Yawn – Materialism

Materialism Album Cover Art

Yawn – Materialism
Mindsweeper Records
Release Date: 18.02.22
Running Time: 37:31
Review by Dark Juan

My computer appears to not like Yawn. For nearly three weeks it has refused to play their album and has set my review list back somewhat. However, on this momentous day of a momentous week (Hodgson Biological-Warfare has proved himself a) to have a brain and to be able to actually solve problems and b) be able to do tricks and navigate seesaws and the like.  This took Mrs Dark Juan and myself somewhat by surprise, because although we are proud dog parents, we thought that if there was any coherent thought in his head, he’d explode like a viscera-filled piñata. He’s the dog equivalent of a fat, unpopular ginger kid who isn’t very bright and whose parents love him very much. Ron Weasley. Hodgson is a chubby dog version of Ron Weasley.

My pooter has decided to finally pull up its metaphorical big boy pants and play the fucking album, which is one that I have been looking forward to for some time, seeing as it is a record that contains a mere two minutes and one second of actual written music and thirty-five minutes plus of improvisational investigation by a bunch of clearly batshit and hyped-up on speed Norwegians and a man named Mike McCormick. This sounds like it could go one of two ways… Either some of the greatest stinky shite ever committed to tape by five pompous twats who don’t feel they need to write music because they feel they are too great, or five big-brained and even bigger-bollocked musical auteurs hell-bent on exploring the means and meaning of destruction via the medium of music…

It certainly can be described as a hell of a journey. Imagine the Power Electronics of Whitehouse melded with the Industrial capacity and insanity driven experimentation of Throbbing Gristle and the downtuned, hypertechnical, dour splendour of Meshuggah. That is an entirely insufficient description of the pyrotechnics and explosive sounds on “Materialism”. I am not going to describe individual tunes to you because that would not do the SLIGHTEST bit of justice to what I am listening to. This is a massive, 37-minute-long piece that flows and ebbs and explodes and stabs you and bites and destroys buildings with a single swipe. How the living fuck this bunch of demented Scandinavians have managed to do this without killing each other, the whole of Norway and half of Finland is beyond me. 

The record is stupendously unpredictable and has a febrile, teetering-on-the-brink-of-murderous-insanity quality and it screams between electronic washes of sound that morph into thunderheads of bass-driven roaring, to pumping, industrial drumbeats and 8 string guitars downtuned to C# that surely have destabilized the whole North Atlantic geological plate. Yawn are that heavy they are risking sinking Iceland. The island, not the supermarket.

The band are that cerebral that they had a conversation when discussing their music before recording a section called ‘Tokamak IV: Critical Mass’, where they wondered why they restricted their tonal language to the chromatic scale and divided everything into semitones. And then proceeded to record music in quartertones. Fucking quartertones. I have no fucking idea what a quartertone is, or indeed don’t understand any part of their conversation after them discussing the chromatic scale. All I know (and am indeed bothered about) is that Yawn sound dangerous. There is a predatory watchfulness and intense concentration about their music that is EXACTLY what hypertechnical and improvisational Metal should sound like, but Yawn are so much more than Metal alone. They are artists, auteurs, savants – people who should be professors of music theory. The sheer egregious talent this band collectively has is astounding. And even more incredibly, the music never overstays its welcome, even though it is improvisation throughout. There’s no relying on simple basslines or repeating patterns as filler, the music is like a biomech monster, all shining pistons and slimed tentacles, pulsing gently as it waits to strike at cyberprey in the shadows. Jazz fuses with oil-slicked Industrial as Technical Metal sparks against goose-stepping aggrotech and Power Electronics and drum and bass swirl and reconfigure the music constantly beneath your feet…

In short, this is one of the greatest albums I have ever heard. From a band that has only been together for two years. You’ve heard it here first – The Chronicles Of Manimal And Samara have some competition for the most important alternative band of the last ten years. And you all know just how much I revere TCOMAS. Yawn are THAT good.

Everything about “Materialism” is DIY, which makes their achievement even more remarkable. Everything is recorded in their own studio, the production is a collaboration between Oskar Johnsen Rydh (drums), Torfinn Lysne (guitar) and Mike McCormick (guitar / electronics) and the mix is done entirely by Oskar. Only the mastering is outsourced and the production and mix are out of this world. Everything is clean and pure and even the most esoteric of bassy, bowel-emptying electronic sludginess is easily heard. The mix is not cluttered in the slightest and I simply don’t understand how this is possible. By rights it should be a shitmixed mess because there is so much going on, but it is ultra-coherent throughout the record, even with guitars tuned to C# and the bass shaking the foundations of Hell (the Christian one, not the Norwegian conurbation).

So, then, if you want a listening experience that is as expansive as it is inventive, as visceral as it is technical and as savage as it is drop-dead gorgeous, then by fuck do we have the band for you. The listening experience is not unlike being picked up by a gorgeous member, impeccably dressed, of whichever sex you prefer in a long, polished limo, being transported to a factory site whilst fuelled by golden waves of mescaline, before being dragged out of it by heavily armed men in matt black body armour, force fed as much amphetamine as your heart can take and then being forced through the industrial clamour of packing lines and welding robots before having your life ended by having your head placed in a steel press and having the button pressed as your thoughts and your heart rate race out of control and you feel every thud and crash of massy hammers and machinery around you.

What a fucking record. Absolutely fucking jaw dropping. Listening to such music as this makes you realise just how shitty, talentless, tawdry, childish and unsexy the likes of Warrior Soul and their ilk truly are.

I now have a problem. I have a large backlog of reviews to get through and I have just listened to this meisterwerk back to back twice. I can’t listen to anything else today and review it objectively because even fucking Beethoven sounds shit compared to this. Yawn have ruined my plans for the afternoon. Thaaaaaanks, Yawn.

I have no more words. None. Nada.

The Patented Dark Juan Blood Splat Rating System (Det patenterte Dark Juan-systemet for blodsprut) appears to have found the soundtrack for its own personal apocalypse. It can be nothing less than a full 10/10 for a work that transcends mere music. Watch out, The Chronicles Of Manimal And Samara – this could be a contender for record of the year!

01. Cement III: Gobsmack
02. Cement III: Fall Out
03. Cement III: Restart, Reload, Rebuild
04. Chaos I: Artificial Superstition
05. Chaos I: Greed
06. Chaos I: ISM
07. Chaos I: Untelligence
08. Chaos I: Order
09. Lachrymator II: Lignite
10. Lachrymator II: Erebus & Terror
11. Lachrymator II: Tripwire
12. Lachrymator II: Unstoppable Force
13. Tokamak IV: Immovable Object
14. Tokamak IV: Critical Mass
15. Tokamak IV: Fluorescence & Entropy
16. Tokamak IV: Confluence

Torfinn Lysne – Guitar
Oskar Johnsen Rydh – Drums
Mike McCormick – Guitar/Electronics
Simen Wie – Bass
Tarjei Kjerland Lienig – Synthesizer


Yawn Promo Pic - Credit Emil Vestre
Credit: Emil Vestre

Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of ‘Dark Juan’ and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.

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