In December of 2016, three improvisational luminaries performed live together for the first time. Multi-instrumentalist YoshimiO (Boredoms, OOIOO, SAICOBAB), avant-garde percussionist Susie Ibarra, and artist Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe (Lichens) met up in New York City for a singular evening of exquisite sound, documenting an exceptional performance and displaying their remarkable talents. Since their initial encounter, the trio have continued to perform together under the name Yunohana Variations, with a full UK tour in 2018 commissioned by experimental music network Outlands.
YoshimiO is a drummer and member of the revolutionary group Boredoms who also plays guitar, keyboard and trumpet. She is the leader of the experimental band OOIOO, a member of Free Kitten with Kim Gordon (ex. Sonic Youth), and most recently the vocalist in SAICOBAB – a quartet who blend ancient Indian musical traditions and instruments with electronics and modern sounds. Known for her ability to improvise in a variety of contexts, YoshimiO has previously performed and recorded improvisational music with saxophonist Mats Gustafsson, Jim O’Rourke, and recently with Lowe, and then Ibarra during a series of collaborative performances in New York City, late in 2015.
Susie Ibarra, is one of the most significant female percussionists and composers of our time, known for her work as a performer within contemporary, avant-garde, jazz, classical, and world music. Ibarra studied with jazz luminaries Earl Buster Smith (of Sun Ra Arkestra), Vernel Fournier and Milford Graves, and Philippine Kulintang gong-chime music with Danongan Kalanduyan. Ibarra has been recognized for her work as a musician and cultural documenter through her work with indigenous tribes in the Philippines, receiving a TED Fellowship, an Asian Cultural Council Rockefeller Fellowship, and an award from New York Foundation for the Arts. She has performed with the likes of: John Zorn, Dave Douglas, Yo La Tengo, Mamadou Kelly, Sylvie Courvoisier, Ikue Mori, Marc Ribot, Yuka Honda, Derek Bailey, Wadada Leo Smith, and many more. Ibarra currently leads her band Dreamtime Ensemble with their new album Perception, blending strings, vocals, electronics and percussion in her compositions. Recent works include Mirrors and Water, a sound installation for Ai Wei Wei's Circle of Animals at the National Wildlife Museum; Musical Water Routes of Fez, a music and architecture app for the Medina of Fez, Morocco in collaboration with architect Aziza Chaouni; Fragility: An Exploration of Polyrhythms, an interactive game piece commissioned by Asia Society in partnership with the Pioneer Works residency program.
Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe is a multidisciplinary artist whose practice is strongly rooted in exploration of moments and the hypnagogic state. Movement and gesture play key factors within this process, and in the performance realm are focused on by voice and modular synthesizer. His most recent work has seen him curating an exhibition at the Museum Of Arts and Design in Manhattan called Subject to Gesture, as well as exhibiting works at the Rubin Museum in a show called the World is Sound as well as at the John Michael Kohler Art Centre in Sheboygan Wisconsin called An Encounter with Presence. Lowe has contributed music to Denis Villeneuve films Sicario and Arrival, and was a fixture of Chicago’s experimental community throughout the 90s and early 2000s prior to relocating to New York.
Susie explains the idea: "We had all performed in different configurations before but never together as a trio. I think actually I have met each YoshimiO and Robert at different times when collaborating on larger works with Tarek Atoui. But we had not performed together as trio. I was very happy with the prospect to play a trio concert, as I could imagine the sonic palette could be very interesting, being that we each come from different aesthetic backgrounds but enjoy crossing into various sonic territories.”
The resulting recording of their collaboration, Flower of Sulphur, is a transfixing piece of continuous improvisational work which explores the direct relationship between the artists and their individual configurations. The album takes the form of the trio each playing their principal instruments with no specific goal other than the exploration of the space in that moment.
This spontaneous composition showcases the freedom and musical immediacy of all three artists’ ability to interplay as well as their individual unique techniques to create engaging experimental sounds. Flower of Sulphur was recorded at Roulette in Brooklyn in front of an audience; the trio are hoping to make additional live performances throughout 2018. The hour long instillation builds to a captivating crescendo elegantly fusing immersive layers, rewarding the listener with a true emotive experience.
YoshimiO / Susie Ibarra / Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe "Flower of Sulphur" Unboxing Video
YoshimiO / Susie Ibarra / Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe "Flower of Sulphur" Album Trailer
Yunohana Variations live at Supersonic Festival 2018