Yowie “Syncromysticism” review

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SYNCHROMYSTICISM, by YOWIE (April 2017)
https://skingraftrecords.bandcamp.com/album/synchromysticism

Synchromysticism is the third album by St. Louis math-rock trio Yowie. I’ve always enjoyed this realm of music, inhabited by bands like Arab on Radar and Tera Melos (and even some contemporary Mike Watt projects). This album was intended as a deliberate effort on Yowie’s part, and is composed of mostly live takes in the studio. It breathes, surges, is violent, and subsides. I enjoy this kind of music whenever I stumble upon it; the cascading atonality and violent juxtapositions of rhythm stretch a listener’s imagination to depths that they didn’t know could be understood.

The songs on Synchromysticism each seem to function like a complex Rube Goldberg machine–one hit of the snare is a cog in a wheel that turns the next note on the guitar, setting off a necessary bass frequency just the right size to fit the thread in the apparatus of the next beat, and the next beat is triggered by the bass kick, etc., all within a half second.

The way “Ineffable Dolphin Communion” begins is completely fascinating, like a hand through wind chimes or a ripcord pull of a mower; they plant a seed of curiosity. Then, all at once, the band explodes again into that Rube Goldberg machine. “Mysterium Tremendum” folds together rhythms in a way that one could possibly say that some of this record is danceable (not only can they compose but they know how to swing!). On “Absurdly Ineffective Barricade,” Yowie elaborates and folds rhythms several more times, as if we’re indeed listening to the equivalent of a master origami artist manipulate a single piece of paper into a subverted soundtrack to our living nightmares of American life.

If you’re new to Yowie, or math rock, or trying, then you’re not going to want to listen to this album to relax. It’s plan-in-action music, it’s caffinated and eerie. I’ve found enjoyment in listening to this while trawling through the internet and social media, like a soundtrack to contemplating the fucked-up or irritating, and since I’m never going to stop doing that, it sounds like I’m going to be listening to Yowie and Synchromysticism for quite some time.

–Jonathan Hanson

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