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Saturday, June 29, 2013

ALBUM REVIEW: DAVID YOW - Tonight You Look Like a Spider

DAVID YOW - Tonight You Look Like a Spider (Joyful Noise)

An unsettling but rewarding album of experimental pieces with a cinematic quality from the Jesus Lizard/Scratch Acid frontman.

Going into my first listen of David Yow's first solo album I knew that anything could happen, so I was prepared for what ever weirdness or aural assault he could muster. I went in KNOWING that my expectations would be defied and challenged, yet he threw such a curve ball that I was still caught off guard in the best possible way. The only other artist I can think of that broadsided me as much with such a radical twisting of preconceptions is Scott Walker.

It would have been easy for Yow to stick close to the abrasive noise rock of his former bands, Scratch Acid and Jesus Lizard. But instead he courageously walks away from that template and explores entirely unfamiliar territory. Tonight You Look Like a Spider is an often unsettling, mostly instrumental collection of experimental pieces. It has an avante garde cinematic quality to it, like the soundtrack to some unknown David Fincher movie. Or a warped Ennio Morricone soundtrack played on a turntable with a loose belt.

Yow made this album by himself over almost fifteen years as he learned ProTools, which sounds like the recipe for a bloated, self-indulgent mess. But he pulls it off wonderfully. The compositions and arrangements are deliberate and balanced. It's weird without sounding weird-for-weird's-sake. He doesn't play it for yucks or push unnecessarily into some "ain't this crazy shit?" zone. But there is some crazy shit here. There's oddly tuned piano tinkering, distorted voice bits, unidentifiable sounds that float in and out of pieces, shifting time signatures, and what I'm pretty sure if one of those cow moo tube toys that you turn upside down to get a moo, but greatly slowed down.

Other than "Roundhouse", which has hints of Jesus Lizards "Fly on the Wall" in the bassline, there's not much to directly identify Tonight You Look Like a Spider with Yow. A few parts remind me a bit of Resident's Third Reich and Roll or elements of Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel, but I also hear equal parts of Bernard Herrmann turned inside out or the above mentioned Morricone. Especially Morricone's Crime and Dissonance collection, which would make sense, since this album was once planned to come out on Mike Patton's Ipecac label.

David Yow has proven that he's a more complex artist than I gave him credit for. I was not expecting this to be an album that I would feel compelled to come back to multiple times, but it's bizarrely captivating. I'm hoping that he doesn't take so long for the next album.


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