Friday, January 22, 2010
YOGA "MEGAFAUNA" (Holy Mountain)
A couple of years ago Conjunctions published an issue called "The New Wave Fabulists". The fiction contained within was demonstrative of the continually blurring lines between genre fiction and literature and strove toward a new appreciation of what used to be thought of as science fiction and horror. The idea was that exercises rooted in genre could still be beautifully executed enough to qualify as honest to god literature and that the reading public needed to reassess what fiction really was. This thinking could just as easily apply to the idea of black metal. Fifteen years ago the qualifications were narrow and obvious, and few bands could hope to attain the violence and conviction necessary to orient themselves as black metal. Today the genre boasts an incredible, almost inconceivable amount of practitioners from all musical backgrounds, a small number of whom borrow the faintest vestiges of the genre and cast it as a template for a new musical palette altogether. One such band operating on the extreme outer fringe are Yoga-you may as well think of them as the Henry Darger of black metal because their music is so fucked up and removed, yet still grounded in the base idea of balck metal, that they truly stand apart from their peers. In that respect Holy Mountain is the perfect label for "Megafauna" and its distanced approach, as they've made releasing true brain fucking albums seem like the most obvious thing in the world. and Yoga are truly brain fucking, make no mistake. Most of the record is based around harsh, screaming feedback samples and loops of stumbling guitar decasia, while a damaged drum machine plods on in the background, rendered bombastic with echo but almost oblivious to the songs it's supposed to be anchoring. Vocals are nonexistent or so processed that they're just another howl (i'm leaning towards nonexistent but i really don't know) and the song titles reference appropriate fantasy horrors and hallucinogenic states of being, like some mushroomed-out Lovecraftian dreamstate. Every now and again a "riff" will surface, rising to the top of the soundlake like some bloated floater, dead and rotting and stinking of infection but more often than not the music languishes in a psychedelic state of insomnia, whirling about like a sandstorm without direction, rooted to one swath of desert, doomed to swirl and whine until it finally dies from lack of purpose. The record as a whole doesn't suffer from the aimlessness though-quite the opposite. These moments in time become hypnotic and all-consuming, completely enveloping your attentions and sweeping you up in their own sense of pointless blackened grandeur. This is disease made into music, a cough that just gets worse and more aggravating, the fever that increases a degree a week and never really breaks, the walking pneumonia of black metal. Strange, strange landscapes that seem utterly familiar, so otherworldly yet born of simple primitivism. It lacks the force and direction of more disciplined black metal projects, but "Megafauna" succeeds in opening up the third eye of extreme music.