Will Long isn’t one to rest. In addition to Celer releases that continue to appear in at-times bewildering frequency, he operates the Two Acorns label and Floor Sugar record store, and now adds the Oh, Yoko project to his CV. It’s a two-person group that pairs Long (synthesizer) with Rie Mitsutake (piano, acoustic guitar, vocals), who has issued full-length albums on Plop and Someone Good under the alias Miko. As their debut twenty-six-minute EP, Seashore, shows, theirs is a fragile and retiring electro-acoustic sound one might classify as nostalgic ambient-pop. As satisfying as their lone original is (which comes from Oh, Yoko’s forthcoming debut album), the EP’s major selling point is the participation of Terre Thaemlitz, who contributes a remix of the song under his own name and a club-oriented one as DJ Sprinkles.
The original is about as pretty a reverie as one would expect, given the personnel involved. Long’s subtle synthesizer atmospheres nicely complement the fragile musings that Mitsutake herself supports with a ruminative flow of piano and acoustic guitar shadings. There’s more going on than might be suggested by the laid-back, home-made vibe projected by the piece, with the vocal multiplied and both alternating back-and-forth from one channel to the other and literally doubling up and Long’s synth quiver rising and falling in quasi-parallel manner.
Having removed Mitsutake’s vocal altogether, Thaemlitz’s instrumental remix shifts the focus to piano meander and Long’s synth flutter before introducing a computerized voice element whose one-word pronouncements recalls both the ambient style of his own wonderful Couture Cosmetique(Caipirinha Productions, 1997) but also, obviously, Kraftwerk (“Computer-World” perhaps more than any other).
Though obviously far different in character than the other tracks, the “Sprinkles Ambient Ballroom” remix credited to DJ Sprinkles is the EP’s most vivacious cut—not that that’s a surprise, given its exuberant club style. Thaemlitz animates the original with a smorgasbord of body-moving techno and house beats, hi-hats, and synth pulsations, while also retaining enough of a connection to the original that its identity is preserved. An intimate conversation surfaces halfway through featuring the encouraging words of some therapist type addressed to someone wrestling with confusion and uncertainty (“And I hope you won’t give in to despair, that’s what I want to tell you. It’s so hard making sense of our lives…”), after which the angelic drift of Mitsutake’s wordless voice grows more dominant. With Thaemlitz on hand, the EP adds up to a promising start for Long’s latest project.