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Yeti - The Man with the Lamp

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Artist: Yeti

Album: The Man with the Lamp

Label: Little Mafia

Review date: Mar. 20, 2006

This limited-edition, one-sided LP is perhaps the last release from Fort Worth's Yeti, following the unfortunate passing away of keyboardist extraordinaire Doug Ferguson. There are rumors that the band may continue, but for now this beautiful release is a fitting tribute. The small image here doesn't do justice to the psychedelic screenprinting on the B side.

The fact that Yeti's name is rendered in a clear rip-off of the Yes logo will correctly lead you to the conclusion that the band's got its prog on, but thankfully not in any Yes-type way. The single, extended song here moves through several passages, most of them heavy like a truck. The foursome get lost in some stoned-brain jams, then suddenly careen into intricate moves and perfectly synchronized changes, but not in any ├╝ber-technical "look at us" way. It's all steps in a journey, and when they hit the gas pedal, it's into outer space with a goddamn killer groove.

Ferguson's synths and Mellotron are usually the focus, and as I can attest from jamming with him, he was a master. Whether it's whooshing synths, warbling Mellotron, or keyboards a la ELP, it's stellar work. But this isn't to say that the other three don't pull their weight. Eric Harris' guitar is essential, both in the crunching, heavy fuzz jams and in the Mahavishnu-inspired portions. Tommy Atkins on bass and Jon Teague on drums, like any prog-related rhythm section, have to be precise, and keep the framework together, without getting bogged down into technicalities.

Yeti existed at the nexus of heavy rock (Neurosis, Tarantula Hawk), heavy psych (SubArachnoid Space, Bardo Pond), and new prog (of which there is precious little over which to get excited). Throw in some obvious debts to Sun Ra and fusion Miles Davis, and you have an utterly unique band. It'll be damn hard to find a lead keyboardist like Ferguson if the band does continue, but if they succeed, there'll be a number of us waiting for the results. In the meantime, as this is a limited edition, you'd be wise to move fast.

By Mason Jones

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