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Yowie - Cryptooology CD (album) cover





3.23 | 20 ratings

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4 stars Rating: B

The phrase "off the wall" takes on a new meaning when applied to the modern band Yowie. They only have one release so far, the short (under thirty minutes total) Cryptooology, but what a release it is. As one review I read said, it almost feels like the zanier moments of Captain Beefheart played about a hundred times as fast. I'm not sure about the Beefheart connection, since this is nowhere near the free rock of the Captain (at least, not in spirit; there's no way this album could sound improvised), but if this album is anything, it is zany and fast. And, of course, it's also very good.

This is an album that will take a while to grow on you, however, as it has an emotional content level of zero, if not well into the negative range. It also has no hooks (or, if it does, they blow by you before you can recognize them). In short, this is an album that will, at least at first, alienate most listeners. Some have said that this album is pointless, and it's not hard to see why, as this album doesn't have much of a point, except to play really technical (and yet still fun) music at very high speeds.

What this ends up meaning for the album is that it sounds like pointless noodling the first few listens. I love the album now, but when I first heard it, I had two reactions. First, I wondered what just happened, and second, I wondered what the point of the album was (just like many others). After more careful listens, I have begun to understand what's going on (at least, most of the time), and I really like what I'm hearing.

The band is named after the Australian version of what you may know as the Yeti (there's another great American avant-garde band who does by the name Yeti), and their music reflects that (as does the cover art, which depicts an epic battle between two monsters). Yowie takes no prisoners. They are primal, brutal, but not unintelligent. In some sense, they are like the Nile crocodile (while we're on the subject of beasts), which is very intelligent - so intelligent, in fact, that it is capable of getting bored. In boredom, the crocodile will kill simply because it's something to do. So it with Yowie, in a sense. Out of boredom, they started tearing up their instruments, and Cryptooology is the result.

In these thirty minutes, Yowie rampage through about 100 minutes worth of ideas, every one of them worth hearing. In fact, the only part of this album that bothers me is the last section of it (which lasts about two minutes), where the band jump around a tad much for my taste. In this section, they lose the great continuity of the rest of the album. The rest of the album, however, nears perfection, at least for what it is. The drumming is simply (as if) divine, and the guitar, which is the other dominant instrument, also is amazing. There is a bit of a sense of sameness across the album, but this is not prominent enough to bother me, especially since the music is so complex that I'm too busy working out what's happening to bother with such a trivial matter (in fact, I might even go so far as to say that this sameness keeps the album within the range of being comprehensible at all).

This album is certainly not for everyone, but if you like Captain Beefheart, technical music, and fast (NOT loud) music, this may just be what you're looking for. Prepare for an intense experience, and don't expect to like it from the first listen. If you approach it with an open mind and genuinely appreciate avant-garde music, as well as what I listed at the start of this paragraph, this may become one of your favorite modern albums. It certainly has become one of mine.

Pnoom! | 4/5 |


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