REVIEW: Thurston Moore and Pika at Cafe Oto

Pika and Thurston Moore at Cafe Oto, July 2015
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Thurston Moore and Pika (Cafe Oto, 15th July 2015. Review and drawing by Geoff Winston)

Pika is something of an unsung musical heroine in these parts. Osaka-based, with part-Taiwanese heritage, the diminutive, renegade drummer was one half of the self-styled 'ultra-lunatic', proto-punk, female duo, Afrirampo, who disbanded in 2010. They recorded with psych-freak-out gurus, Acid Mothers Temple ('We are Acid Mothers Temple Afrirampo') with whom Pika continues to perform and toured with Sonic Youth, a fruitful connection which has led to Pika's occasional concerts with Thurston Moore. Pika was also invited to perform with Yoko Ono and the Plastic Ono Band in New York and maintains a similarly independent approach to Ono in her music, art and, latterly, politics.

The close confines of Cafe Oto were the perfect platform for Pika's duo concert with Thurston Moore. They delivered a liberating performance full of invention, energy and enjoyment, flushed through with a telepathic absorption that allowed Moore to push his guitar dynamics to the limit and for Pika to make a weighty - and witty - percussive and performative impact.

What came through particularly strongly was the undeniable musicality of it all. The flow of ideas between Moore and Pika was constant and seamless. No matter how brittle or glutinously dense the thread, Pika's attack on her drum kit always intertwined the rhythmic with the melodic, as she and Moore built up a searing, symphonic momentum. A fiercely well drilled discipline underscored the duo's improvised power play to maximise the expressive potential of the dialogue.

Humour was not absent as the second set opened with a spot of balloon juggling by Pika, with amplified rubbery sounds and a couple of unscheduled pops to boot. She intermittently burst in to song, not far from Yoko Ono territory, while Moore coaxed raw, poetic statements from the fretboard and feedback. A touch of sampling, a lot of smiling and an encore that could have been a deconstruction of White Light White Heat put the seal on a great Cafe Oto concert - a benchmark for the fresh, the creative and an element of the unexpected. Ears were singing for while after the event, too!

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