- Blue/White "Cornetto" vinyl (Limited Edition)
- Red/Blue "Half/Half"
- Black Kite
- Revolt Against Tired Noises
- Skyline Pressure
- Grants Heart
- Violent Lights
- Misfortune Cookies
- Ghost Beach
Release Date: July 6, 2018
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds Records
The California desert is fortunate to have Yawning Man as its soundtrack. For over 30 years in varying forms and degrees of activity, the instrumentalist outfit have been an entity unto themselves. Their sound today seems like the foundation for the laid back groove that is essential to desert rock as a style even in its most aggressive forms, and the tone of founding guitarist Gary Arce is a monument to open spaces. Together with bassist Mario Lalli — also guitarist/vocalist for Fatso Jetson, who are no slouches themselves when it comes to being desert rock legends — Arce resides at the foundation of the style, bringing elements of indie, punk, goth rock and more together into a brew that’s still potent these decades later. They’ve spent the better part of the 2010s touring periodically through Europe, and offered a surprise release in 2015’s Historical Graffiti, which was something of an anomaly studio session in South America with an expanded lineup, but also the band’s first full-length since 2010’s Nomadic Pursuits, so certainly more than a one-off or stopgap in reality.
Their new album, The Revolt Against Tired Noises, is their first release through Heavy Psych Sounds, which also issued Fatso Jetson‘s 2016 LP, Idle Hands, and while its title is confrontational, the revolt Yawning Man — Arce, Lalli and drummer Bill Stinson — are ultimately leading is peaceful, rife with serene melodies in the guitar and unmitigated fluidity rife with purpose but carrying nonetheless an air of spontaneity, the in-deep-jam feeling that a track like side B opener “Violent Lights” can and will go anywhere its chemistry will allow, which is just about anywhere, period. The Revolt Against Tired Noises also includes vocals for the first time on a Yawning Man album from Lalli on the side A closer “Grant’s Heart” and the later “Catamaran” — the latter which was never recorded by Yawning Man but covered by Kyuss on 1995’s …And the Circus Leaves Town, thus codifying Yawning Man‘s influence on that seminal act. The singing turns out to be something of a footnote in the sphere of the entire eight-song/39-minute release, but it’s one more nuance to their work and provides listeners an anchor to each half of the album, so as not to simply drift into the ether, carried away by otherworldly tones and engaging, hypnotic rhythm.
Much of what’s included is nothing less than gorgeous. With Mathias Schneeberger (Fatso Jetson, Goatsnake, earthlings?, Earth, Yawning Man, The Obsessed, so many others) helming the recording, opener “Black Kite” provides a genuine shimmer leading into the record, and even has a bit of an instrumental hook in its later going, its long fadeout giving way to the title-track, which seems to work in subtle layers but brings Lalli‘s bass and Stinson‘s drums forward along with the guitar, so that all three players stand toe-to-toe in the mix. That has an effect of making “Revolt Against Tired Noises” (which seems to have dropped the “the” from the name of the album) a heavier overall sound, but it’s still consistent with the rest of its surroundings in tone and overall approach, including a midsection that’s as trance-inducing as I’ve ever heard Yawning Man get and an evocative finish that emerges, bringing one back to semi-consciousness for the start of “Skyline Pressure,” which is an extended redux of the title-track to Yawning Man side-project Ten East‘s 2016 album, though also has its origins in Yawning Man proper. At 7:40, it’s the longest inclusion on the record and builds to a head just before four-minutes in — I’d swear I hear keys in there too; anything’s possible — and then drops out to cycle through again, the second journey different and even more pleasing than the first as the song meanders to its ending.
As noted, there are two songs with Lalli singing on them, and they just happen to be the two shortest tracks on The Revolt Against TiredNoises: “Grant’s Heart” (3:18) and “Catamaran” (3:03). On linear formats — CD/DL — they appear with the six-minute “Violent Lights” between them, but they were clearly divided up to be included one on each vinyl side as well. Whether the origins of “Grant’s Heart” go back as far as those of “Catamaran,” I don’t know, but neither piece is out of place, and Lalli‘s voice is hardly jarring when it shows up, either for those who know the context of who these players are and what they do or for those who don’t. As riotous as Fatso Jetson can sometimes be, Yawning Man‘s vocals are more subdued, holding a melodic kinship to the guitar beneath them, and in “Grant’s Heart,” giving way to that guitar at about two minutes in, only to return in the fadeout a minute later. And while “Catamaran” will be familiar to desert rock heads from the John Garcia-fronted version, in Lalli‘s hands, it still has its chorus kick, but is more about flow than crunch, and very much Yawning Man‘s own, which is odd to say because it was their own in the first place. Especially coming out of the engrossing “Violent Lights,” which has some sense of foreboding in the low end around its halfway point but is otherwise much more about its howling wisps of floating guitar, “Catamaran” is something of a grounding force, but still coherent atmospherically with its surroundings.
“Misfortune Cookies,” which follows, isn’t much longer at 3:31, but reignites the album’s wandering-but-not-lost spirit and brings the guitar back as the center of the melody. An improvised-sounding jam, its run is linear and stretches outward, a long fade leading one to wonder just how much longer it might’ve gone before actually petering out. It leaves like a dream giving way to consciousness as it is, and as Stinson‘s drums start closer “Ghost Beach,” there’s all the more a sense of interaction between the real and the unreal. The Revolt Against Tired Noises may be fostering some kind of rebellion, but it’s doing so with the approach that Yawning Man trademarked a long time ago, and even if it takes them to new places, the paths they use to get there will be familiar and welcoming to longtime listeners and newcomers alike, the bouncing bassline of “Ghost Beach” and Arce‘s wailing, echoing leads both punctuated by the snare as the finale works its way toward dropping out the drums and letting Lalli‘s bass and Arce‘s guitar close out the last minute on their own, which is fair enough. Yawning Man have been perpetually underrated for 30 years. Any acclaim that The Revolt Against Tired Noises can bring them, they’ve long since deserved, but the album is more than just a showcase of legacy. It proves not only that Yawning Man‘s sound is timeless, but that it’s still growing, and that turns out to be its most righteous aspect.
- The Obelisk