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   YAKZUA
Way Of The Dead
2002
Century Media
http://www.yakuzadojo.com


rating: 5/5

1. Vergasso
2. Miami Device
3. Yama
4. Signal 2.42
5. T.M.S.
6. Chicago Typewriter
7. Obscurity
8. 01000011110011
Hearing the band's name for the first time one can easily take it for Japanese but the members of Yakuza actually come from Chicago. And by listening to their album any association to the regular and disciplined life of the Yakuza of Japan disappears completely, as there is anything but order and harmony in the music of this band. It does not even fit into the category of avantgarde because the first word that comes into my mind while the album is on, is the adjective "abstract".

Yakuza is one of those formations that expand the frames of all genres while it is trying to create its own world not caring about any kind of tradition or rules. Their attempt is successful although this is probably the reason why their music bounces off many people without any kind of impact on them. Let me just remark that this is merely the fault of the latter, because if the record seems too chaotic at first sight, it has in fact got real values underneath. Sure, I know that a lot of people dislike this kind of experimental music but isn't that just because they do not even have the patience to sit down and hear into it for real? Because these kinds of music demand attention, by superficial listening they would just sound like a mixture of disharmony.

The 70 minutes of "Way Of The Dead" have been divided into 8 parts in a rather unusual way. Seven songs make up 27 minutes while the last recording with its 43 minutes is in itself nearly a whole album. What is more is that this song named "01000011110011" is a jazzy, psychedelic, tripping piece with unfitting guitar-inserts here and there. This does not mean that one should think real guitar-solos into it, rather curiosities brought forth from the strings of an electric guitar. I am not a jazz expert so I would not try to do a professional analysis and evaluation of this song, but it certainly guarantees pleasant listening and relaxation provided one has 43 minutes to sit back and hear it in peace. Otherwise the influence of jazz is to be felt in every song thanks to the saxophone which appears again and again, giving a peculiar tone to every song.
"Vergasso" starts with the chanting of Tibetan priests, followed by the voice of the sax tearing into the "solo" of a snare-drum which is then accompanied again by the guitar so that the song itself may develop into a strong unity. The members of the band have actually chosen simple stoner rock music to be the base and made it crazier with the help of the alternative guitar sounding, the saxophone and the irregular structure of the songs. They have used effects several times to make the singer's voice similar to the style of noise groups. And in the last minute of the song the leading role is again possessed by the saxophone and Tibetan jingling discs. The vexed chaotism continues in "Miami Device" where we can also hear some growlings from Bruce Lamont. Towards the end of the noise-styled song the band slows down and the sax and the odd sounds of the guitar become predominant again. Our mood changes according to the alternating rhythms of the "Yama" and the aggression is replaced by a dizzy floatation/drifting. The enormous tunes of the refrain have been varied by hardcore-like ripping sounds and perhaps because of this antagonism it gets stuck in our mind even more. The barely two-minute "Signal 2.42" is also an instrumental recording in which the drum that is like a slow pulse, the guitar and the mixture of the other dissonant sounds create together a flawless psychedelic piece of music. "T.M.S." belongs again to the noisier, more chaotic songs with outstanding guitar and rhythm themes in it. There is a short drifting break just a few seconds long in the middle of the song which permits only a breath pause and the melodious, disharmonical music goes on again. "Chicago Typewriter" is another perfect example of this varied, mysterious musical world, its catching tunes and insanely rapid parts broken at some places by the sad voice of the saxophone "We are inspired by the tragedy of our personal lifes". An acoustical start sets off "Obscurity" in which the saxophone has the second leading role next to the bass guitar. They are used like if they were permanently responding to each other in the faster and slower parts. It is insane how they vary, how they "play" with the two different saxophones, exploiting what the istruments have to offer.
The tone of the album does not have a perfect clearness either, it induces a bit noisy, merged into, kind of "living" feeling, but that is exactly what goes with it and makes the whole thing perfect.

It is not very easy to take this album in but once you have delved deep into it, it will surely be a great experience to listen to it again and again. Sooner or later you will discover the order even in those songs that seem diverse and structurally unusual.

submitted by Katalin 02.06.2003

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