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Jazz Rock/Fusion • Russia

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YOJO is an instrumental quintet from St. Petersburg formed in 2011. Their self-titled debut released in 2013 is recommended to fans of jazz rock as well as moody post rock accompanied by a jazzy trumpet, violin and saxophone.

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Yojo, 19 by YojoYojo, 19 by Yojo
Audio CD$242.90
Yojo, 15 Piano by Yojo (2013-02-26)Yojo, 15 Piano by Yojo (2013-02-26)
Audio CD$59.74
Yojo, 17 pianoYojo, 17 piano
TYXArt 2013
Audio CD$13.14
$7.80 (used)
Yojo, 15 PianoYojo, 15 Piano
TYXArt 2013
Audio CD$9.54
$6.38 (used)
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YOJO discography

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3.71 | 8 ratings
3.82 | 7 ratings

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YOJO Reviews

Showing last 10 reviews only
 Abduction by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.82 | 7 ratings

Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Modrigue
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Elegance and melancholy embracing post-jazz

Second effort by Russian instrumental quintet YOJO, "Abduction" develops the classy and smoky ambiance depicted in the band's first opus, however with a few evolutions. Still displaying impressions of desolation and sadness, the music becomes softer, less oppressive, more jazz-oriented. The orchestration is reinforced by the presence of five invited wind instrumentalists. The guitars are less present and aggressive, resulting in a smoother listening experience than on the band's eponymous debut.

Once again, the surrealistic cover art - this time reminding René Magritte - faithfully transcribes the album's content. The compositions offer a sensation of something vanishing, an evanescent humanity in the modern crowded world, like if people were feeling more and more stranger to each other...

The opener is contradictory reference to the famous 70's fusion band. "Weather Report" is not funky, but rather a nice fusion/jazz title, soothing and mesmerizing instead. The cool "Contact" is quite somber and depressive, whereas the delicate "5 A.M." reveals bright moments of hope immersed in an enigmatic atmosphere. Our journey through the mysterious haze continues with "Cold Case", a soft heavy prog track, and the interrogative touching "Wipers", full of melancholy.

The "Tourist" from this record can only wander into a desolated land, maybe populated in appearance, but empty in essence. Driven by trumpet, this sad and soft waltz is pleasant, although a bit lengthy. The relaxing "Swell" displays rather strange obscure lights progressively increasing in intensity, until a free-jazz explosion. Back to depression with the nostalgic "Jump in the Mirror", evoking alternatively an once familiar but now torn environment, the mirror being the transition bridge. The emotional trip ends with the longest track of the disc, "Hazebook". Certainly a pun referring the well-known social network, these 7 minutes of sorrow are calm, sensitive, nearly aquatic. Is nowadays' ocean of over-connectivity just made of individual drops of loneliness? Perhaps...

More accessible than their first opus, "Abduction" offers a clever and suave revisit of post-rock / heavy-prog through jazz's orchestration and mindset. Again, the interest is present and the composition quality is homogeneous. Well anchored in the 21th Century and its human interrogations, YOJO confirms its talent by refining its musical style, painting melancholic, smoky, dehumanized vanishing landscapes. Another land of grey and pink...

As a conclusion, if you enjoy original and elegant modern jazz soundscapes, don't let this album being "abducted" from you!

 Yojo by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.71 | 8 ratings

Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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!

 Abduction by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.82 | 7 ratings

Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Mellotron Storm
Prog Reviewer

3 stars The description of this album made it sound like music I'd really enjoy but the enjoyment level wasn't as high as I'd hoped. YOJO are a Russian band and this particular album is mellow almost to a fault in my opinion. Besides the usual instruments we also get bass clarinet and violin although there are also five guests helping out and they all play horns.

"Weather Report" opens with relaxed electric piano and drums as the bass joins in as well. This is so mellow then it picks up a notch with horns 30 seconds in but it's still laid back as other sounds join in. It settles back again as contrasts continue. Some welcomed insanity before 4 1/2 minutes then it calms right down again. "Contact" is one of my favourites. Electric piano, bass and a beat as horns join in. Mellow is the word. It's fuller before 1 1/2 minutes. I like this! The horns then start to blast before 3 minutes. Nice. It settles again as contrasts continue. "5 AM" opens with percussion and horns as the bass and electric piano join in. Guitar too as it builds somewhat. It settles again 2 1/2 minutes in with horns, drums and guitar. "Cold Case" is my other favourite. When this picks up some a minute in I'm quite impressed. I really like the sound of the bass here, then the guitar joins in as it stays laid back. The sax replaces the guitar for a while then it builds after 4 1/2 minutes with dissonant horns helping out.

