July 13, 2004

Yakuzi "Yakuzi"

Spain's Yakuzi is a bit of a mystery. This group's self-titled EP is a quiet, moody affair. From the cover art, you'd probably be quick to assume that theirs is a progressive indie-rock sound, not unlike Godspeed! You Black Emperor or Sigur Ros or anything on Constellation--and you'd be right. Opening song "Vitto" starts with a distant drone, a moody piano and Spanish guitar--real soothing in a disturbing kind of way--and then it gets weird, with schizophrenic guitars, vocals that are distorted (you won't recognize it as a human voice unless you listen rather hard) and, by song's end, an opera singer.

Yakuzi uses that same formula for the entirety of Yakuzi, and it sounds amazing. On first listen, you'd probably assume that they are an instrumental band, but you can't say that, because there are vocals. Sure, they're often distorted (on "Aldapa Gora"), or they're spoken ("Ecstatic Electricity") or they're so wispy that you won't notice them ("Cherigan's Revenge"), but they're there. The real winner of the record, though, is their amazing, nine-minute ambient-rock cover of My Bloody Valentine's "Sometimes." You won't recognize it; the guitars have been replaced with twinkling keyboards and the waves of guitar genius have been replaced with gentle synthesizers, and the singing is simply gorgeous in an understated manner. To say it's the best cover I've ever heard of My Bloody Valentine is a major understatement; that they've managed to turn a classic My Bloody Valentine song into the greatest song the Orb never did only highlights Yakuzi's brilliance.

Yakuzi is a great EP, period. I'm curious to see where they'll go from here, because the fruits of this record are really, really sweet. Yakuzi is not beautiful, it is beauty. Seek them out immediately, even if you don't like ambient-rock.

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.pausemusic.net

No comments: