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JULY 20, 1998: 

Buffalo Daughter

The Wyndam Guest Host D.C. hotel operator puts me on hold. Like most American hotel chains, Wyndam has its own original hold music. The cheesy track seems culled from a Russ Meyer flick, flushed, perhaps, through the Muzak toilet. The hold gods must know I'm waiting for SuGar Yoshinaga, badass guitar goddess from Japan's sample-mad funk monsters, Buffalo Daughter.

According to Yoshinaga, BD's current tour is "Quite cool," despite the fact that their main turntable man, MoOog Yamamoto, is not along for this leg.

"We usually play with four members, but this time we don't have MoOog, so now we have a lot of things to do on the stage than usual. Yumiko (Ohno, bass, electronics, vocals) does some sample things and I do some sample things."

SuGar and Yumiko both switch between keyboard electronics and guitar or bass through almost every song, and it's this role flipping that's the crux of BD, a head-on collision of lush, womb-warming analog rock tradition with sterile, metered digital blips and beats. Their predecessors include Bootsy Collins, Link Wray, John Cage, the Tom Tom Club, Brian Eno, Jimi Hendrix, and the kitchen sink.

"We like the rock & roll music as much as the techno music, so we just put them together. We want to play both at the same time."

Somehow, SuGar reconciles her two beasts onstage, mighty morphing from disciplined keyboard mathematician to stomping axe wielder mid-measure.

"The guitar is more like rock thing," she explains. "I hit the guitar strings hard. It's more like physical thing."

She laughs when I ask if she is considered a guitar goddess in Japan, "No I don't think so!!!" she guffaws, though she admits that there's really no one playing quite like she does. Still, she's hesitant to accept the title, and I imagine her blushing on the other end of the line.

"Sometimes Japanese audiences they are too polite. We are not even sure if they enjoy our set or not."

If BD's show this week is anything like the blitzkrieg they launched at this year's South by Southwest, when they get off the stage at Liberty Lunch this Wednesday night, there will be no misunderstanding. - Kate X Messer

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