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Sean Trane
Prog Folk
2 stars Another one of these incredibly and uselessly complicated "RIO", destructuring, deconstructing, destroying, dismantling, scattering, blowing to pieces senselessly their music (that seems rather easy) but yet seeming unable to reconstruct it in any valid form (which is obviously not as easy) for the listeners. I will not try to judge (let alone understand) too hard what Yowie's concept of music: this is way beyond the boundaries of my patience and my taste for adventurous music. Whether Yowie heard what The Flying Luttenbacher or Hella is unknown to me, but their musical diarrhea has much the same effect to this writer's poor tolerance for extra-obtuse music. No doubt the artist in this group or in TFL spent much time and effort in their artistic research, and it must be frustrating for them to see it all wasted on such a feeble mind as mine.

Let's just say that I didn't get Yowie's intended goal and lack total interest in trying to find out. In the meantime, my loyal readership is warned.

Report this review (#118503)
Posted Monday, April 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars This is utter chaos, it takes math rock up to a whole new level, it's almost impenetrable cacophanous noise - make no mistake this is certainly not for the faint of heart or the weak of will, there is barely a tangible riff or recurring sequence to hold on to and when one does come along it get's quickly obliterrated by jazz blasting and discordant mess.

I actually quite enjoy this album to be honest, I find it hilarious, it's so silly, I just picture a bunch of nerdy math rock fans who became good at their instruments (the drumming is actually really good if you listen well) with severe ADHD cranking out this monstosity in their garage and then I look at the cover with a yowie beast battling some kind of pteradactyl like fiend to the death, the music almost invokes the same kind of aesthetic from the cartoon show 'rocko's modern life' from my childhood only perverted beyond recognition.

I don't really know what I think of this album to be honest, it is certainly a joke and to me it's a funny one, it's very hard to recommend this though, I can only stomach a few tracks a week - it's tougher to digest than a lot of grindcore and brutal detah metal but when I'm in the mood for utter chaos and silliness it suits perfectly.

You know what I'm going to give this 4 stars, it's extremely ambitious and it does entertain if you are open to it and that's all you could really ask of it. I'd recommend this only to the very adventurous and open minded.

Report this review (#119467)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
4 stars Warning aquired taste.

Thtas pretty much what should have been on the fron tcover of this album. Its Sparatic Math rock, broken guitar sounding Avant Garde music is one to scare, and....annoy possibly. Personally if you are a fan of Math Rock and just plain outright wakyness in instrument playing...this IS the album. They cetrainly do an excellent job in uphoalding the odd quirky view of Avant Garde. You like crazy...we got it. 4 stars

Report this review (#127842)
Posted Sunday, July 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#163498)
Posted Saturday, March 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars When I first heard this record, It came in my mind at once, perfectly clear, the meaning of it all.

This guys took Killing Time by Massacre (Fred Frith, Bill Laswell and Fred Maher) - especially the amazing Legs, a masterpiece deconstruction of the skeleton of rock'n'roll - and expanded in every direction the concept. In the incipit of Tenesha You can even have the impression to hear the damper trumpet opening Surfing, but it's just another wizard trick by the guitars.

It's pure mindboggling the nake results: I mean, You can't really sit by to the (apparent) sonic mayehm. But the superficial approach is rapidly overhelmed by how they manage this reconstruction. Nothing is random here. It's not mathcore... but math is the basis of all this musical object. The more You listen, the more You get it.

It's impossible to describe the single parts of this record, as You can't glean a single element from the body of this work, which have sense in its integrity, and, Yes, have sense only if You accept all the ear-torture entirely. The strenght of this record is his unconfortability. But as latin said Per Aspera ad Astra, meaning You have to suffer to reach Your aim. This record is suffer for real, but there's a aim and there will be a reward for who will resist.

Trying to give some reference for who wants to understand what kind of record is this, I can say it's a continuous duel between a couple of guitar. On Skin Graft website they call it sonic Kung Fu: a perfect definition! They recall Arto Lindsay's work on first record of Lounge Lizards: 1000 times more technical but with the same impression they substituted the normal guitar strings with 6 rubber bands. The music is in fact kind of elastic, continuosly bouncing from note to note. The drummer never plays the same rhythm for more than 1 or 2 seconds, he acts as a third instrument while he manage to keep a spastic, frenzy monster polythythm, in a manner very similar to Ari, drummer in Cause for Effect.

I pondered a lot before giving five stars, but I think that a radical and so maniacally compulsive event like this album deserves it. This is, in my opinion, a product who belongs to the class of Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica, or Red Krayola's Parable of Arable Land, or US Maple's Talker: records who pushed the music out of even the most daring paradigms, and as a true lover of any progressive expression I consider this is the first mission of the genre. This is a point of no return, and I'm so displeased for people who are too mainstream-minded (the famous WalMart-Proggers) to appreciate this astonishingly lucid Masterpiece.

Report this review (#182777)
Posted Thursday, September 18, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Cryptooology" is the debut full-length studio album by US, St. Louis, Missouri based experimental rock act Yowie. The album was released through Skin Graft Records in 2004. Yowie formed in 2000 and after signing to Skin Graft Records in 2001 spend the next 3 years writing the material for "Cryptooology".

Therefore it may baffle some listeners that "Cryptooology" only features 29:57 minutes of music, but the 7 tracks on the album are of the kind that features so many different parts, rhythm changes, time signatures, and just unconventional compositional structures and playing, that 29:57 minutes are probably more than enough for most listeners.

Yowie is an instrumental power trio featuring two guitarists and a drummer. Their music is deliberately composed without any form of recognisable melody and the song structures are hard to follow. This is totally over the top and dissonant instrumental math rock/avant garde rock with rhythm/time signature changes every second and a total disregard for hooks of any kind ( at least to these ears). I think of bands like Collapsar and Dysrhythmia but itīs important that I emphasize that those bands after all have recognisable elements in their crazy musical exploits while Yowie seem to search for the ultimative dissonant and complex version of the genre.

All seven tracks on the album have female names (starting with T) as titles but Iīm not sure I would be flattered if I was a woman and someone named one of these weird sounding songs after me (or maybe Iīm getting this wrong, and "Cryptooology" is actually an ode to the complexity of women...hmm thereīs a thought). When all these rather negative opinions and descriptions of the bandīs music have been said, there is some twisted and perverted part of me that takes some kind of pleasure in "Cryptooology" and it is hard not at least to some degree to acknowledge the outstanding musicianship, the visionary approach to songwriting, and the adventurous choice of notes. This is in other words very much an aquired taste but Iīm sure that thereīs an audience for this kind of music out there (albeit a very small one).

The production is a bit garage low-fi sounding but it suits the music well. Upon conclusion "Cryptooology" is an interesting album from a musicianīs perspective as your ears are challenged with unorthodox playing, choice of notes, and unconventional song structures, but to my ears this sounds more like a crazy sonic experiement than any cohesive form of musical expression, and I think very few people would listen to this the way most people listen to music for hooks or anything resembling memorability. So points for creativity, but no points for trying to write music that few outside the band would probably enjoy (yeah I know Iīm pressuming a lot, but I stand by my point that not many people will find listening pleasure here, if they arenīt a musicians themselves looking for a challenge). A 2 star (40%) rating.

Report this review (#211637)
Posted Saturday, April 18, 2009 | Review Permalink
4 stars (This is my first review, and this is one of the most underrated albums I've ever heard, that also happens to be on this site, so forgive the slightly long review, this album deserves a crowd on its side).

4 stars. If you have the energy and focus to give to this kind of music, it will likely be one of the most rewarding albums in your collection. If you don't, it will probably get less than one total play on your stereo, which is saying a lot, seeing as this album is only half an hour long. So what kind of music is it?

The music on Cryptooology is overly complex, fractured, spring-cannon, dead pan instrumental math rock. Seeing as 'complex' is a word that gets thrown around a lot, I feel I should emphasize it here. I have a hard time finding anything to compare it to, but I can say that memorizing (I've listened to this album at least once a week for 4 years now, it happens) every song on this 30 minute voyage has done nothing to make this music boring, however it has ruined my taste for anything but the most over the top avant- metal, and in fact most any 'lazy' complexity that I used to greatly enjoy. There is absolutely no breathing room at all on this album (save maybe the last 2 minutes). Easily the most complex music I've ever heard. However, it is rewarding in that it is 'dead pan', clean, and (mostly) precise.

Whereas some math rock artists (Tera Melos and Zach Hill come to mind) like to simply bathe and saturate the music in effects and overdubs, and bury substance beneath murky layers, Yowie seems to have a phobia of any obscuring at all, beyond the compositional. There are no bizarre tape tricks, no distortion, no time shifting, no sonically-destroyed vocals, or anything of that sort. The fact that these three guys simply perform this music, and do nothing to make it more 'difficult' beyond the structural aspects of the songwriting is really what draws me to praise this album. There are some math rock bands that just end up sounding like an execution of a lifeless composition, however, and they seem to avoid this also...

After endless extensive exploration of this album, I can say with certainty that this isn't lifeless and cold music, something which tends to plague the majority of 'normal' math rock bands out there. Like Ahleuchatistas, Yowie seem to play with absurdist humor, which is refreshing, after a long slew of 'dark', depressing math rock albums in my teenage days. The absolutely ridiculous spring- factory-on-fire atmosphere of this music prohibits me (and a few of my friends) from not at least slightly dancing while it's playing. Yes, it's possible to dance to this music, actually it's extremely fun, given that you have some grasp of the songs and don't have any problem thrashing yourself around, pounding on whatever objects are around you, and trust me, that's exactly the kind of dancing this music lends itself to.

