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Yojo - Yojo CD (album) cover

YOJO

Yojo

Jazz Rock/Fusion


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octopus-4
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team
4 stars It's some months that I have this album but because of personal constraints I have left it on my PC (it was a bandcamp's download) for all this time. It's a pity because I could have inserted it into the list for the PA album of the year. The band has a distinctive sound mainly due to trumpet and sax which contribute a lot in setting up a dark environment.

Look at the grey cover sleeve. If that picture can make you feel a sensation, it's the same sensatin that the music suggests. There are many differences, but the mood that trumpet and sax create is similar to the flugelhorn of Blade Runner Blues: a dark grey city under a plumbeous and oppressive sky.

The rest is jazz-fusion with slow tempo which reminds a bit to artists like Pat Metheny, Weather Report and, thanks to the trumpet, Mark Isham. Thinking better the opener "Skydiver" would remind clearly to Tibet if it wasn't for the percussion.

It's the kind of music that can make a rainy day enjoyable. My favorite track, not necessarily the best, is "Waltz" which is probably the darker.

Stronlgy suggested to all the listeners. Another great band from Mother Russia.

Report this review (#1126897)
Posted Tuesday, February 4, 2014 | Review Permalink
Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The first release by the as-yet undiscovered Russian quintet is similar to but different than their recent (and recommended) sophomore album "Abduction", but of course the band itself had a different line-up in 2013. The music here is more assertive, leaning harder on the fluid dynamics of Alexey Borovets' electric guitar work, and a solid, sometimes funky rhythm section.

But the album's primary draw is the ace trumpet playing of the band's other Alexey (Gorshkov), and rightly so. The trumpet has always been an undervalued asset in rock music, and Gorshkov's ice-smooth voicing was used to excellent effect, embellished by an expansive production giving the music its occasional Space Rock undertow (as in the well-named "Alien"). It definitely isn't Jazz Rock Fusion, despite the convenient labeling in these Archives.

The group in its first incarnation may have lacked the confidence and maturity of the band that would record "Abduction", a few years later. Notice how some otherwise superb instrumental workouts ("Aftermath" and "Rough Sleeper") are spoiled by the insecure padding of random sound bites, from the David Lynch film "Eraserhead" and a speech by Barack Obama. But as an early album by young musicians still finding their musical focus it's an impressive effort.

Yojo is a group deserving wider exposure outside their Saint Petersburg hometown. The band's first album should be the second choice for curious newcomers, but it's certainly worth a search.

Report this review (#1637357)
Posted Sunday, October 30, 2016 | Review Permalink
Modrigue
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Post-rock wearing the clothes of Jazz

A pterodactyl flying over a cloudy megalopolis... This surrealistic black and white cover picture suits the music very well: light and floating, classy and sober. YOJO's promising eponymous debut offers a fluent and clever mixture of post-rock atmospheres with cool jazz, plus a touch of heavy prog for the depressive mood. Instrumental, driven by the trumpet and supported by guitars, this hazy soundtrack well depicts impressions of loneliness and melancholy, the elegant way. Furthermore, the compositions are quite accessible and of constant quality.

The suave jazzy "Sundiver" is dark and enigmatic, like if you were wandering through a rainy city, looking at unknown faces. Then the track turns more dynamic. Beautiful! The mournful trumpet describes a desolated landscape all over the slow and changing "VHS", while the ethereal "Pterodactyl" is rather mystical with its raging and floating guitar. Magic! You'll be immersed into an ocean of despair hearing "Captain Kirk Had a Bad Day", and intrigued by a mysterious light through the smoky "Waltz"

Longest title of the album, "Alien" is also the strangest. From a spacey free-jazzy background, the music glows in the dark using changing rhythms and cool bass lines, reminding John Surman at times. Featuring a dialog from David Lynch's "Eraserhead", the gloomy "Aftermath" is quite pleasant, while the heavy progressive "Double Henry" is the rockiest passage of the disc. The ender, "Rough Sleeper", is divided in two sections. The first half is an atmospheric hazy ballad including samples from the monologue "How Should I Live, Angels?", written and narrated by Russian writer Mikhail Zhvanetsky. The second half turns more towards free jazz and contains this time a speech by Barack Obama. Enjoyable but too long and a little dissonant for my tastes.

YOJO's first effort is very convincing and promising. This elegant and clever arrangement of post-rock and heavy prog with jazz is really original and inventive. The perfect soundtrack for a lonely rainy day, looking down at the city and its swarming interlaced lives through the window, wondering, observing, feeling like a stranger who doesn't fit in... Finally, like the pterodactyl on the cover art...

A band to keep an eye on, very recommended to modern jazzscapes fans!

Report this review (#1693329)
Posted Thursday, February 16, 2017 | Review Permalink

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