Thursday, December 11, 2008

Yellow Crystal Star & Redbird – Pre-eminent Dissolution of States of US [No Label]

Yellow Crystal Star hails from Portland, OR. Don’t know too much (read: anything) about Redbird though. This CD-r is the fruit of a collaborative recording session between the two way back in 2006.
The first track “Initiation” begins with a fervent hi-mid drone that sinks into bassier territory momentarily. There’s a lot of delay and fuzz here and also some really pretty movements as well. A relatively clean-toned guitar appears a little way in, giving the drones a focus point to creep around. Even a moderately violent feedback tantrum maintains the friendly haze about the piece. The next minutes bring on heavy, oozing drones and unintelligible vocals. Things sound like there are two guitars which you know I love, but it’s possible it’s guitar and effects/keyboard or something. There’s some loop/sample that sounds like factory machinery that crops up, and though it’s totally buried it still has a piercing effect. Underneath all the relentless murk there’s a really beautiful bit of guitar strumming, I think it’s just one chord but man, what a chord. The sound splinters and freaks, entropy-style, until an “attempt” at a nice outro melody goes awry and then eventually succeeds. I’m a little biased here cause I go crazy for all kinds of noisy guitar drone, but this is great shit. Great title too, I feel totally initiated after that fire bath.
If you thought the album title was convoluted, check this out. The CD-r case has 3 things on its track listing (numbered: 1, 2, 1. FYI) but the CD-r has 10 tracks. So anyway, I did some snoopwork (i.e. asked YCS) and how things work out is the second piece “Dissolve(wemadeit)” is actually spread over 8 tracks, 7 of them short tracks under the name “Dissolve” and then a longer track called “We Made It”. No idea, why I just went through that with you, but I did, so just deal man. The “Dissolve” tracks are all weird groans and cavernous loops with multi-tracked female vocals speaking no discernible sense whatsoever. If you guys set out to creep me the hell out, congratulations, you succeeded. Ambivalent feelings about all the dissolving, but “We Made It” is a real rad track. After a hollow, spacious intro there’s hardpanned guitar played alternating channels. The distant, reverbiness is retained but the guitar and more prominent vocalizing comes back. There’s a breakdown with a repeated guitar figure that seriously reminds me of the opening chords of “Take My Breath Away” but good. The piece rambles along on crunchy, rhythmic loops with electronics scribbling and vowel-like vocals drifting about. Two more “Dissolve” tracks come afterward, bringing the female vocals back over a ringing, repetitive loop that if listened to for too long could surely make someone go nuts. The epic 20 minute closer “Regressoftheegressofouregret” begins with clean guitar chords, resonating in their unadulterated loveliness. The track gradually builds in intensity piling on more and more layers of distorted, slashing guitar. The track is dynamic enough to maintain interest while still logically developing one idea, which over twenty minutes, is impressive enough. I think one of the keys is that the artists at work here are constantly supplying new melodic ideas throughout, so the track doesn’t collapse due to the same-drone-for-way-too-long syndrome that others sometimes do. Around three quarters in there’s a heavy, metal-influenced riff played with reckless abandon. I’m all for more of that. The last four minutes get a bit weird cause a skronk attack is interrupted with a real loud siren-esque loop, that cuts in and out a number of times for the remainder of the track with different recordings of guitar inserted in between. Some of the playing is pretty phenomenal, wish they had a bit more room to stretch out.
For those of you into molten guitar drone (there should be plenty of you) this disc would be a good one to add to your collection, especially since the two acts involved seem to be flying under the radar a little bit (my radar at least). The CD-r comes in a slim-line DVD case with two inserts. It's self-released so hit up the Yellow Crystal Star website if you’re interested.

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