YOKO PWNO – Part Machine (Skye Records SRCDX010)

Part MachineYoko Pwno released Part Machine on April 1st. This is the band’s second album following 2019’s Artefacts and they’ve added a couple more members on flute and tenor banjo to the fiddles, synths, percussion and guitar of their earlier work.

Have you ever wondered what it might be like if you got a time machine and brought Robert Johnson to an Eric Clapton concert so he could see ‘Crossroads’ being played with a fully electric band to a stadium with tens of thousands of people? I raise this because Yoko Pwno are doing something very inspiring; if you have any interest in the lineage of folk music at all you should listen to this album.  The band plays a fusion of folk and what I can only describe as modern (i.e. 2020’s) music. Just as folk-rock was developed in the latter half of the 1960’s, what Yoko Pwno do is somewhere in the early years of what I might call folk-rave or folk-dance, with all the energy those titles suggest.

I’m told there were folk clubs in the late 50s and 60s where, if you brought an instrument it was frowned upon. Similarly, a few years later, (in the words Loudon Wainwright used of Bob Dylan going electric), man, everything changed – though many clubs and pubs, the bedrock of folk music, didn’t have appropriate electrical or sound engineering facilities until a decade later.

Let’s come closer to the present. I remember being intrigued when I first heard Jim Moray and Pete Morton, in their very different styles, experimenting with … shall we call it folk rap? Even more recently, I watched CoCo And The Butterfields not noticing that there was no drummer on stage until my daughter pointed out to me that the band had a beatboxer.

The world moves on.

Yoko Pwno, then, are doing something really fascinating and enjoyable. Entwined into the traditions of Scottish folk music, (the very traditions brought by Yoko Pwno’s fiddle, flute, banjo, and guitar) are the synths and percussion that bring Scottish folk-music to a new route.

To repeat …. if you have any interest in the lineage of folk music give this listen.

Mike Wistow

Artist’s website: https://www.facebook.com/yokopwno

‘Horace’s’ – official live video: