Yankee Yankee
Segments [CS; Unit Structure Sound Recordings]

Yankee Yankee is the solo project of Whitney Ota, who’s a hard-workin’ dude living in Calgary while running an excellent label/distribution center called USSR (Unit Structure Sound Recordings). This album follows a previous effort from a couple of years ago that had more of a traditional kraut-rock band type of setup to it, complete with live drums, electric guitars, and the whole shebang. Ota definitely was hitting an intrepid space cadet-glide vibe with that combo, but in all honesty the band-iteration of Yankee Yankee felt a little limited, great ideas and intentions left unrealized due to technical deficiencies. So this time around Ota’s only using electronics. This new direction is kicking his shit straight into warp drive, a hyper-space jump in quality, we’re talking. I think a big part of this album’s success is that this turn in technology takes his music into an entirely new terrain of tempo, using a lot of synth-oscillating loops and delay effects to speed things up to explore the wonders of melodies scrunched way in tightly on themselves, like they’re being sucked in with centripetal force while spinning in a centrifuge. Arpeggios climbing into the stratosphere and zapping rhythmic hooks delivered with such clockwork precision, such an unwavering gusto, that those swirling, nob-twisted effects and electrically-tenderized swooping of sounds hovering past your ears are given vibrant new life — mind-exploding, tangibly psychedelic new life — all while keeping centered, focused, and completely under control. By far the best work I’ve heard from him, and definitely a highlight in a catalog of really strong (and usually quite noisy) releases over at USSR, Segments is a tempered-but-sprawling leap for Ota and also one of the best synthesizer recordings of the year.


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