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Culture Reviews
Oui Oui
By Hugh McGregor
Walking into Zheltoye More, the first thing that struck me was how much pink there was. The whole courtyard was submerged in neon pink light, which enhanced the pink roses that had been liberally strewn around. Geisha girls attired in pink silk kimonos proffered ornately carved miniature boats packed with succulent pink sushi, while display cases of pink china dolls lined up down one wall. The overall impression was that the entire room had been dipped in candyfloss, with the exception perhaps of the groups of models distributing free cigarettes, who were incongruously dressed as Greek goddesses.

This saccharine environment was created as a backdrop to a gig by curious Japanese trio Oui Oui. Put together on an ad hoc basis to play at fashion events and clubs, Oui Oui consist of two almost identical vocalists – Maki Nomiya (a former member of the slightly better known retro-popsters Pizzicato Five) and Rieko Teramoto, who are backed up by DJ Noboru on the decks. A true Renaissance man, DJ Noburo also does the girls’ matching hair and makeup. They’re not a group that I was familiar with beforehand, and given that the crowd was largely comprised of bull-necked biznezmen and their gamine, teetering 20-yr old girlfriends I doubt they had too many longstanding fans in the audience.

The event was however so well prepared that there was a palpable sense of excitement in the room when DJ Noboru strutted out on stage in his red velvet pimp suit. As he broke out the first tune (a remix of Buggles’ ‘video killed the radiostar’) the girls came on in identical kimonos, twirled their parasols and sang in shrill Japanese while performing a sychronised dance routine. The effect was total kitsch, and the trouble with kitsch is that, no matter how well it’s put together, it’s got as much substance as the soap bubbles that blow out into the crowd while Oui Oui perfom.

After a couple of very similar tunes the novelty wore off and the biznezmen went back to fumbling with their chopsticks and comparing ostentatious watches. Sensing this dissipation Maki and Rieko appeared to give up too, and spent much of the remainder of their set standing listlessly behind the decks while DJ Noboru cheerfully leapt around blowing a whistle.

Uniquely for a pop group, Oui Oui have yet to release any recordings. This is probably a good thing, since listening to their music for a protracted period of time was almost as painful as having to pay 500r for a drink at Zheltoye More’s bar. Despite this, I would definitely recommend checking out one if their infrequent gigs should you get the chance – the meticulously prepared surroundings made for an entirely unique event, and Oui Oui’s performance was original and entertaining… for ten minutes. So long as you concentrate on your sushi rather than the music you should have an enjoyable evening!

06.06.05
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