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Yowie - Synchromysticism CD (album) cover

SYNCHROMYSTICISM

Yowie

RIO/Avant-Prog


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Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Synchromysticism' - Yowie (83/100)

Say you meet a pretty girl on the promenade. The two of you establish a pleasant rapport. Maybe you go for drinks and dinner; you order the burger with extra cheese. She orders the salad.

After seeing a critically acclaimed film at the Cineplex and a moderately overpriced cab ride, you arrive back at your place. You open a bottle of wine and turn to your music collection. Fumbling over your records you accidentally put on an album by Yowie. You snuggle up on the couch together and listen to your advance promo copy of Synchromysticism. If she doesn't get up or vomit during the album, you may want to consider a relationship. If she says she likes it, you can arrange a wedding ceremony and skip the prenup. Yowie is one of the most extreme listens I've ever heard in the span of rock music. For the right people, they can create some of the most eldritch grooves imaginable. To the unintiated, this is probably the ugliest [%*!#]ing thing since moldy bread.

I have loved Yowie's work at least since Damning with Faint Praise dropped in 2012. The album hinted at a math rock Hell to which harmony was an alien concept. The debut Cryptooology from 8 years prior showed much of the same dissonantly playful chaos. While I'm glad that I had the precursive context of Yowie as a cushion going into Synchromysticism, I don't think it could ever make listening to this band a wholesome, comfortable experience. By their very nature, Yowie aim to lurk from the shadows. I'm sure even the greatest normie among us could recognize the talent in their controlled rhythms and technique, but it takes something more than that to appreciate the end result.

To naked ears, every Yowie album is ugly. Their work is comprised of semi-clean guitars clashing against Frippian bass and free jazz drum kinetics. I couldn't describe their debut much differently than this latest album. It just so happens that Synchromysticism does it better than either the albums that preceded it. Damning with Faint Praise may have nailed the production compared to the debut but Yowie's third finally sounds like they have pinpointed their most promising aspects, namely the chaotic band interplay and dissonant grooves. The most rose-tinted harmonist wouldn't be able to peek a single melody here; if you're in the right mood for it you won't care. Yowie blast away with all the rupture and confidence of a masterclass free jazz band. Although they're fairly clean-sounding (at least from a tonal perspective) Yowie's share at least a partial kinship with dissonant, chaotic powerhouses in the extreme metal scene, namely Deathspell Omega and Jute Gyte. Even if the metal elements aren't necessarily shared (at least on the surface) the extremity is matched in full, byte for byte.

In the years since Damning with Faint Praise, I wouldn't say Yowie have changed up their style sufficiently to note upon. The musicianship was always incredible, and it's not like they had harmonies left to shed on the last album. Even so, there's a significant sense of progress Yowie have churned out on Synchromysticism. The production and musicianship are both noticeably more fluent. While it's hard to discuss their work in more conventional terms of structure and songwriting, Synchromysticism taps into thicker grooves and more vibrant dynamics. When a band like this has such a compelling, unique approach to begin with, sometimes all they need is a subtle tune-up to keep it feeling fresh. Synchromysticism sounds every bit as cutting-edge and relevant as Yowie were when they started out. I don't see any reason why that will stop any time soon; maybe until the rest of the world catches up with their madness.

Originally written for Heathen Harvest Periodical.

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Posted Monday, February 27, 2017 | Review Permalink

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