ORGAN THING: Mikado Koko’s Songs To Our Other Selves, a gloriously avant garde reworking of Penny Rimbaud’s Acts of Love…

Mikado Koko – Songs To Our Other Selves (Caliban Sounds) – “Japanese outsider poet and producer, Mikado Koko, presents a new album on Caliban Sounds in association with One Little Independent Records, ‘To Our Other Selves’. The album is an exploration and continuation of Penny Rimbaud’s classic fifty track album ‘Acts of Love’, released in 1984”.

Now I’m not going to claim any kind of knowledge of the glorious art of Mikado Koko before this landed in the bursting at-the-seems Organ in-box demanding attention (and there is never enough time). Mikado Koko has taken Penny Rimbaud’s album Acts of Love, originally a fifty track album of short poems on love, and cut it up, deconstructed it, reconstructed it, pulled it apart and put it all back together (a lot more than just remixed it) to make a twenty track album of her own. Songs To Our Other Selves is an entirely new album, that we’re told that, and rightly so, we should view as a continuation of the original. What we have here are bites, stabs, thrusts of Crass-like noise, art, the art of noise. It is hard-boiled, it is challenging, it might be madness or maybe maddening, the whole thing is glorious actually. Those bites of words, the cut and paste deconstruction, the thrust, words caught, the art of collage, the real art of glorious noise, painting with sound. 

Okay, let’s cut up the press release – The album is an exploration and continuation of Penny Rimbaud’s classic fifty track album ‘Acts of Love’, released in 1984. On the inspiration behind the project, Mikado Koko noted “I knew that Penny Rimbaud’s Acts of Love is so special for him and Gee Vaucher. When I listened to the album while making generative art NFT, I came up with an idea for remixing it.

Koko has taken a piece of work, a body of work, an album that speaks of love in that almost unique way that only people from Crass could talk of love (okay, maybe not only people from Crass could, but those voice and that style is very distinctive, hopeful, I always found hope in Crass, however bleak they were being), she’s take an album that has already throw every kind of emotion at you and twisted it even further, taken it way way further. Do you need to have heard the original album, I’m not sure, maybe not, but a knowledge of the art and legacy of Crass, a familiarity with those distinctive voices might just help? On first listen you might find this brutal, it really isn’t though, Mikado Koko has actually done something beautiful here, something painterly – I have often passed you, we are as one, and just the right side of deconstructed, enough left to hang something on, to grab hold of – there is no warm horizon –  vitally, there is enough of the original still there, the words from Penny’s poems, performed in that way by Eve Libertine, it may sound like it at first, but nothing is unhinged here as lines are repeated again and again, words repeated cleverly, artfully, respectfully chopped up and repositioned, the season has us confused… nothing… the guilt you feel is your own… the season has us confused…. nothing…


Back to the press release – Penny Rimbaud composed, arranged and produced ‘Acts of Love’ with assistance from keyboardist Paul Ellis. The album consists of fifty short poems set to contemporary classical music, performed by Eve Libertine and Paul Ellis, and is accompanied by a book of fifty collages by artist Gee Vaucher. Koko describes the album as a perfect launchpad for her creativity and electronic experimentation to shine, “Eve Libertine’s vocals and Paul Ellis’s Prophet-5/DX7 are brilliant, and I am always inspired by the artwork by Gee. Therefore, I reconstructed 20 tracks by several types of generative cut-up algorithms, with love and respect”. Koko’s production takes Rimbaud’s classic work to new sonic territory whilst maintaining the integrity and concepts behind ‘Acts of Love’.

Okay, I’ll concede that, at first it is maybe a little awkward to listen to, nothing wrong with that though, who said art should be comfortable?  It takes a little time to tune in, to adjust to it all, let it gather you up though, let it take you with it, nothing awkward here, no confusion, no brutality, this is a beautiful labour of love, some kind of fresh avant-garde punk fascination. Sometimes operatic, sometimes synth-soothing, soothing? Yes soothing, deliciously experimental, wonderful, Run fox run…

For ‘Songs To Our Other Selves’, Koko has selected twenty tracks to extend Rimbaud’s short haiku-like bursts of energy into a fierce juggle of cutups and electronica, each track becoming a piece in its own right, yet somehow maintaining the poetic intensity of Rimbaud’s originals. Koko’s adaptations maintain the intensity of Rimbaud’s work, in particular allowing Libertine’s dynamically expressive vocal performances to demand attention whilst introducing glitchy, mind-bending electronic elements, warping Rimbaud’s recordings into otherworldly, surreal sounds. Koko’s creation was inspired by Gee Vaucher’s artworks, Dada inversion and, notably, William Burrough’s cut-up wordplay, rearranging Rimbaud’s lyricism and Libertine’s performances to create new meaning and present new ideas, giving ‘Acts of Love’ a fresh lease of life for a new audience. Koko has crafted a musical koan in which nothing makes any sense but its own, and therein life’s greatest riddle.

“the ofttimes raucous sound “, I like that, And who doesn’t like to cut things up?  So much commitment to the original here, hang on, let’s jump on and go again, I like this ride, that start is excellent, play it again, while we cut the press release up a bit more  –In her titling of ‘Songs To Our Other Selves’, Koko pays homage to Rimbaud’s ‘Acts of Love’ dedication – ‘Songs to my Other Self’, the question here being just who or what are these selves? Written in the late 60s and early 70s, Rimbaud’s early Taoist, poetic wanderings are reimagined through Koko’s instinctual understanding of the meaning of meaninglessness and the ofttimes raucous sound of silence.

Koko began her solo career as a club producer using elements of Japanese traditional music. After many releases, remixes and compilations, she now focuses on avant-garde poetry reading and post-genre composition. Her relationship with Penny Rimbaud was forged through her submitting a track, ‘Asylum’, for the Crass Records remix project, ‘Normal Never Was’. The track was selected for inclusion alongside dance floor giant, Steve Aoki, as the first release in the series. Koko and Rimbaud then collaborated on a track for her album, ‘Alice in Cryptoland’, including the single, ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’, which also features Eve Libertine. Despite being almost 50 years and 6000 miles apart, Koko and Rimbaud’s collaboration continues to bear fruit, with the pair appearing as a single force on ‘Songs To Our Other Selves’, creating a new international language to an old story, that of love – a love supreme.

A love supreme indeed, love it, glorious art, excellent album, beautiful, the art of far more than noise  (sw)

Penny Rimbaud’s ‘Acts of Love’ will be re-released over the coming months on One Little Independent Records.

Links: Mikado Koko – Facebook / Twitter Caliban – Facebook / Instagram / Twitter OLI – Website


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s