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Yowie - Cryptooology

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Artist: Yowie

Album: Cryptooology

Label: Skin Graft

Review date: Jan. 11, 2005

Though the Yowie, Australia’s version of Bigfoot, is native only to the island continent, St. Louis has its own three-limbed variety of the hairy beast. This American Yowie, first sighted only three years ago, has been the genesis of numerous tales of mythical, real-life encounters, most of which seem to center upon the creature’s bizarre noise. Sightings have been centered in the Midwest, but no evidence has ever been brought forward to exhibit the spectacular qualities of Yowie until now. Cryptooology will allow people across the country, even the globe, a glimpse of Yowie in all of its hirsute, sharp-toothed complexity.

Yowie are the spastic, elastic-limbed progeny of the forefathers of prog, purveyors of a heady mix of energetic fervor and intelligent complexity. Cryptooology is as much a nod to the spaghetti-string guitars of Arab on Radar and visceral intricacy of Infection and Decline-era Flying Lutenbachers as it is to any prog outfits of decades past. Though Cryptooology is replete with storms of rapid-fire notes and musical gymnastics, Yowie don’t rely merely on their speed and dexterity. Shifting tempos and discordant rhythms create a fluid mooring upon which the seasick compositions sway, shifting in momentum and focus.

But, thankfully, Yowie aren’t a band that needs to be difficult. Whereas other prog-influenced outfits can feel a need to cram as much challenging music as they can into each song or segment, Yowie have no fear of a little repetition, or allowing more conventional (though still highly angular) bits of rock composition to gestate in the middle of a song’s stormy progression. What’s so dizzying about the trio is not what they play, but how they organize it; other bands can surely boast a higher degree of technical wizardry, but the skill with which Yowie arrange their songs is Cryptooology’s true asset. The dual guitars converse, volley, and wrestle, in languages both familiar and foreign, while the drums segue from tightly-punctuated timekeeping into a sprawling clamor and back again.

Rob Syers’ artwork for Cryptooology is rife with prehistoric animal-on-animal violence, but while Yowie certainly have an animalistic bent, full of blood and guts, the trio’s output is seems to owe more to intelligence and agility than brute force. Still, as with their Australian namesake, St. Louis’ Yowie is an entity of rather distinctive qualities, and while Yowie the band hasn’t quite reached the legendary stature of the Australian behemoth, Cryptooology is an accomplished hairy-legged stride in the right direction.

By Adam Strohm

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