Monday, August 06, 2007

Album: Souvenir's Young America - An Ocean Without Water

Artist: Souvenir's Young America
Album: An Ocean Without Water
Label: Crucial Blast

01.Mars Ascendent
Blood Alone Does Not a Father Make
03.Dark Was the Night Cold Was the Ground
04.The Sheltering Sky
05.Invocation In the Caldera
06.Coragyps Atratus (Ego te Absolvo)

You can always count on Crucial Blast to bring something great your way. Whether or not it is a band you're familiar with or not they always managed to put out critical releases that should not be missed.

Souvenir's Young America from Richmond, VA is one of their latest signings and they are nothing short of astonishing. This is their third record and sadly I've missed out on the other two, so I can't compare this to their other work but "An Ocean without Water" needs no comparisons as it is a fantastic release that stands completely on its own two legs.

SYA play an enticing brand of instrumental rock that has a flavor all of its own. Their sound loosely toys with Neurosis style pounding and bombast, while touching down gently in the western sounds of Across Tundras and Earth's "Hex" album, with the instrumental, electronic washes of some of the German greats (Ash Ra Tempel, Can, etc.) rounding out the mix and increasing the psychedelic element greatly. Hell, throw in some pure soundtrack moments too while you are at it.

This is actually quite a difficult record to digest as each track is quite unique from the rest and the running times are all fairly lengthy giving you plenty to come back to.

"Mars Ascendent" gets us started off with an oppressive, droning atmosphere that has intricate tribal drums, layers of distortion and haunting keyboard swells that give you the vibe that something incredibly heavy is coming but then the band delves into shimmering, clean chords that are enhanced by some harmonica playing. The band picks up the pace later in the track led by an increasingly intense drum performance and they rip into a few country tinged riffs that are seeped in light distortion, casting a foreboding tone that leads all the way up to the end of the track.

"Blood Alone does not a Father Make" takes the idea of Earth's "Hex" and spices it up with even deeper country influences in the guitar work that is laid upon a foundation of plodding drums, sparse electronics, harmonica and cello. The track distorts much heavily later and brings a hazy, country/stoner vibe that is pounding and dark but still full of eerie melody. The entire mixture flows together perfectly, literally coming alive out of your speakers with an organic feel that is brooding and captivating.

The slow, droning "Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground" is a minimalist, drone piece that is nothing but electronics and subtle guitar hysterics that smolder like the embers of a fire and eventually lead up to the mighty "The Sheltering Sky" which is probably the heaviest track on the album. It begins in a fairly subdued, acoustic state but explodes loudly as it moves along with thundering electronic bursts leveling everything in their path as the rest of the instrumentation follows suite. The track settles down in a state of trance-like beauty later on as the subtle arrangements blow by like tumbleweeds in a deserted western town.

"Invocation of the Caldera" is another excellent track that builds slowly and really opens up during its second half with powerful keys and a strong variety in instrumentation. The finale of this track dances nicely between tones that are heavy, chaotic and beautiful all at once as moods swing and shift into all sorts of entrancing arrangements.

The final track, "Coragyps Atratus" could very well have been recorded for some sort of horror soundtrack. It melds their dark, brooding foundation with all types of noise and damaged technology that brings together Neurosis, Earth, Ash Ra Tempel and Goblin into a droning psychosis that had me sucked in from the very first moment.

This is a killer record all around bringing together a vast melting pot of influences both modern and classic. There are snippets of everything from doom, drone, country, noise and krautrock. You aren't likely to pick up a better disc of instrumental soundscapes this whole year. I am going to be doing everything in my power to check out more material from this excellent instrumental outfit based on the power of this recording and I'll be damn sure to catch their live set in Pittsburgh next week. Fans of the instrumental stuff would be a damn fool to miss out on this one.

Souvenir's Young America @ Myspace
Buy it here.

1 Engineers:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this one. It's strange yet beautiful, dark yet seductive and hypnotic.

keep up the good work

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