There are times when something so good comes along that you have to sit up and take notice. Welcome to Echoes of Yul’s debut album, a work of sprawling beauty that ebbs and flows like the tide and offers up so many treasures that it is hard to know where to begin.
First track, ‘Midget’, opens gracefully before ploughing headlong into the sort of stoner groove riff that Kyuss were proud to call their own, with bass-heavy guitars crushing down upon you. ‘From infinity to infinity’ manages to go one better by opening with a feedback encrusted riff so heavy it makes your spine compress. It’s only after two minutes you realise that EOY have achieved this without the aid of drums or vocals, which makes it all the more astonishing a feat. When the drums do appear they sound strange – as if disjointed from the music and wrapped in all sorts of odd effects – and they fit the music perfectly, never taking over from the guitars but augmenting them in a manner that is both twisted and strangely beautiful. As the music trudges to a halt amidst buzzing noise, it prepares the way for ‘clean’ a slab of pure rock with sampled vocals chattering away in the back ground and clattering mid-tempo drums keeping pace with the snarling guitars. Spacey effects snap through the ether keeping interest high, and it’s clear that EOY are onto something truly special. ‘Third time’ begins with horror-movie sounds and then guitars crawl over the noise creating a soundtrack to your nightmares in the manner of the excellent Axis of Perdition.
‘Or’ is a very different animal, relying on surging bass rather than hammering guitars, and utilising sampled noise looped over and over in the back ground to create layers of textured noise. ‘Walking skeletons’ returns to the groove of ‘midget’, with greasy guitars slithering over the drums and feedback to create a monstrous slab of sound. ‘Everyone’s midget’ is, perhaps, the heaviest thing on the album, utilising grinding guitars, twisted samples and a brutally slow tempo that wouldn’t be out of place on a Khanate album. It’s both exhausting and exhilarating and is perhaps the best single representation of a mercurial album that constantly skips just beyond your expectations when you think you have it nailed. ‘Square faces’ is ambient drone, ‘pony’ features a creepy sample repeating “I hate you daddy” over and over again, creating a brutal subtext that is too chilling to contemplate in any depth. ‘Ape’ sets mantra chants and screaming to a brutal industrial grind, ‘open’ is less claustrophobic, hinting at an almost nine inch nails-esque serenity with its fluid guitar work and ’32 (everything drifting)’ closes the album by introducing female vocals into their distressingly slow trudge towards the end. It’s just another example of the sonic curveballs Echoes Of Yul are capable of serving up, seemingly at will, and it leaves the listener desperate to hear more, preferably immediately and forever.
Throughout Echoes Of Yul’s astonishing album there are many reference points; NIN, Axis Of Perdition, Anathema, Swans, khanate and Pelican to name but a few, but the work here is more than that. Startlingly original, bold and possessed of a clear vision that is never obscured by the changing musical scenery, this is an album that opens up new heights for drone / sludge / doom music. The talent on display here from main-man Michal Sliwa is frightening and Echoes of Yul is without doubt one of the finest albums I’ve heard all year in any category. Easily purchased from the band’s myspace page this is a must-have album for anyone with a passing interest in experimental music.
Echoes Of Yul is available now from the band’s myspace page http://www.myspace.com/echoesofyul
You can read an interview with Michael Sliwa .