Exposé print issues (1993-2011)
Yang — Designed for Disaster
(Cuneiform Rune 494, 2022, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2022-02-26
It’s been a good five years since we heard from Yang, on their 2017 album The Failure of Words, though the instrumentalists remain the same since their 2010 album Machines. First and foremost among them is group composer Frédéric L’Épée, whose legacy goes back to the 70s with the two albums he released with his band Shylock. Throughout the 90s, L’Épée released five outstanding albums with his guitar trio Philharmonie, eventually expanding to a quartet with the addition of a drummer and Bernard Ros switching from third guitar to Chapman Stick, which gave the quartet a more incisive sound, but by the end of the 90s Philharmonie had run its course, and by 2002 L’Épée was at work on his next endeavor, the more rock-oriented Yang. The crew this time has been the same since Machines, with L’Épée handling guitars and synth, longtime drummer Volodia Brice, guitarist Laurent James, and bassist Nico Gomez, together creating a unique sound that at times could be considered something of a complex math-rock, at other times more in line with progressive rock, but always unpredictable and interesting. Like last time, the album is co-produced by L’Épée and Markus Reuter. The one thing that makes Designed for Disaster radically different than any previous Yang album is the inclusion of vocals and lyrics on five of the album’s twelve tracks, courtesy of guest singer Ayşe Cansu Tanrikulu. Her clear and angular voice often gives those tracks something of a Canterbury flavor (think Hatfield, or even Thinking Plague), with opener “Descendance” being a perfect example of the fusion of guitar complexities with female voice. On the heavier, near post-rock “Words,” the lyrics just seem to be a collection of random words in a variety of languages, with all of the members participating. Between the longer compositions, there are some shorter interludes that make for more interesting transitions between the numbers, and while one can recognize that one of L’Épée’s primary influences is Robert Fripp, nothing here really sounds like anything Fripp or Crimson has done before. The near-eleven minute “Migrations” is one of the album’s finest vocal pieces, a complex twist of intertwining guitar parts and shifting ideas as it proceeds along its path. All taken, Designed for Disaster stands as Yang’s strongest effort to date.
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