A nice, mouth-filling name, recalling the disjointed muttering of infant children when they learn to speak. In reality, Ogogo is the pseudonym of Igor Grigoriev, whose calling card reads so: “igOr – music, guitars”. The man has a funny website, where everything he uses and consumes (junk food, too) is carefully listed, including every single processor and pedal. Let’s put this straight from the beginning: the cat can play the instrument, and were I the Guitar Player editor, an article about Grigoriev should constitute a priority in the “curiosity list” (rest easy, Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen). There is a degree of compositional substance in what Ogogo does, though, not exclusively six-string pyrotechnics: structure, irony in large doses, not to mention the absolutely wild arrangements of the bulk of the pieces. Some of these cookies made me think of Henry Kaiser and Sergei Kuryokhin in pseudo-techno sauce. Just a vague superficial resemblance, obviously we’re not at the same levels of originality.
The stuff I’ve been able to listen to is comprised by three CDs. Lunar Surphase features several bizarre ideas, a few monotonous snippets and abundant quantities of tarradiddle turned into acceptable music, which in my book is a compliment. The fusion of scalar studies, volume swells, space-trip chords and trumpets that sound like a dwarf Jon Hassell (courtesy of Andrei Solovyov) in untidy jumbles delineated by spastic drum machine patterns are well worth a try, provided you’re looking for fun and not expecting the Revelation of the New Verb. Redux is the less amusing recording, the improvisations lacking the usual sarcastic steam to direct instead in the realm of inconsequential noodling, without genuine musical meaning. The duets with MIDI-enhanced trombonist Rod Oakes are not exactly what common men would love to hear at their funeral, and – in general – the whole record doesn’t sting, the sounds suspended between nothingness and mortality (get the Mahavishnu pun?). Honestly, I’d have left these tapes in the vault. On the contrary, Linden retrieves the right spirit of creative anarchy and a bit of predetermined design in the tracks, which in this case are complementing a series of pictures and sculptures by visual artist Ron Linden (reproduced in the CD booklet). “The K” is my overall favourite Ogogo piece: a semi-regular overdriven pulse introducing a run of preposterous scales and interlocking figurations creating weird counterpoints punctuated by the sample of a squawking chicken (STOP PRESS 12/31/09: Mr. Grigoriev just emailed to specify that it’s actually a peacock – so much for this countryman’s animal expertise). Sublimely cheap, and that’s all she wrote. If you want to laugh a bit while enjoying the best jokes that Igor has to offer, perhaps starting from here will be the correct choice.
(Note: the above review should not encourage unskilled incompetents to burn a CDR of weird-sounding bullshit and send it to this writer).