Here was something from left field that I bought just because it was on Bureau B. The label has that much cachet with me now. At first, I thought the band name was Yoy and the album was called “Like A Stuntman,” but I eventually found out that was backwards. This is the Hamburg band’s second album and it was released two years ago. Will it be my friend?
#23 • Like A Stuntman: Yoy GER CD 
- Symptoms Of The Ocular
- Yesturday Euphoria
- Dog Show Digest
- Ooze Yeah Ooze
- Hell No
- Boy Campaign
- Sentimental Education
- A Decade Or Less
First of all, this is perhaps the only CD in the Record Cell that absolutely sounds like it was made in the last five years. Music just wasn’t like this until very recently. It bears no resemblance to Krautrock or NDW that I associate with its label. The band sing in English, and don’t sound particularly German on the face of it. I suppose that they sound Post-National. What does that mean? Well, the group’s sound is based upon heavily manipulated samples and loops overlaid with traditional instrumentation like guitars, drums and keyboards, all heavily effected. The vocalist sounds reminds me of Peter Gabriel and Dave Thomas of Pere Ubu thrown in a blender with “frappé” hit on the panel.
The vocals seem to have been multitracked for a distancing effect that finds one take not quite harmonizing with the other. In fact, the vocal melodies have a tentative, unresolved quality that almost sounds like melodies that were recorded and played backwards and then resung with new words matching the meter and attack of the backwards file, if that makes any sense. It all coalesces into a beautiful strangeness that could wear thin with repetition, but works for me, for now. The only touchstone I can point to after listening to this was the Matthew Dear version of “Talk [Beneath Your Dreams]” from the “Evidence” album. This album really, really brings that approach to mind, so if you are familiar with that track, it strongly recalls the vocal approach used on this album.
“Ooze Yeah Ooze” manages to synthesize Philip Glass with the polyrhythmic attack that Byrne and Eno used on “My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts.” The middle eight swells in something resembling a swarm of synthesizer cicadas. The whole thing has a flowing, yet not quite formless quality with various components in the roiling mix coming to the fore at different times in the foreground.
I have the sneaky suspicion that there may be scads of music like this out there right now, but because The Monk rarely ventures out of his Record Cell, I remain oblivious to much of it. Still, the effort in eschewing much of traditional music forms bears the fruit of novelty, if nothing else. Since this is my first immersion in this brand of music, I approach it through the lens of modernity, but I see where this could wear thin in its heavy contrivance. The old saw about the worth of a song with just an acoustic guitar for accompaniment is such an old saw for good reason. I suspect that this album could survive such a test, and in doing so, call into question the band’s whole aesthetic. But at least they’re trying to do something different.
It occurs to me that part of why I was lukewarm on the Dave Gahan album yesterday was that it sounded like the product of samples and loops used to resemble synth pop. With that reliance on modern tools to resemble “traditional” synth pop, it failed for me. This album was made using the same tools, but doesn’t seek to simulate the craftsmanship of an earlier era. This album revels in the artifice of its creation in the same way that the Bauhaus stripped away Rococo ornamentation to reveal the steel and concrete beneath the surfaces all along. And for today, that’s enough.
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