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Yellow Swans / Grey Daturas - Copper/Silver

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Artist: Yellow Swans / Grey Daturas

Album: Copper/Silver

Label: Olde English Spelling Bee

Review date: Sep. 4, 2006

While the oughts haven’t exactly been short on heavy records, it’s been the more organic strands of noise/drone that have delivered the real haymakers. Where other records might take the top spot for the weightiest experimental onslaughts, there just hasn’t been enough blood and brain behind most of this decade’s so-called monumental long players. While the much lauded Sunn 0))) choose to shroud themselves in fog (both literally and figuratively) while offering up limp doomisms and Boris waste riffs in elaborate half-realized concepts, the lanes are clear for less theatrical efforts.

This double vinyl reissue of last year’s limited CD-R is finally available in a format worthy of the collaboration. This blend of slug rock by Australia’s Grey Daturas and Yellow Swans’ drone psych immolation has birthed a pretty hefty monster, something that ably straddles the barbed wire line between metal and haunting drifts of sound. By the time the opening 30-minute track has reached the double-digit mark, it already feels like a stone cold classic. Smoky guitar solos become slowly infused with raw voltage; crackling, submarine hull electronics warm the slow-handed melody in an almost cinematic style. I can picture a ragged Arc/Weld-era Neil young, guitar in hand, abandoning his car at the edge of tornado-riddled desert.

The closing track sounds like it was built on the job, the riff being written in concrete as it moves, leaving a hungrier, meaner composition. Musical muscle and tendon entwine as the guitar begins to tower; this is probably as close as Yellow Swans will ever get to a straightforward grind. There’s very little in the way of rhythm here, and when it does come, it’s either the barest black rustle (as on Silver’s “Three”) or a shattered collection of bangs (Copper’s b-side). These resonant depth charges set off shockwaves that leave other layers bobbing in their wake, swirls of driftwood blown miles apart.

With the album bookended by the least obscure pieces of music (two brick shithouse variants on doom metal), the other three tracks resemble Yellow Swans' more typical fuzzed-out output. Instead of feeling like faded detritus after the initial marathon, these seem to have been consciously selected to expand the album’s sound world. Taking an opposite stance to the relative structure elsewhere, all three surf between tuned experimentation and jam. Even in this mash of exposed wires and Ranaldo-esque guitar arcs, there’s a focus slipping between stiletto feedback and colliding fret-bends of possible melody. There’s self-determination in the stratum; the quartet moving as one mind with four tentacles.

By Scott McKeating

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