Palma laserdiscs, as they’ve been assured by their terrestrial contact that these films are wildly accurate in their portrayal. The three believe that lightheartedness is the key to everlasting youth. When apart, which is rare, they perform as Young Nudist, Naytronix, and Piki respectively, while Naytronix splits his time docking with the tUnE-yArDs mothership as bassist/synth extraordinaire.


It’s been a busy few years for the gentlemen of Beep, and Too Physical, the trio’s fourth album, shows the growth that frenetic schedules can bring about. Since the release of the glossy City of the Future in 2011, each member has struck out on solo paths, launching careers under the monikers Naytronix, Piki, and Young Nudist. Piki himself relocated to Brooklyn, forcing the majority of their latest offering to be a cross-country collaboration. With that in mind, it’s truly a wonder how Beep manages to appear here as a more cohesive unit than ever, but they do.

Using CotF as the foundation, Michael, Nate, and Sam unabashedly tear up the infrastructure of said city and rebuild from the ground up, creating a hyperglobalized multiplex of a world in which alien and robot collide with perfect three-part harmony and free improvisations on one another’s instruments appear alongside the mastery that each have on his own. Too Physical comes together like a post-jazz DJ mixtape, racing around from catchy melody to glitchy bliss, rap skit to superb cameo by Bay Area freakcalist Lorin Benedict, profundity to absurdity, and culminating in a nod to their former selves in "Alice Again,” a revisitation of “Alice” off of their debut album Short Stories featuring a chorus that would warm Vince Guaraldi’s heart on the coldest of winter nights.
Venue Information:
Music Hall of Williamsburg
66 North 6th St
Brooklyn, NY, 11249