Yang – Designed For Disaster (Cuneiform) – French composer and guitarist Frédéric L’Épée formed his first serious band, Shylock, while in his teens and waxed two now highly collectible albums with that formation in the mid 70s; moving on to the guitar-centric combo Philharmonie, who existed from 1987-1998 and which produced a further five full-length releases. Since 2004, he has been leading and working with the more ‘rock’ oriented quartet Yang.
Where were we? Half way around the, no, nowhere near the red bats but this has been out for almost a month now and although we have been playing tracks of the radio words have so far, not really flowed, let’s put that right, Yang bang, sweet, no, no, this is good the words and lyrics ans singing were maybe a little unexpected, the music is as hard boiled as ever, never difficult, never awkward, never at odds with our ears. A new Yang album, do like the shouting of seemingly random words, all the Basquiat-like descriptions of the sounds and the “Stark”, “Frei”, “Fight”, “Klang”, “Bruit”, and such. And when Ayşe Cansu Tanrikulu sing “properly” they are surprisingly beautiful, surprisingly accessible. This if froent-line forward looking avant prog rock, the real deal, the real stuff, properly progressive in the proper sense without ever being awkward or difficult or way too clever for anyone’s good.
The European quartet’s fourth release, Designed For Disaster – their second for the consistently rewarding Cuneiform label – is Yang at their best, this is an album alive with musical delight, with rewarding details, does some of it hint at the quieter side of Cardiacs, the way the composition flows, the way it lights up? The massive five and a bit minutes of Unisson is pretty much perfect, the whole album is actually, the whole body of work flowing as one big beautiful thing. Yes, it does “Klang” now and again, but never in an intruding way, it is both a strong album and a delicate album, delicately tough and yes, some of it is a little eerie, and maybe a touch unsettling. Ultimately it is wonderful, ultimately the whole thing is a treat.
“With Designed for Disaster, Frédéric L’Épée’s compositions primarily have their genesis in Baroque music, minimalism, and of course the progressive rock he gravitated towards as a teenager, with King Crimson’s Robert Fripp as his acknowledged influence, but there are passages on Designed For Disaster that sound very much like what Steve Reich might have arrived at had he been writing for two guitars, electric bass, and drums rather than for percussion ensemble”. Not really hearing the minimalism, it sounds almost maximalist to these ears – almost, not quite, it certainly is alive with details, busy tunes, busy songs, space to breath though, never overworked, never cluttered up, light of touch and yes I guess Crimson and Fripp are positive (vague) reference points, as are classic early Genesis and yes, Cardiacs but really this is like none of them, this really is a very fine rock album, a very fine progressive rock album, a very fine Yang album, a highly recommended one. This is a delight. (sw)
hear some of the album and find the order details on Bandcamp
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