It's easy to inject some merciless noise into your pallet of pop, as evidenced
by the inventions of countless indie merrymakers such as Pavement, Dinosaur Jr.,
and My Bloody Valentine, but even more jarring and difficult is doing the
inverse. How exactly does one go from noise to pop? And can it really be
considered pop when all is said and done? Ann Arbor creeps Wolf Eyes, for
example, temper their tantrums with drums machines and semblances of song
structure, taking the more abstract freak-outs of forebearers like Merzbow and
Whitehouse into more grounded and immediate, but no less dangerous and rude
territory. Likewise, the first track on Yellow Swans' 2004 Narnack release
Bring The Neon War Home rode an incessant drum machine beat, creating an
experience akin to Throbbing Gristle coming of age during the heyday of D.C.
hardcore. It was grooveable without question, but the exact number of folks
willing to hip-shake to that mess was probably the same number who are openly
masochistic about their listening experiences. Which is to say, not a lot.
Psychic Secession does away with the bump-and-grind of filthy, jagged
machines, and instead finds the Yellow Swans getting right down to business in
the most erosive manner allowable, yet still tempering the caustic spree with
enough civility to welcome those not accustomed to having their senses outright
severed into the fold. It's noise that can instantaneously captivate and
enrapture, and while the sense of accessibility on paper could turn-off those
into the most extreme of the extreme, the Yellow Swans are less open-armed than
plainly masterful and sophisticated.
Opener "True Union" is an impeccable 20-minute soundscape of pulsating, bubbling
electronic drone-stomp, that for the first seven minutes or so could almost be
considered ambient were it not for the constant attacks of feedback screeches,
muffled screams, and a bass drum thud that sounds like a human heart feeling the
damage of too many amphetamines that manifest thereafter. All of these elements
run in to spoil any kind-of geniality, and likewise, the closing "Velocity Of
The Yolk" has moments that are outright pretty, but a disquieting sense of
unease permeates the affair.
The title track utilizes more of the machine-gun patter of seemingly innocuous
drum machines, but where before the Yellow Swans may have programmed the
percussion to paradoxically add some back-beat, the bass-hits here exist in a
manner so bogged down in stress that it's almost physically vexing. "I Woke Up"
even has an electro break of some sort beneath all the muck of guitar freakouts
and electronic cacophony, but you'd be hard-pressed to draw your focus toward
its stutter-and-stop. Potentially danceable music this despondent hasn't been
composed so auspiciously since perhaps Throbbing Gristle decided to make tunes
or Cabaret Voltaire first decided to have a go as an entity.
Psychic Secession is the perfect gateway for adventurous folk reasonably
not willing to jump right into the abyss of the daunting and
less-than-user-friendly noise scene. But even hardened veterans would be foolish
to overlook Psychic Secession as lacking in the genre's key draws of
brutality and extremity. Rather, Psychic Secession proves that Yellow
Swans and the outside talent they draw in for the affair are masters of the
craft of discord, able to appeal to a wide spectrum while still demanding heaps
of endurance out of their listeners.
1. True Union
2. Psychic Secession
3. I Woke Up
4. Velocity Of The Yolk