Cibo Matto Is Still Strange After All These Years

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Cibo Matto (Italian for "crazy food") has dedicated its career to writing an extraordinary amount of music about edibles and using a freewheeling sonic palette that dips into indie-pop, trip-hop, and punk pools.

"We never tried to sound like anything. We never thought about [sounding like anything] before, nor do we think about it today. But we are listening to a lot of stuff, including stuff from the '60s [and] the '70s to what's out right now, and they all are triggering inspiration. Then we try to come up with some interesting combination that you wouldn't think of," Honda says before rattling off so many influences from the '60s and '70s -- Pink Floyd, Joni Mitchell, Steely Dan, and the Beatles, among others -- that she leaves no clues to whom they fundamentally admire.

After a delightfully weird 1990s run that incorporated additional members (including Sean Lennon), the pair amicably broke up in 2002. Nine years later, Cibo Matto regrouped for a benefit concert for victims of the Tohoku earthquake in Japan and have remained afloat since.

Hotel Valentine, their third full-length and first since 1999's Stereo Type A, is a concept album loosely framed around a subject so odd and specific — namely, a love story involving a ghost that haunts a hotel — that this project feels like a profoundly Cibo Matto creation. The music, too, is as kinetic and brazen as ever, juxtaposing dives into experimental chaos with beautifully quiet moments.

Cibo Matto never entirely lets you into its world, but that elusiveness is part of its charm. "I've noticed a lot of people like to interview us and ask, 'What is the one thing that made you get back together?' or 'What is the one thing that you want to say with this album?' This is one thing that we don't do: think of this one thing. We like to think about a lot of things and express many things at once. We're not really into doing one thing. We're not into being either white or black," Honda says. "We just like 50 shades of gray."

Cibo Matto is scheduled to perform on Friday, February 21, at Crescent Ballroom

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Location Info

Crescent Ballroom

308 N. 2nd Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Music

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