Chimera Music announces the return of Cibo Matto with “Hotel Valentine,” released on Feb. 14.
Cibo Matto — Miho Hatori and Yuka C. Honda — burst on the scene in 1994 with a cantankerous mix of sounds and culture. They quickly became the darlings of the New York City scene before going global, but went their separate ways in 2001.
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. 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 (Italian for “crazy food”) would become. Within six months, David Byrne came to see them at a show and Warner Brothers 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 style to cement them in the budding consciousness of the MTV generation with his legendary video for “Sugar Water.” They sold over 100,000 of both of albums and graced seven magazine covers.
Many fans discovered Cibo Matto performing in an infamous scene on an early episode of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” Spin magazine included the debut album 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.” Their adoring fanbase grew until 2001, when the band announced an extended hiatus.
During that 10-year interval, both women worked on numerous interesting projects. Honda released three solo experimental albums on Zorn’s Tzadik Records, recorded albums with jazz great Dave Douglas and Yoshimi (of the Boredoms), meanwhile producing a number of Japanese pop artists and acclaimed albums by Lennon, Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band and Martha Wainwright.
Hatori released a solo album, two Brazilian discs with Beck guitarist Smokey Hormel and percussionist Mauro Refosco, guested on three Beastie Boys songs, and sang the role of Noodle on the Gorillaz’ first album, including lead vocals on the hit “19-2000.”
Says Honda, “Having spent some time apart, we became more aware of our magical chemistry, our magnetic bond. We both realized we had unfinished business.”
“‘Hotel Valentine’ is the cinematic bricolage of Yuka and me,” says Hatori. “Our medium is music. For me, making an album is like raising a child. We don’t know what kind of person (story) they will end up to be.”
“Picking up where they’d left off, Cibo Matto have made their most impressive and cinematic album, packed with kaleidoscopic grooves, demented horns, crazy synthesizers and funky-but-chic blasts of pure danceability,” the record label said.
Their national tour includes the following stops in California:
• Sunday, Feb. 23, at 8 p.m. at the Constellation Room, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana
• Monday, Feb. 24, at 9 p.m. at El Rey Theatre, 5515 S. Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles
• Wednesday, Feb. 26, at 8 p.m. at Slim’s, 333 11th St., San Francisco