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Yodok: Yodok 1

img  Tobias Fischer

Amplified tuba and drums. From Norway. On Vinyl. Single sided. And a personal definition of what … Improv? Drone? Experimental? Whatever your choice of terminology, be sure that it doesn't discourage too many potential listeners from checking this album out. For despite its clearly exploratory tendencies, this is music deserving of a wider audience. Over the course of a single, 23-minute track, Yodok are developing an astoundingly dense vision of in-the-momentness without the disadvantages of either hiding behind an obscure, impenetrable concept or stoically sticking to a single idea or motive throughout the entire length of the performance.

Instead, the formation manage to carve out a hypnotically simmering drone-theme – never without its melodic merits - from the minimal palette of tuba and cymbals and to then gradually condense it using increasingly differentiated percussion sounds and an intensification of  breath. Slowly, but surely, the band lead the music to an almost cacophonous acme, only to re-align the splintered pieces again in the final stages of the work. It is a classic build-up using anything but classic instrumentation and even the fact that the duo are also using effect pedals and loopers hardly makes it seem any less refreshing.

And yet, the exotic set-up is clearly never a means to an end - the only thing that matters here is that it's being put to great effect. There's a remarkable precision and an extremely tight interplay between Kristoffer Lo and Thomas Järmyr, an all but instinctive instrumental communication. Riding on the crest of this wondrous wave, Yodok 1 is a record boldly breaking the boundaries of genres and style. You may even call it 'slow free jazz', depending on your point of view. But only, if the term won't discourage too many potential listeners from checking this album out.

By Hellmut Neidhardt
Translation by Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Yodok
Homepage: The Perfect Hoax Records