Dusted Reviews

Youngsbower - Relayer

today features
reviews charts
labels writers
info donate

Search by Artist

Sign up here to receive weekly updates from Dusted

email address

Recent Reviews

Dusted Reviews

Artist: Youngsbower

Album: Relayer

Label: VHF

Review date: Feb. 13, 2003

Trance-Inducing Audio Paintings

Following their 12" single release Site/Realm from eight years ago, Richard Youngs and Matthew Bower return with a longer, more contemplative release of duets. While the title's nod to that other band's infamous album may remain a mystery for some time to come, the childlike cover artwork (by Bower's 7-year-old daughter) perfectly matches the wonders within. I think of this as late-night brain candy, perhaps best heard on headphones while lying back in a beanbag studying the bumps on the ceiling and the shadows cast by the headlights of cars passing by outside.

These songs are mostly pocket-sized audio paintings, hanging in the air like raindrops frozen in mid-fall. "Moonlight Ice Rink," for example, glitters with murmuring sounds breaking their way through like bubbles from underwater. The sounds, percolating in stereo, could be the perfect accompaniment for a waking dream. "Stream Entrant" isn't quite so peaceful, but only because it's built on a fuzzy pulse, a heartbeat of distorted guitar over which odd little synthetic notes rise and fall. The out-of-sync nature of the rhythmic elements, surprisingly, only adds to the trance-inducing nature of the piece.

"Welding the Sea" is like being trapped in a music box sitting on the beach, a sunny-faced bit of optimism. Gently tinkling notes cascade while oceanic tidal sounds murmur and wash against the rocks. On the opposite side of the fence stands "Iridescent Hosedown," which is the only piece here that might possibly become annoying, with its tweeting, arpeggiated synthesizer notes. I found it to be strangely charming, a naive sort of simplistic synth usage that works somehow, surrounded by churning whooshes and clinkings.

"New Martian Sun Tunnel" draws most strongly from Bower's early Total releases, and in some ways even from Skullflower's spaciest moments. One of the longer tracks here, at just over five minutes, the cascade of guitar melds gorgeous flowing tones, delayed to infinity, over a crunchy, rubbery-sounding rhythmic flail. Hell, it's even got a slightly psychedelic lead, and it's beautiful. "Pink Sky Blossom" also mines a vein of quietly chugging psych-drone, based around a pinging beat like a steam engine fed through a flanger. In and around that, the duo weave a spell of buzzing, warbling sounds that I could concentrate on for hours.

The final piece, "Fly Like an Eagle," thankfully bears no resemblance to its namesake, though it is the album's longest piece, at a little over seven minutes. The name's similarity with the album's first track, "Eagle Like a Fly," links the two, and musically they do both begin and end the album with likeminded moods. Both are slightly spooky moonscapes of twitching, tinkling synthetic sounds, vaguely Eno-esque accretions of blips and beeps over buzzing background textures.

Zoning out to this album is all too easy, and while VHF's site mentions this being "summer top-down" music, I'd recommend against operating heavy machinery while this is playing.

By Mason Jones

Read More

View all articles by Mason Jones

Find out more about VHF

©2002-2011 Dusted Magazine. All Rights Reserved.