The Yellow Swans - Psychic Secession
The enigmatic duo known only as the Yellow Swans must have some kind of twisted genius. Normally, I find myself disliking the majority of noise albums that cross my desk or pop up in my mail; this time around, Psychic Session struck a chord within me I didn't even know I had. In keeping with the largely live tradition of most noise bands, this pair have a wide-variety of concert bootlegs I managed to read about, but little in the way of full-lengths. Apparently, this is their second studio album, after Bring the Neon War Home. What is interesting right off the bat in terms of this disc is the amount of support it has behind it. A truckload of noise artists (too many to mention here, though I will point out White Rainbow, Axolotl, and Inca Ore for starters) all help on the four tracks on offer here, and in something of a shocker for me personally the disc was recorded by Daniel Voss.
For those of you not into USBM (American wave of modern black metal basically), Voss became a cult-figure in that movement by producing and releasing record by black metal visionary Wrest of Los Angeles. Some of you will recall that Wrest is the man behind Leviathan (whose Tentacles of Whorror is considered to be a future classic of underground black metal) and Lurker of Chalice. To make things even more intriguing, Psychic Secession is actually the remastered version of another album which dropped on the Aussie label Numerical Thief, and is only now reaching American markets.
Remastered or not, Voss and the band definitely have captured the spirit of Voss's earlier work with Leviathan and/or Lurker of Chalice. While those bands are revered for their simple, chilling, and hypnotic BM that eventually explodes into fiery rage, the Yellow Swans have allowed a new format for that kind of production style and Psychic Secession is buzzing, hypnotic, and strangely moving noise. The songs are thickly layered with the typical random aural odds-and-ends, yet buried beneath it all is melodic, abstract instrumentation that dare I say borders on memorable and quietly grandiose at times. It makes for an unnerving, downer kind of mix, but there is plenty of redemption to be found in this CD's trance-inducing sounds.
The twenty minute opener "True Union" sets the vibe perfectly. As the longest track available here, it's skittering fuzz, yawning echoes, and feedback-drenched washes of sound instantly lull one into a very false sense of security. Title track "Psychic Secession" features creepy vocal wisps, helicopter percussion, and a sense of bleary, choppy rhythm that is oddly endearing. "I Woke Up" is really freaking sweet and oozes with surprise after surprise; I'd rather not spoil much but let's say that the title is fitting...this song is a lot like sleeping peacefully, tossing and turning out of it, and then awakening into some chaotic world with the bare minimum of dream-state residue to make you remember the peace you just lost. "Velocity of the Yolk" slowly builds from moody atmospherics and murmuring wails into vaguely tribal, ghostly beat noise. It all feels right as rain, and equally cold and slick too.
All-in-all, if you are looking for noise that manages to maintain a sense of identity amidst all the rambling rubble, this one may be for you. Rather than just spewing forth sonic torture, the band gives you that AND some out of left field melodies as well. This is one decent album I would have never seen coming.
1. True Union
2. Psychic Secession
3. I Woke Up
4. Velocity of the Yolk
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