December 21, 2016
Legion of Radiance
Consouling Sounds Soul 0064
Combining for what they describe somewhat hyperbolically as a New Wave in Jazz, are the Northern Europeans who make up Yodok III. Swedish drummer Tomas Järmyr and Norwegian tubaist Kristoffer Lo have extended their Yodok project by partnering with Belgian guitarist Dirk Serries for improvisations that are designed to mix ambient inferences with the most rugged industrial noises imaginable. Like theories such as Quebec Separatism or American Populism which appear inspired until attempted in practice, the concept proves better in thought than action, at least as expressed on Legion of Radiance,. If demagoguery often overpowers the basic power for the masses which Populism is designed to encourage, in this case the unvarying industrial power associated with loud and electronic instruments ultimately throws of balance the quiet-noise blend for which Yodok was aiming.
Individually like new recruits to a political party the three appear genuinely committed to the idea. Certainly some of the trio’s individual projects have managed to negotiate the bridge among sonic genders without failing. Järmyr for instance has worked with both Italian Metal-Improv band Zu and Norway’s Trondheim Jazz Orchestra (TJO), while Lo is not only a valued members of the TJO, but part of the reductionist Microtub tuba trio with Martin Text and Robin Hayward. Meanwhile Serries has evolved from playing dark, guitar-consumed programs to experimenting with Jazz-improv alongside the likes of saxophonist John Dikeman and drummer Steve Noble.
With almost 10 minutes of the introduction to this 68-minute tour-de-force so silent that it almost appears as of Yodok has bridged the auditory gap between AMM-The Necks on one side and Black Sabbath/Einstürzende Neubauten on the other, the gradual introduction of strident string vibrations, percussion resonations reflecting back upon initial strokes and diminished brass blowing only heightens the suturing of timbral contradictions. Yet one-quarter of the way through stentorian almost wood-cracking drum pops, gravelly tuba ejaculations and crunching riffs from the guitarist start to overpower the other elements like cream rising to the top of milk. By this time however the formula begins to curdle.
Except for a (too) brief interlude a few minutes later when granulated tuba tones are repeated frequently enough to reach the rococo-style sensibility of a massed vocal choir at full volume, fortissimo drones and processed buzzes dominate the program for the next 30 minutes. Driven by splash cymbals, bass drum recoil and pressurized guitar flanges, consistent forward motion in maintained. However like the aftershock of an earthquake that appears just after the initial convulsion has subsided, the selection reaches a more elevated noise level just when that appears impossible. Aurally resembling a protoplasmic mass in a horror movie that swallows everything in its way, the result is all stress no balance, with the track ending as clotted and chunky as it was a half-hour previously.
If Industrial-Metal-Improv admixture exists, this is probably it and could impress seekers for that sub-genre. But judging from the initial exposition of this track, next time out Yodok should try to add even more colors to its palate.
Track Listing: 1. Legion of Radiance
Personnel: Kristoffer Lo (amplified tuba and flugelbone); Dirk Serries (guitar) and Tomas Järmyr (drums)