Cibo Matto Viva! La Woman on 180g LP
Whoever thought that when "Know Your Chicken" came out in the mid-90s it would make such a mark on the culture? We're talking about a surrealist pastiche about magenta chickens set to boom-bap breakbeats and muted trumpet, rapped by a pair of grinning Japanese girls so obsessed with eating that they named every song on their first record, Viva! La Woman, after food. It doesn't exactly spell commercial success, especially for a then-unknown avant-pop act from New York City who's name is Italian for "Crazy Food."
Cibo Matto's music is an entirely self-contained world, a look into the fantasy lives of Hatori and Honda. Both women were raised in Japan, but met in New York's vivid 90s Lower East Side art scene that included John Zorn, Sean Lennon, the Beastie Boys, and Marc Ribot, a brief period of colorful experimentation at the outset of the Giuliani administration. Soon after they met, the pair formed a punk band called Leitoh Lychee (frozen lychee nut), which eventually morphed into the post-genre freakout that Cibo Matto would become. Within six months, David Byrne came to see them at a show and Warner Bros. picked them up off the strength of one self-released cassette tape.
This initiated one of the most colorful careers of the '90s. Cibo Matto exploded internationally, touring worldwide and releasing two classic records, 1996's Viva! La Woman and 1999's Stereo Type A. Their live shows and albums were marked by wild experimentation, incorporating hip-hop, Brazilian music, African and Latin jazz, and pop into their unclassifiable mix. They collaborated extensively with Yoko Ono, as well as the renowned French director Michel Gondry, who lent his visionary style to cement them in the budding consciousness of the MTV generation with his legendary video for "Sugar Water."
Spin magazine included their debut Viva! La Woman in their "100 Best Albums of the ‘90s" list and Time magazine picked it in their list of the "Best Hip Hop Albums of All Time." In 2014 the duo issued Hotel Valentine, their first full-length album in 15 years.