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Phantom Limb

WaqWaq Kingdom - Hot Pot Totto

WaqWaq Kingdom - Hot Pot Totto

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Acclaimed Japan “minyo footwork” duo WaqWaq Kingdom - aka Shigeru Ishihara (DJ Scotch Egg / Seefeel) and Kiki Hitomi (ex-King Midas Sound) - return with feverishly joyous new album Hot Pot Totto, a bubbling hot pot of dance music that responds to ecological anxiety.

“Two words are conjoined: hot pot and ottotto,” vocalist Kiki Hitomi tells us. “Ottotto is the Japanese equivalent of “oops”, or said when someone nearly falls over but manages to get their balance back: “it was dangerous but now we are safe!” Combined with the heady brew of their musical styles (“like a psychedelic Nabe hot pot: melting traditional Japanese Minyo with Jamaican dancehall, footwork, dub, techno, tribal polyrhythms and Super Nintendo soundtracks”), producer Shige Ishihara’s time in East Africa working with local musicians, and the dayglo hallucinogen of the duo’s visual aesthetic, WaqWaq Kingdom’s thumping, thrilling, irresistible third release is a unique ride.

Thematically - despite its ostensibly celebratory impact - Hot Pot Totto addresses the world’s grave ecological state. “Now our earth is on the way to catastrophe, as global warming becomes a serious problem through humanity’s fault. We are on the edge,” Hitomi writes. “We need to get back on the right track.” The ottotto of the album title refers to this experience - the need to get back on track. However, this is not lamenting music: it is fiercely defiant, full of colour and rapture, maintaining an optimism that we can.

Opening single “Hakke Yoi” ties treated voice, a floor-shaking beat, and a dizzying, transforming colour palette to a heart-quickening BPM. The track is named after the traditional cry of a sumo wrestling match, shouted by the referee to maintain tempo, commonly translated as “put some spirit into it!” The lyrics refer to humanity’s sacrifice of our planet for our own material gains. Later, key track “Buri Buri” features Ugandan experimental dance producer Catu Diosis and centres around the lyric “Turn disaster to our advantage / good fortune and happiness will come to those who smile,” offering not regret but encouragement and empowerment with its neon alien sonics and relentless vibrancy.

Kiki Hitomi was formerly a member of Ninja Tune / Hyperdub’s King Midas Sound (along with The Bug and Roger Robinson), and co-founded iconic Japanese dubstep-noise duo Dokkebi Q. She is also a celebrated illustrator and designer, having created artwork for countless record sleeves (including this one) and brands. Shigeru Ishihara - aka DJ Scotch Egg - has been orbiting the dance music galaxy for over a decade, releasing radiantly unpredictable solo records through Lightning Bolt’s Load Records, as a member of Warp Records’ legendary Seefeel, and performing with both projects across the world. He recently undertook a residency at the Nyege Nyege Villa in Uganda, working with Phantom Limb alumnus MC Yallah. More recently, Ishihara has been releasing music under the guise of Scotch Rolex, collaborating with the likes of Shackleton, Swordman Kitala, Lord Spikeheart and more.

Hot Pot Totto is WaqWaq Kingdom’s third release for Phantom Limb, following the rapturously received album Essaka Hoisa in 2019 and follow-up EP Dokkoisho in 2020. The band recently performed at the label’s sold out 5th anniversary event in London, setting an ecstatic venue alight with energy.

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