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Buffalo Daughter

The future of rock music is here and its name is Buffalo Daughter. For close to a decade this wild Tokyo three-piece has been lynchpin of the Japanese cut-and-paste rock movement which has also gifted the world with such varied and wondrous delights as Cibo Matto (to whom Buffalo Daughter has been likened once or twice), Pizzicato Five, Takako Minekawa, and Cornelius. Throughout most of the '90s, Buffalo Daughter were one of the more interesting groups in the Beastie Boys' stable of cutting-edge artists on their now-defunct Grand Royal label. Thanks to the band's unique configuration (two women on big guitars and one zany deck technician), fascination with all manner of musical arcane, and oodles of vigorous creativity, BD were able to put out some of the best underground rock records of the decade. From the very beginning, their albums were odd, chimerical wonderlands where it seemed anything could happen: '70s proto-electronic fetishism brushed up against furious acid-rock guitar riffs, aggressive breakbeat samples danced tango with sublime harmonies and tropicalia textures. As they've aged, they've only grown better at refining that everything-but-the-kitchen-sink approach.

The trio's start actually came doing music for commercials, movies, and videogame soundtracks, a natural enough preparation for the sonic collage art they'd begin making later on. In 1994, BD issued their debut, Shaggy Hairdressers, and a year later followed with Amoeba Sound System, both on the small Japanese independent Cardinal. Seeking broader exposure, the trio signed to Grand Royal, first releasing their Legend of the Yellow Buffalo EP, then following in 1996 with their stateside debut, Captain Vapour Athletes, which drew from the two earlier records as well as some unreleased material. Their 1998 follow-up, the excellent New Rock, displayed the same penchant for stylistic pastiche that marked their debut, but with greater emphasis on melody and restraint; the collagist tendencies, still integral to the group's identity, were now complemented by increasing degrees of soul and personal vision. Three idiosyncratic Buffalo Daughter remix releases also appeared Grand Royal before that label's sad demise.

For their fifth full-length effort, the transcendent 2002 LP I, Buffalo Daughter moved to the welcoming quarters of Los Angeles-based Emperor Norton. The record's marvelous grab bag of delights would seem to signal that the transformation heralded by New Rock is somewhere near complete; Buffalo Daughter has evolved from manic, ingenious parroting of pop culture esoterica to definitive cultural statements. There is no longer any affect to the band's still-dazzling eclecticism, I's songs are cohesive and coherent. It's the sound of "nowhere," says guitarist and songwriter Sugar Yoshinaga, by which perhaps she means that I is the sound of Buffalo Daughter rather than the sound of their great record collections. Or to put it another way, those obscure items from their record collections are still part of the picture, they're just now percolated through the simultaneously avant-garde and accessible brand of millennial auteurism which has become Buffalo Daughter's modus operandi.

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