Genre: Instrumental Post-rock / Space Rock
01) Ghostship – Deadwater
02) Tomahawk Watercress
04) Whales in Tar
06) Garden Sessions III
07) Japanese Garden
In the Autumn months of last year, I was fortunate enough to review a copy of the latest offering from the Sons of Alpha Centauri, only this time they had evolved into something completely different by recruiting the talents of one Mr. Gary Arce, otherwise known as Yawning Man, and creatively calling the collaborative project “Yawning Sons”. That work was of course a quick seven inch split with another of Arce’s new projects, “WaterWays”, with Mario Lalli and Tony Tornay of Fatso Jetson and only showcased Yawning Sons for one short track. Impressive as it was, anyone would prefer a further glance into the world of Yawning Sons, and that’s exactly what we’re finding here with their first official full-length as a collective, “Ceremony to the Sunset.” Don’t be fooled into interpreting the album title as an easily discernible beach-side romanticism. Though this album is instrumental, it seems to have a lot to say without the need for words, and if there is one thing that is impressive about this new project, it is that.
It’s important to mention that this full-length came before the split, and with this album, it’s apparent that Yawning Sons aren’t simply involved in the Fennesz-esque surf ambient sound of the split. No, there is much more texture here than that, from keyboard work that brings out their spacey tendencies to the dark, proggy atmosphere of Ghostship – Deadwater that is made all the more pristine by the enchantingly minimal voice of Wendy Rae Fowler. The tribal percussion that the project implements is a strong element of their music, giving them another element to work with in regards to a beach-side theme, of course around a fire. The effects-drenched guitars are also ever present once more, though they take on many different characteristics through their sometimes harmoniously droning, sometimes overly vibrato approach. There is minimal experimentation to be found as well, especially on “Whales in Tar” which the project performed flawlessly by including an unearthly, spherical droning background of lush sound that gives rise to the mournful wailing of the guitar that has been effected to mimic the sound of whales. The only down-side to the release may perhaps be Mario Lalli’s vocal performance in “Meadows”. Of course, that’s not to say that his voice isn’t well-suited for music as it has a good tone overall, but for this record it was distracting due to its rough, Bruce Springsteen style vocals. It just wasn’t suited for this type of music and gave the track an entirely different feel.
At the beginning of this review it was mentioned that there are alternate views to the meaning and theme behind this release. It would be all too easy to see “Ceremony to the Sunset” as simply that: a personal experience between friends to remember those evenings together jamming out lightly under the setting sun, admiring the beauty and letting those visual cues and the essence of the sea influence the music that they create. Indeed, every bit of this release could be compared to that appearance of dusk, from the layered introspective guitar melodies to the broken down, bass-laden, dissonant/sinister sounding moments. However, I can’t help but feel that there is an environmental message hiding within the textures of “Ceremony…”. With tracks like “Ghostship – Deadwater”, “Wetlands” and “Whales in Tar”, the project subtly hints at these textures. When you combine that with the album artwork which in turn hides smokestacks and electrical lines within otherwise beautiful imagery of sunsets over the water, the underlying message should become even more clear. Of course, not everyone will take the time to put thought to references like this when no words are involved to lead their way, but there’s certainly more going on here than meets the eye. The point is, don’t simply accept instrumental music as instrumental, as more often than not, saying little or nothing behind a subtle hint can be all the more powerful of a message.