"Wipers" is slow and minimalistic but I like the bass when it picks up some after 2 1/2 minutes. I like the tone of the picked guitar as well. It settles back before 4 1/2 minutes. "Tourist" is the one track I don't like at all. Sounds like they took their cue from some traditional Russian dance tune or something. Not good. "Swell" is another slow and mellow tune with mostly a beat, electric piano and sax that comes and goes. It does start to build before 3 1/2 minutes and soon the horns are blasting. The tension releases a minute later. "Jump In The Mirror" has some guitar I like and violin too but I'm not so into that. It's catchy after 2 1/2 minutes with an almost determined beat, but not really. "Hazebook" ends it with another relaxed song with a beat, guitar and some electric piano. So mellow though. It does turn fuller with horns but then it settles back again.

There's so much to like here but it's just too mellow for my tastes. There's so much space for the instruments to breathe but in my opinion there's too much of it. Well worth checking out though as the reviews from some of the other collaborators will reveal, just not my scene.

 Yojo by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.71 | 8 ratings

Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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.

 Abduction by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.82 | 7 ratings

Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer

4 stars You probably aren't familiar (yet) with this gifted instrumental ensemble from Saint Petersburg. I wasn't either, until being introduced to their excellent second album by a friend of the band, who described them as "one of the most respected and beloved among the Russian musicians performing non-trivial music related to the genres of progressive rock and fusion."

Language barrier aside, I love that phrase: "non-trivial music" three succinct words capturing the essence of Prog better than the long-winded definitions we're all accustomed to. Note also that the music is only "related to" progressive rock and fusion, and therein lies its surprising appeal. You might expect an album filed in these Archives under Jazz Rock and opening with a track named "Weather Report" to favor an ethno-funky Wayne Shorter/Joe Zawinul vibe, instead of the far more atmospheric and evocative sound presented here.

The band apparently survived a dramatic shift in personnel after recording its self-titled debut album in 2013, with only the drummer and guitarist remaining, and with bass player/violinist Georg Ubel promoted from his guest slot on the earlier effort. The core group was then supplemented by a quintet of horns, and hired a full-time bass clarinet player to further enhance an already rich, cinematic style.

The added brass and woodwinds might explain the misleading Jazz Rock label. But in truth the arrangements are more orchestral than jazzy, combined with an electric guitarist capable of extraordinary nuance, and the delicate color of Anna Shmuilovich's keyboard support (my apologies if the spelling of her surname suffered in translation.)

The album itself is very exciting in its own measured fashion, admirably low-key for music related to Progressive Rock but often rising to dramatic bursts of real fire, for example in the genuinely thrilling climax of "Cold Case", and the frantic build-up (with uninhibited sax freakout) to the aptly-named "Swell". Contrast those highlights to the haunting coda of "Hazebook", and the complete package can sound almost Scandinavian in its moody romanticism.

Which I suppose makes sense: Saint Petersburg isn't too far removed, in both geography and culture, from its neighbors across the Baltic Sea. You can draw a nearly straight line from the city to Helsinki, Stockholm and Oslo, all more or less seven degrees of latitude below the Arctic Circle: a clue perhaps to the sometimes melancholy aura surrounding the music, even in the otherwise debonair tango of "Tourist".

As illustrated in the cover image, this is an album that might surprise you with its invisible grip. And, as I learned firsthand over the past week, the embrace only tightens with repeated exposure.

 Abduction by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.82 | 7 ratings

Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by snobb
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Don't be fulled by the genre tag - one can hardly find jazz fusion of any form on this album. Russian Yojo would be another post-rock band (quite elegant though) with minimal difference from myriad others, fortunately they improved their sound with five-piece reeds section.

