One of the many things that stands out about Panuu, the debut full-length by mmm (aka Moe Ishii), is the joyousness of the group sound she explores. After a gentle opener, “bye bye,” where mmm’s bird-like voice flutters over acoustic guitar, “magical omnibus” bursts into life with vividness and vivaciousness, rich with skittering percussion, and a wayward groove that recalls nothing so much as a big band playing swing. That’s maybe a weird connection, but Panuu goes all kinds of places, from droning arco double bass to homespun miniatures like “there there,” doubtless partly due to the musicians that join Ishii, wildly creative types like Taku Unami and Masafumi Ezaki. It’s a great album that constantly surprises.
– Jon Dale