Announcing the new album from WHY?, titled AOKOHIO.
From the classic Alopecia, to their 2017 favorite Moh Lhean, WHY? has spent nearly two decades traveling the remote sonic terrain where underground hip hop, avant-pop, and psych-rock meet. Today we are incredibly honored to bring you their new opus, AOKOHIO.
Possibly the most autobiographical album in the WHY? catalog, the 19-song AOKOHIO is undeniably new and forward-thinking, but it still contains all the personality that we've come to expect from WHY?... But calling AOKOHIO an "album" is actually a little misleading. Yoni Wolf actually recorded this piece of music as 6 distinct parts, each with their own purpose and identity. And to honor Yoni's original vision for the music, we have done something rather insane for the limited vinyl... instead of just making the VIP edition a different color of the 12" pressing, we did a special pressing of three separate 10" records, so that each of these 6 "chunks" (as Yoni calls them) can exist as its own distinct entity... each piece of music on its own side of a record.
AOKOHIO also has an amazing visual component, where the entire album is being made into a stunning video. The first movement is available right here, and released just today is the continuation, movement two.
The 3x10" box set VIP Edition is limited to 1000 hand-numbered copies, pressed on deluxe primary-colored vinyl, marbled with bone. This edition includes vinyl-only bonus tracks, extra artwork, and high quality MP3 + WAV download (instant download of 6 tracks, with the rest sent before 08/30).
Plus, 1 in every 5 copies are signed by Yoni.
Or stream / download from your preferred platform here: lnk.to/why-ii
Check out the stunning video for: II. I’ve been carving my elbows, I might just take flight.
Dig in further...
Yoni Wolf has spent the last two decades traveling the remote sonic terrain where underground hip hop, avant-pop, and psych-rock meet. Some of Yoni’s most compelling and critically-praised musical experiments have been issued under the moniker WHY? and his latest entry is no exception. On AOKOHIO Yoni condenses the essential elements of WHY? into a stunningly potent musical vision.
“Yoni Wolf has spent the last two decades traveling the remote sonic terrain where ”
Co-produced by Yoni and his brother Josiah, AOKOHIO presents a rich palette of musical voices that emerge and disappear into a constantly shifting kaleidoscope of sound. “I wanted a wide variety of sounds. I didn't want this album to sit in one sonic zone. I've always felt like too jagged of a person to be smooth in that way,” Yoni says. While the album features many notable guest contributors, from Lala Lala’s Lillie West, to Nick Sanborn and Amelia Meath of Sylvan Esso, the listener’s attention remains squarely directed on Yoni’s voice and vision.
AOKOHIO finds Yoni rethinking fundamental aspects of his approach to creating and delivering his music. The album is presented as six movements comprised of two to four songs each, with some segments appearing as brief fragments that dissolve within seconds.
“When I started this project, I decided I needed to try a new approach in creating music and how I work,” Yoni reflects. “I wasn't feeling the idea of going back in and making another ten or twelve song album. It felt arduous. It felt like too much. So I wanted to pare the process down and make it manageable. I thought, 'Why don't I make small five or six minute movements and finish up each movement before I move on to the next.' That's how I started approaching it. The whole process took over five years, I'd start working on something and set it aside for awhile. The earliest songs on this album started in 2013.“
As Yoni reimagined his approach to creating music, he also began thinking of new ways to share the music with his audience. “I initially wanted to release the music as I progressed through the project,” Yoni says. “When I finished a movement I wanted to put it up digitally on Bandcamp or Soundcloud. I just wanted to make little pieces of music and put them out there. But I had a call with my manager and the label and they said, 'We can release stuff through time like that, but we want to do it properly.' So the idea of the project changed after that, but it retained the integrity of working in movements. It's definitely a very different way of working for me. I think it has yielded some interesting results.”
The concept of sharing AOKOHIO in segments over time has been preserved with the release of an accompanying visual album. “I think it's a very artful way of putting the music out there,” Yoni explains. “It's like a television series, it's revealing itself slowly over time. I think it's cool that the audience gets to hear it one piece at a time, and has to wait and digest each piece before they get the next one.”
“I knew early on that I wanted that visual element for this album,” Yoni recalls. “My brother and I have worked on video stuff our whole lives. Our dad had video equipment since we were little kids, he had an editing suite in our basement. We weren't rich, we were actually fairly poor, but somehow he'd gotten ahold of these video editing decks and cameras. Even though my brother and I had dabbled in video as kids, it's not what we do for a living. So we wanted to find someone, and fucking randomly a guy messaged me on Instagram and was like, 'Hey, I like your music and I'd love to work with you.' I looked at his work and I was like, 'This guy is for real!' “
The author of that fateful Instagram message was Sundance award-winning director Miles Joris-Peyrafitte. “Miles directed the first three segments of the visual album and is the mastermind of the overarching video project,” Yoni explains. Joris-Peyrafitte’s visuals cut contemporary footage of Yoni and actress Tatiana Maslany with vintage home videos documenting Yoni’s childhood life in Cincinnati. It’s a fitting juxtaposition, as Yoni’s lyrics on AOKOHIO seem to question how memory, history, and place shape our anxieties and sense of self. “I moved back to Cincinnati after living in the Bay Area for over a decade,” Yoni says. “This album is very much me thinking about my mom and dad, and my siblings.”
Yoni’s return to his Ohio hometown brought on a period of critical self-reflection. “Is there a word for bad nostalgia?” Yoni asks. “When I think of the word nostalgia, it seems like pleasant feelings and all that, but this is not really like that. It's more about reflecting on the anxieties I've had since I was born. Why are they there? Is this epigenetics? Is that shit just inside of me because of the Holocaust and my relatives back then? What am I really? Why do I operate in these ways?”
Ultimately AOKOHIO sees Yoni pushing to find meaning and peace of mind in the moment, even if it’s not exactly where he wants to be. “The title is sarcastic I guess,” Yoni offers. “But it's also wishful. A lot of my album titles have been names of maladies, like Alopecia and Mumps, Etc. I don't want to project that into the world. You know, ‘A-OK Ohio, I'm here and it's fine.’ It's like a mantra, ‘A-OK Ohio, I'm here and it's OK.’ Even though in reality, everyday I'm like, 'I've got to get the hell out of Ohio.' “
AOKOHIO feels like a consequential addition to the WHY? catalog, possibly even an artistic turning point. But its creator remains circumspect when asked to comment on the album’s significance within his discography, instead preferring to characterize the work as the latest iteration of his deep commitment to his artistic practice. “I have no idea if this record is good or not,” Yoni says. “But I never really know. I know that I've never written a song that's indispensable to the American songbook. But in terms of what it is, it's a piece of art. I put blood, sweat, and tears into this album, and struggled through the creative process as I always do. As far as where this sits with the rest of my albums? I can't answer that. I just know that my career is a lifelong career, and I’m working it. Every time it feels right, it makes me feel good.”
(Digital Release Date 08/09)
(Physical Release Date 08/30)
I. I may come out a broken yolk, I may come out on saddle.
2. The Rash
3. Peel Free
II. I’ve been carving my elbows, I might just take flight.
5. Deleterio Motilis
6. Stained Glass Slipper
III. Please take me home, I don’t belong here.
7. The Launch
8. High Dive
9. Mr. Fifths’ Plea
10. Good Fire
IV. The surgeon nervously goes on, he never claimed to be God.
12. The Crippled Physician
V. I want to live with conviction, in silence and diction.
14. My Original
15. Rock Candy
16. Once Shy
VI. Though I’m tired, I’m still trying.
17. The Shame
18. Bloom Wither Bloom (for Mom)