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(69:34, Fazzul Music)
TRACK LIST: 1. Klabautermann 3:56 2. Bio Under Der Erdbeer 5:26 3. Grabbs 7:40 Musica Incidental Campesina: 4. Preludium 1:05 5. Interludium 1:36 6. Danza 1:18 7. Finale 1:32 8. Killmoulis 3:51 Micro Piezas: 9. Micro Pieza I 1:45 10. Zwispi 1:2 0:34 11. Micro Pieza II 1:55 12. Zwispi II 0:17 13. Micro Pieza III 1:31 14. Zwispi III 0:44 15. Micro Pieza IV 2:00 16. The Milk Sucking Tick 3:21 17. Pendule 2:28 18. Gluck Glotzt 6:24 19. Tanko 4:40 20. Pietro Pazzo 4:43 21. Baltimore Un Die Kurbisschmug 8:31 Bonus tracks: 22. Grabbs (Radio Edit) 3:55 23. Gluck Glatzt (Radio Edit) 3:18 LINEUP: Willi Riechsteiner guitars Beat Burkhard bass. stick R?my Strauli drums; keyboards; vocals With: Stefan Hugi saxophone Thomas Moser trombone
Prolusion. The Swiss band YOLK was formed in 1991 and throughout the decade its members were prolific creators and suppliers of advanced musical endeavors in their native Switzerland. In 1999 the band more or less disbanded, when permanent member Riechsteiner and prominent guest contributor Hugi decided to close this chapter of their musical history. The last recordings of the band from the same year seemed destined to be forgotten due to this, but thanks to a dedicated fan from Italy these were assembled and released as "Die Vierte" by the Swiss label Fazzul Music in 2003.
Analysis. Yolk seems to be one of those bands that really deserve a much deeper exploration than what a reviewer normally can provide in an attempt to detail their endeavors in a manner that really does them justice. As least if this production is representative of their output, partially due to the complex and sophisticated nature of the material at hand, but also due to the sheer diversity of this creation. In style were dealing with a band residing in the twilight zone between art rock and avant-garde music, spiced with forays into jazz and fusion. But also with individual efforts touching upon a more mainstream-oriented sound; the two examples of the genre in question easily identified on this album as versions edited for radio play of these efforts have been included on the CD as bonus tracks. The radio-friendly description should be taken with a grain of salt though, as the most mainstream-oriented of these, Gluck Glotzt, basically comes across as a twisted and slightly demented (in a good way) version of the UK act Madness. The bass and drums set up much of the foundation for these endeavors, the former catering for the basic melodic theme, and the later for momentum often in a jazz-influenced manner. A particular trait of this band is how the drums and bass are set up to craft arrhythmic sounding backbone in some select compositions, where an emphasis on the bass guitar slightly out of synch, with the drums creating some really odd sounding percussion effects. More enticing and intriguing than one might surmise from such a description, and most likely more complex as well. The interplay between the sax and the guitars is another facet of this band's output that warrants mentioning. The former soloing extensively, but often in a much more dampened variety than you might expect, harmonizing and supporting the guitar or bass line just as often as taking the lead. The latter instrument is used in a number of different sounding ways, but most commonly with dissonant or distorted riffs and soloing. Blues rock influenced motifs and more laid back wandering acoustic themes are some of the many variations supplied by this instrument, and Riechsteiner comes across as an instrumentalist with an extensive width and scope to his repertoire. But it's when the two instruments are closely interwoven that the magic bursts forth, best exemplified in the elongated mid-sequence of Baltimore Un Die Kurbisschmug. The stunning manner in which sax and guitar partially harmonize and partially take over for each other as the leading solo instrument are amongst the most intriguing interplays between these two instruments I have encountered so far, a stunning display of instrumental prowess set in an interesting and engaging musical context. Other than that, diversity within a challenging and adventurous context is what this album is all about. Quirky themes and instrumental performances nicely blended with melodic textures, most often performed by instrumentalists that all hold high pedigrees. The moods are as diverse as the songs, where uplifting sax-dominated passages blend effortlessly with dark, brooding guitar-dominated segments and gentler pieces of a more melancholic nature. Not always magical but only occasionally less than engaging, a high quality effort that presumably will be regarded as even better than that for those who truly love excursions of this nature.
Conclusion. This recovered treasure from the annals of the Swiss band Yolk should be a sure-fire winner and natural acquisition for most who appreciate music of a challenging and adventurous nature, as long as diversity suits their individual tastes and they don't mind the occasional foray into jazzier realms at times. Those who generally enjoy eclectic music bordering on avant-garde will most likely be somewhat of a key audience for this disc, and I suspect many aficionados of the latter category should find this an interesting experience as well.
OMB=Olav M Bjornsen: November 14, 2010
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