Monday 10 October 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Yawning Man - “Historical Graffiti”

By: Victor Van Ommen

Album Type: Full Length
Date Released: 18/08/2016
Label: Lay Bare Recordings

“Historical Graffiti” is a drug that calms the soul of the listener”

“Historical Graffiti” DD//LP track listing:

1). The Wind Cries Edalyn
2). Her Phantom Finger of Copenhagen
3). Naomi Crayola
4). The Secret Language of Elephants
5). Historical Graffiti
The Review:

This new Yawning Man album, “Historical Graffiti,” has been a long time coming. The last we heard from Gary Arce (Guitar), Mario Lalli (Bass), and Bill Stinson (drums) was in 2010, when they released “Nomadic Pursuits.” That album continued the story that “Vista Point” and “Rock Formations” before it told; life out in the Southern Californian desert is trippy. This happens to be a story we don’t mind hearing time and time again.

Historical Graffiti” is in many ways a continuation to this story instead of a re-telling of it. That is to say that this album isn’t what we have come to expect from Yawning Man. Yes, the songs are still instrumental, orbiting around Arce’s fluid guitar creations by way of steady drumming and lush bass lines, but there’s more to the band this time. These five songs are excerpts from jams that Yawning Man did one late night in Buenos Aires with Sara Ryan, Adolfo Trepiana, and Malene Arce on the violin, bandaneon, and keyboard respectively.

At the album’s core, “Historical Graffiti” is still a Yawning Man album. But it’s the inclusion of these extra musicians – and instruments – that make the band sound freer than ever before. The songs are presumably based on free form jams and according the liner notes, all of the songs were recorded in one night, in one go.

The lazy drum and bass lead-in to the album’s opening track “The Wind Cries Edalyn” immediately sets the tone. Things will be low key this time around. The percussion won’t be hit too hard and the general tempo in the songs will be kept to that of a sunny Sunday afternoon by the swimming pool. Arce, Lalli, and Stinson lead the proceedings, all the while offering Ryan, Trepiana, and Malene plenty of room to dive in swim through the airwaves.

Space is given to each other and space is taken, and there’s not a single moment in which one of these band members feels overlooked. These are jams done by musicians who play with and into each other, feeding off of a desire to get acquainted on a musical level. The dreamy sway of each individual track is proof that these six musicians took their time and enjoyed identifying with each other on this level. After all, this collaboration might a one-off, so why rush things?

Each song is comfortable, like hanging in a tire swing and feeling the cool breeze to blow through your hair. Troubles are forgotten while these songs fade in and out of the jams they came from, calming the heart rate and allowing the mind to drift. There isn’t one song on here that feels rushed. Even in “Naomi Krayoli,” when the album’s groove gets kicked up a notch, there is no push and no finish line, just exploration of the mind and soul using music as a vessel to do so.

The addition of extra instruments wasn’t a necessary step for Yawning Man to take but the results of them taking it are sublime. By expanding their set up, Yawning Man has made an album brimming with spiritual jams that go a long way in helping the listener expand their mind. All of these extra elements and how they have been put to use add depth to the melodies, resulting in a drug that calms the soul of the listener.

“Historical Graffiti” is available here

Band info: facebook || bandcamp

FFO: Fatson Jetson, Desert Sessions, Ten East, Sons of Alpha Centauri