From very first album's minutes there is no need to search in liner notes if four sax players and a trumpeter are all band's regular members: they obviously sound as internal part of the music. Surprisingly enough it doesn't make songs sounding raw or eclectic. Post rock is quite specific sub-genre which has strong feel of "liquidity" and "sameness" in its genes (legacy from one of its parent - ambient music). Adding (even time to time) quite free woodwind session's passages works as adrenaline injection and successfully makes all music sounding more alive.

"Tourist" is beautiful post-rock tango with jazzy feel with straight saxophone line and doesn't differ much from music of some fashionable nu jazz bands (similarly as "Swell"). Still after few more "jazzy" pieces bands returns back to post- rock aesthetics domination. Main band's and woodwinds section's parts were recorded separately in different places and time and were mixed together only in studio. Such technology would kill almost any better jazz recording, but here it works without serious problems - "Abduction" is still rock music first of all.

Some years ago I was really intrigued with early post-rock recordings,but very soon genre's limited potential for development and numerous clones distributing post-rock "sameness" around almost killed my interest to it. I may be wrong than, but it looks Yojo original formula gives post-rock another chance.

 Abduction by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.82 | 7 ratings

Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by octopus-4
Special Collaborator RIO/Avant/Zeuhl Team

4 stars Not much different from the debut album and equally good. I don't know why the St.Petersburg scene is so full of excellent artists. Iamthemorning and Roz Vitalis are from that city. It has to be something magic.

Yojo's music is a slow, atmospheric and quite sophisticated jazz-rock. I remember to have associated the first album to the atmosphere of Blade Runner (the Movie). This album is still "grey", but it has something more. Trumpet and guitar in particular give the music a special appeal.

It's strange the I personally hear a Floydian vibe even though the guitar doesn't have anything similar with David Gilmour and brass and violins haven't been used much by Floyds after Atom Heart Mother. As I was saying before, it's a question of atmosphere. 5AM reminds me also to the late Soft Machine, but let's go track by track.

I don't know if the the opener's title, "Weather Report", has to do with the band. It's perfect for a rainy day thanks mainly to the trumpet, but also the electric piano makes its part. It changes in the middle when the mood becomes darker just transorming the main sequence of major chords into minor, including a short chaotic noisy interlude.

The mood is similar on "Contact" but the tempo is faster and the full brass section is active. Piano and drums make it sound like if you are in a smokey pub.

"5AM" is the track for which I have mentioned the Soft Machine. It's based on a repetitive sequence of notes and flows like fresh water for half of the track, then it enters a little darker realm. Like two different phases of the same dream.

"Cold Case" brings us back to a sort of newyorkese night. It would be perfect for a "Noir" movie. After the intro the guitar makes it brighter until the trumpet is back. It's a great track.

"Wipers" has a slow start. Here is a sax playing the main role. The sound of the guitar has made me remember an obscure late 70s band: the Felt. Only for the clean guitar sound. Yojo are on a very different technical level.

I'm not expert so I can be wrong. "Tourist" seems to me a "Tango". It has the sound and the melancholy of many works by Astor Piazzolla, but it may be not tango at all. Again, it's more question of atmosphere. A very remarkable track.

Back to the North with "Swell". Here it's the piano that drives. The track is based mainly on only two chords, but the many variations and the brasses in the second half of the track make a very good crescendo before returning to the initial theme closed by the trumpet.

"Jump in the Mirror" could be easily hidden in a Carla Bley album but has also a sort of ethnic touch and an unusual guitar feedback in the background. As with other album tracks, it suddenly changes at half track, going to diferent soundscapes, moving from major to minor sequences of chords.

Last, the closer. "Hazebook" is a return to the dreamy grey soundscape, with the brass section still reminding of Carla Bley. This is the most progressive song of the album in my opinion. The arrangement is very original and the general mood of the track is sad and grey, with a slight crescendo and a return to the slow beginning. A circular track.

As usual, when I mention other artists is just a personal impression. I don't even know if any band member has ever listened to Carla Bley or any of the artists that I've cited in this review.

A solid 4 stars jazz-rock album.

 Yojo by YOJO album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.71 | 8 ratings

Yojo Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by 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.

Thanks to historian9 for the artist addition.

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