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Yugen - Labirinto d'Acqua CD (album) cover

LABIRINTO D'ACQUA

Yugen

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.02 | 64 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
5 stars While the Rock In Opposition movement in the 70s introduced a new way of turning the rock paradigm completely upside down with totally off-the-wall and over-the-top methods of musical deconstruction, the alienating effect of a splinter of avant-prog chamber rock as introduced by bands like Univers Zero and Henry Cow hasn't exactly trickled out into households across the world but rather created an invitation for an avant-prog playground where the musically addicted can strut their technical prowess and twist and contort their musical inhibitions into bizarre new musical creatures that create dense and mythical beasts that exist in their own universe. Italy's YUGEN got the avant-prog memo that shouts with glee "I AM WEIRD AND HEAR ME NOW!" This Milan based group of mischief seeking musicians fronted by guitarist Francesco Zago really went for it on their debut LABIRINTO D'ACQUA (Labyrinth of Water) and lives up to its enchanting title with intense musical gymnastics performed in a never-ending labyrinth of fluid dynamics. The results is one of the most adventurous little musical journeys that the prog universe has to offer!

Despite the weirdness in full display, YUGEN didn't arise out of a vacuum but took plenty of cues from the greats of the old school prog ilk. While firmly placed in the dissonant and square root of a negative number type of melodic development as experienced by avant-proggers Henry Cow on "Unrest," YUGEN also implement the full band spectrum workout of a full forced chamber rock band in the footsteps of Univers Zero and Art Zoyd. While the guitarist may be the main man of the group, guitars are not the primary focus but rather the main vibe is a healthy parade of convoluted piano, mellotron and moog dynamics accompanied by a thick heavy bass with an army of lesser utilized rock instrumentation such as mandolin, flute, vibraphone, marimba, glockenspiel, violin, cembalo, percussion, shakuhachi, theremin, bass clarinet, tubax (?), sax, bass flute, taragot, regular clarinet and oh yeah, drums! OMG. With a cast membership fo 14 musicians on display, the layered leapfrogging polyrhythms of opposing counterpoints is startling and thrilling simultaneously like watching a slasher flick while riding a multi-looping roller coaster during an electrical storm. This is music for the sonic junkies where every track provides the adequate adrenaline fueled fix.

While the music has the alienation of Art Zoyd on an adventurous day, the tracks actually vary quite a bit with ominous spaced out chamber music such as "Quando La Morte Mi Coise New Sonno" to extreme bombast with Zappa meets Area flavored jazz-flavored workouts in the form of "Catacresi5" all dressed up with a Keith Emerson type of early ELP bombast. While proving they have the chops to beat their chests with the best of the big boy technical wizards, it ultimately boils down to the complex sophistication of the compositions that somehow mystically bend classical and jazz polyrhythms and counterpoints into submission ultimately finding a happy medium. And if you haven't guessed, this is quite the adventurous undertaking. However, despite this massive flow of musical greatness, somehow it all unfolds quite organically however more like some super mystery fungus on another planet far away from Earth's gravitational influence. While avant-prog has been popular in the underground for quite some time now, nobody pulls it off with such grace and technical wizardry as does YUGEN, whose admitted sole purpose was to create musical complexity for its own sake.

While such a lofty claim seems more of a recipe for ego-inflated disaster than a prescription for a sonic ear massage, YUGEN succeeds in achieving an almost undeliverable acrobatic feat of speed and precision cranked out into free flowing yet comprehensively logical tracks that differ from another yet connect like a fine-tuned protocol using blockchain technology. The music is brilliant and dynamic and never allows the listener to be distracted by pointless noodling sessions that meander into infinity but on the contrary keeps the listener's interest peaked as the bizarre and sometimes abnormally odd rhythmic pulses jitter and zigzag like fireworks shooting off angularly in quantum-based vectors of space-time. YUGEN is truly a band that must be experienced to comprehend since no other band can match its feisty avant-prowess since they have not only mastered the ultimate art of fusion but the wizardry of haphazard virtuosic delivery as well. This is my kind of music for those days when only the most weird and complex will do.

4.5 but rounded UP^

siLLy puPPy | 5/5 |

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