By Kirsten Becker
Japanese expatriates Yuka Honda and Miho Hatori are the creative minds behind Cibo Matto (Italian for “crazy food”). The group received heavy praise for their first two albums, Viva! La Woman and Stereo Type A in the 90s before they went on hiatus for the new millenium. Honda and Hatori still remained very active, doing collaborations with Yoko Ono, The Gorillaz, and Beck as well as solo gigs during those years. In 2011, Cibo Matto announced they were back together and were recording new music, much to the excitement of diehard fans everywhere.
Cibo Matto’s earlier music mostly consisted of songs about food, yet they gradually expanded their subject matter over the years. Hotel Valentine, which is officially released today, is their most mature album to date. Appearances from Nels Cline (Wilco) and Mauro Refosco (Atoms For Peace) are included with Cibo Matto’s signature mix of trip-hop, pop, and funk tunes. To add to the Valentine’s Day theme, Hatori and Honda have also handwritten Valentine’s cards for those who pre-ordered the album. The record is also released on Sean Lennon’s label Chimera Music.
After 15 years of hiatus, Cibo Matto has returned to tour the country to mostly sold out dates. I was beyond excited to get a chance to catch them at The Boot and Saddle on February 11. I pretty much counted out the idea of ever getting to see them live, never thinking they would record a follow up to Stereo Type A. They started off the night with just the two main members playing. Classic “Sugar Water” started off the set, which featured Hatori’s soft whispered vocals and mysterious backing beats. Later on, the two ladies were joined by Yuko and Jared Samuels for a full band to play new songs from Hotel Valentine. “Moonchild,” “Deja Vu” and “MFN” were all highs of the night. Cibo Matto graciously thanked the crowd for their support at the end of the set, but very quickly came back to entertain the fans with an encore, including the song “Happy Birthday.”
Cibo Matto continue their reunion tour through March. Check out Hotel Valentine as well as the rest of the band’s impressive catalog.