D. Yellow Swans "Drift"
Another splurging review about the daunting, morphing duo of Pete Swanson and Gabriel Mindel Saloman won?t do squat to sway the hefty crowd still mulling about the validity of ?noise? and ?drone? music. When so many review blurbs seems to be regurgitating the same hyperbole and adjective-drenched prose, what could make a Yellow Swans release different from the scores of others? Shit?s still noisy and drony ain?t it?
This message is for those uneasy folk. Though it may seem each CD-R dropping is less distinguishable than the last, these here Yellow Swans hover above their prolific peers. Since 2003?s ?Bring the Neon War Home,? the band has warped and tweaked its musical approach, following no linear progression, but still varying their use of electronic and hand-crafted sounds on nearly every release. Skeptics, these guys deserve your ears. Even during less rhythmic efforts ? including this year?s ?Drift? ? these guys exude a heavy, primal, variegated sound that might just convince you to raid the catalogues of Fusetron or Volcanic Tongue for early crayon-art-covered cassette releases.
On ?Drift,? the Yellow Swans have gone subterranean, submerged in fuzz and followed by haunting SONAR blips. The rhythmic lashings that were the focus of their last major release, ?Psychic Secession,? have been dampened except for rare flashbacks. Doesn?t that make them boring? Stripping away some of their heaviest elements, the band is left with a skeleton of low end that they develop mesmerizingly over ?Drift.? Periods of relative calm never run astray from a wave of feedback or a poignant pluck. While it?s not as exciting as earlier releases, it?s definitely the most refined release I?ve heard from the band. A masterful control of loudness and sound clarity makes ?Drift? a welcome, and unusual, studio-grade production. This doesn?t mean the Yellow Swans have engineered a sine wave masterwork ? la LaMonte Young, but for a band whose live performances can be likened to aural ballistics, it?s a high complement toward their ingenuity.
?Drift? concludes with a psychic-energy drain that?ll leave your mind and body numb after the final crescendo of cool white noise. Critical attempts to reify the feel of listening to this track are bunk. Find a comfy chair and let loose. (I?d warn against listening during physical activity, so to save you from an uncontrollable flop to the floor.) Few releases ever reach this kind of physically evocative level, which makes ?Drift? one of my favorite releases this year. 9/10 -- Andrew Meehan (10 July, 2006)