Last year, around the time of the Polaris Music Prize Awards Show 2012, I can recall a lot of buzz and critical acclaim surrounding the distinctly titled Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. With my eyes on Twitter, and the trending hashtags, in between performance breaks (the cool thing about the Polaris Music Prize show, if you’ve never seen it, is that every artist nominated gets to perform a couple of songs) the band that many seemed to be pulling for to win the modest $30,000 cash prize was Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. Now, I had been seeing their name for a few months prior to the show but I’d never gotten around to truly looking in to them – all I knew was that they were from Montreal and they blended their Asian heritage in to their aesthetic. The Polaris show was a bit intriguing and there were three things that really stuck out to me – The Handsome Furs’ dissolution before the show leading to only Alexei Perry showing up, Grimes having a male stripper perform alongside her, and most of all, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s performance. It was thunderous and stark. Their use of theatrics was stunning from what I recall. Right after it, I could see why people wanted them to win. Now, Feist ended up winning the whole thing (to be honest, I was pulling for her to win) but Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s visual impression was nothing less than impressive. UZU is their sophomore effort due out next week and “One” is a kinetic soundscape that just goes all over the place. See what you think of “One” below via the Soundcloud player. Cheers!

The Details

With their sophomore effort UZU, Alaska and Ruby continue their exploration of cultural dualities. While YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN has always provided an outlet for the core duo’s celebration of their Asian heritage, the inclusion of auxiliary musicians and artists into the fold has reinforced one of the most crucial defining dualities of the group: the merging of diasporic and indigenous perspectives. This meeting of East and West is perhaps most visible in UZU’s lead single “One”. As the first YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN song to extend the songwriting credits beyond the core duo, “One” incorporates the indigenous upbringings of the extended group by leading off with a traditional Iroquois song. The introductory chant is a social song calling all people together, and is performed by people of the Mohawk tribe. From there, the band kicks into a driving guitar line and a vocal hook as sweet as any J-pop hit. Metal riffing, free-jazz cacophony, and meditative Eastern percussion patterns accentuate the song. In the hands of lesser visionaries, this kind of cross-pollination would sound like a schizophrenic genre mash-up. But YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN’s appropriations never sound forced. Rather, it sounds like a celebration of the cultural collision of Alaska and Ruby’s upbringing. The hybridization is evident throughout UZU--you can hear it in the operatic piano-and-vocal opener “Atalanta” segueing into the dynamic prog of “Whalesong”, the Eastern melodies seamlessly melding into the synth arpeggio and guitar dirge of “Windflower”, the musical storytelling tradition of “Seasickness Pt. 1” juxtaposing with the Heart-like classic rock gallop of “Seasickness Pt. 2”, and the closing choir passage of “Saturn’s Return” descending into Merzbow-esque white noise.


1. Atalanta

2. Whalesong

3. Lamia

4. Windflower

5. Hall of Mirrors

6. Seasickness Pt. 1

7. Seasickness Pt. 2

8. Bring Me The Hand Of Bloody Benzaiten

9. One

10. Saturn's Return

Thanks to Resident Juggalo Justin Maheiny for the tip!

Price $21.99

Thanks for rating this! Now tell the world how you feel via Twitter.
What Do You Think of This Release?
  • Buying!
  • Maybe Buy
  • Not My Style
  • Too Expensive