I've seen countless people completely write off this album, and it's understandable. I think that this kind of music really asks too much from most people. However, if you're like me, and seem to get bored with even the music touted as 'complex' on PA (which isn't necessarily bad music...), this may be exactly what you need. I remember spending at least a week with this album before I could even distinguish songs, and even then based only on the first few seconds. After about 200 listens, I had a couple songs down in my head, and another 500 or so later, I'm still hearing new things.

Give this album a chance, really. The amount of content and substance and value in these 30 minutes easily surpasses a good number of bands entire discography, you just have to be willing to search for, and find it.

There are a few moments on this album I feel could be treated as highlights, and I feel I should mention them. The first is the end of the first track, 'Trina'. Playing an absolutely dizzying ON/OFF riff with seemingly no pattern at all, why not double the speed and play it again? Then what? Double the speed again! This part was one the last things I memorized. The last 1/3rd of the third track "Tara", featuring one of the most grabbing tempo/mood changes on the album, a sudden drop out of the fractured speed-bonk style into a short, almost funky slow paced riff, for about 7 seconds, then out again, and into another dizzying and needlessly complex (in a good way) ON/OFF hit riff. The 5th track, 'Toni', features what is probably the longest repeated 'riff' on the album during the second half, an almost-descending interlocking near-tonal pattern, making this track the most 'accessible', in spite of the start.

(Oh, and hey, if the music is too much for you at the speed its recorded, trying playing it at 50% speed for a real treat.)

IN CONCLUSION: Despite how it may seem at first, Yowie aren't out to get one over on you. In fact, they aren't out for anything at all! Get this one, give it some time, and then decide, as any first impressions will be useless. Four stars, an excellent addition, if only for novelty.

Report this review (#300037)
Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2010 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Cryptooology' - Yowie (6/10)

Yowie offer me an interesting opportunity, as a listener and critic alike. While most artists and albums will tend to strike me one way or the other, these math rock partisans have concocted something that continues to leave me baffled. First impressions and conventional music standards might deem the dissonant, unfurnished sound repulsive, but upon closer inspection, there's a brilliance and calculation to Yowie that may elude all but the more persistent listeners. With that in mind, for all of the praise I may give Yowie and "Cryptooology", any recommendation should come with a warning: this is not a musical taste for the faint of heart or easily unimpressed. Love or hatred of their perpetual dissonance and chaotic form regardless, there is method and meticulous thought behind this breakdown of rock tradition, and that alone should make it a worthy venture for the more adventurous listeners out there.

If some of the other things written about it in the past are any indicator, "Cryptooology" has become something of a bogeyman in the rock underground, with many of the album's greatest supporters still openly admitting to the challenge the music presents. More impressive still is that Yowie have been able to spark this controversy with nothing more than the accepted 'minimum' for rock music: two guitars and a drumkit. There's not a single audible effect or particularly colourful guitar tone used here; the drums and clean electric twang sound as if the instruments have been spared a moment's tweaking or embellishment. Many musicians would never seek to ascend to such heights of strangeness without a hint of effects, and it's that deviation from the norm that partly earns Yowie such uniqueness to their sound and style.

Of course, the hard part comes with describing Yowie's approach to composition itself, which does not lend itself too well to traditional analysis. Although there is a noted repetition of some ideas, the flood of dissonant chords, furiously calculated drum bursts and creeping harmonics tends to flow at a similar pace throughout the album, robbing the tracks of any perceivable uniqueness from one another. Most of the time, one guitar will provide a barrage of ugly chords while the other adds a more varied sense of twang and eerie sonic experimentation, the likes of which I might only liken to the way rain might sound hitting a windowpane in the middle of a chthonic nightmare. At the end of the day, Defenestrator's drumwork is left to hold it all together. While the constantly shifting rhythmic pattern seems to lay down a framework for the other instruments to explore at will, even the drums are immensely unforgiving to the inattentive listener. There are times here when the drums sound like they're presenting a warped rendition of jazz, and others where the calculated oppression reminds me of death metal.

Somewhat contrary to the greater focus of its successor "Damning With Faint Praise", "Cryptooology" finds Yowie at a time where they may be too chaotic for their own good. I'll take a good musical challenge any day over something tried and true, but this album doesn't get much easier with experience. In spite of the evident precision and predetermined nature of this supposed chaos, it's difficult to pick out any idea on its own. "Cryptooology" flows as one a single primordial entity, swirling and consuming all in its path. While it's bound to leave a strong first impression (whether it's a good or bad impression is up to the listener) but the album sorely feels the lack of dynamic. Even the most challenging outsider art should offer some respite along the way; otherwise, listeners become desensitized somewhere along the way. Yowie's style is plainly weird and challenging enough to keep a listener engaged far longer than its brief half-hour spin, but I can't help but feel that the album might have benefitted from a respite somewhere along the way. Past that, it's up for each individual listener to decide for themselves. One thing's for certain, however: do not expect to be underwhelmed.

Report this review (#993687)
Posted Tuesday, July 9, 2013 | Review Permalink

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