(For those who missed it the first time around and those who just didn’t like the color of the other version (red), this is for you. Shouts out to David Hampton and Justin Maheiny for saying something about this in the comments section on the other piece.)
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 youâ€™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 Iâ€™d never gotten around to truly looking in to them â€“ 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 â€“ The Handsome Fursâ€™ 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 Titanâ€™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 Titanâ€™s visual impression was nothing less than impressive.Â UZUÂ is their sophomore effort due out next week and â€śOneâ€ť is a kinetic soundscape that just goes all over the place. See what you think of â€śOneâ€ť below via the Soundcloud player. Cheers!
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 duoâ€™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 UZUâ€™s lead single â€śOneâ€ť. As the first YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN song to extend the songwriting credits beyond the core duo, â€śOneâ€ť 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 TITANâ€™s appropriations never sound forced. Rather, it sounds like a celebration of the cultural collision of Alaska and Rubyâ€™s upbringing. The hybridization is evident throughout UZUâ€”you can hear it in the operatic piano-and-vocal opener â€śAtlantaâ€ť segueing into the dynamic prog of â€śWhalesongâ€ť, the Eastern melodies seamlessly melding into the synth arpeggio and guitar dirge of â€śWindflowerâ€ť, the musical storytelling tradition of â€śSeasickness Pt. 1â€ť juxtaposing with the Heart-like classic rock gallop of â€śSeasickness Pt. 2â€ť, and the closing choir passage of â€śSaturnâ€™s Returnâ€ť descending into Merzbow-esque white noise. It is safe to say there is no other band like YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN on the planet. In a world that is increasingly homogenized, a record like UZU is all the more important for demonstrating how disparate cultural perspectives can merge into something entirely new while retaining their individual sovereign character.
The first pressing of this LP is limited to 500 copies on grey marble vinyl and comes with a free download code. All pre-orders include an 11x17 folded poster.
**PRE-ORDER** will ship on or around October 18, 2013
- Maybe Buy
- Not My Style
- Too Expensive