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Yugen - Iridule CD (album) cover





3.91 | 131 ratings

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5 stars With this album, Yugen managed to storm my senses and take me completely by surprise. Before hearing a track from it, I was only marginally familiar with the band. I had listened to portions of the streaming track here at PA from their debut, but wasn't ever overly impressed enough to check out the album. I realize now what a mistake I made not checking them out then, if that album is anywhere near as good as this one is.

Iridule is...complex, dissonant, intense, otherworldly, dark, occasionally matter what the particular mood of a piece happens to be though, it's easily one of the best albums I've heard in a long time. I wouldn't hesitate to place it up with my favorite albums by Magma, Cardiacs, Ruins, Can, etc. The group doesn't sound very similar to any of those groups though - the closest bands sound-wise would be Henry Cow and Univers Zero, as far as I can tell. According to the PA interview composed by Torodd with Francesco Zago and Marcello Marinone, "In Iridule, Ligeti, Nancarrow and Xenakis are the most important references." This interview can be found on the forums if you're interested in reading the whole thing. I'm not very familiar with Nancarrow and only marginally familiar with Xenakis, but I can hear definite shades of Ligeti in some of the pieces. The group integrates the sounds and styles of these composers seamlessly into their own brand of music, though. As far as instrumentation goes, a quick glance at the lineup above will let you know that they threw everything in except the kitchen sink. Sometimes such a large lineup of instruments can play against a group, but on this album it works perfectly. The wide range of sounds creates such interesting musical textures. Several guest musicians play on the album, and the most well known of them are probably Dave Kerman (5UU's, U Totem, Thinking Plague, sometime drummer for Present, etc) and Guy Segers (founding member/bassist from Univers Zero). Each of them contribute to at least one song, and they both do a wonderful job. The real standout for me though, and my favorite discovery from the group, is Elaine di Falco. The first time I listened to the album, her vocals really blew me away, and they continue to do so. The overlapping vocals are incredibly beautiful, even when they're dissonant on some of the songs (Scribbled especially comes to mind for dissonance). Most of the time, Elaine's vocals are untouched by any effects apart from layering, but on Scribbled voice and machine are combined to allow for vocal melodies which would be next to impossible with the naked human voice. That track is one where I noticed the Ligeti influence most by the way, thanks to the atonality of the vocal passages. Along with the vocal pieces, I definitely need to mention the closer, Cloudscape. That track was my introduction to the album, and it's a beautiful end to a complex, chaotic and ultimately mindbogglingly amazing album. It's also the closest to a "normal" track on the album, and I could see it being enjoyed by a much wider variety of people than the album as a whole.

I can't stress enough the musical ability of the musicians on this album. The variety of styles, instruments and sounds explored over the course of 49 minutes is really stunning. This album is without a doubt my favorite of 2010, and could possibly unseat my earlier favorites of the decade. This group is definitely on my short list of chamber/avant rock to watch, because I have a feeling they'll soon be one of the legends of the styles along with Univers Zero, Present, Henry Cow and others. I would be cheating both myself and the group if I gave this anything less than five stars, earned very ably.

SaltyJon | 5/5 |


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