Yugen - Death By Water

(CD 2016, 42:20, Altrock ALT-053)

The tracks:
  1- Cinically correct(7:48)
  2- Undermurmur(1:31)
  3- Death By Water(5:06)
  4- Ten Years After(1:12)
  5- As It Was(4:58)
  6- Studio 9(2:36)
  7- As A Matter Of Breath(9:27)
  8- Drum'n'Stick(2:12)
  9- Der Schnee(6:05)
10- A House(1:25)

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Six years ago the Italian band Yugen released their last studio album Iridule, so the fans of this band, which was founded by former The Night Watch guitarist Francesco Zago, had to be patient for a while. Only the in 2012 released live album Mirrors was a sign of life from them. But the wait is over, because in the spring of 2016 they came up with Death By Water. So finally a new, albeit rather short, studio album is out for their fans to chase after.

On the band's fourth studio album Zago is surrounded by a large group of fellow musicians. Stefano Ferrian (8-strings guitar, tenor & alto sax, Chapman stick) is the most important of them. Zago himself also plays the Mellotron, next to the usual guitar parts. The other keyboard parts are done by Paolo "Ske" Botta. Finally worth mentioning are the two vocalists . However, Elaine Di Falco and Dalila Kayros are not just singers who sing the lyrics they were presented with. You'll have to know that they only sing words on three pieces and on the rest of the album they use their voices as musical instruments. They are doing this by yelling, screaming or whispering. This works perfectly for the some very experimental sounding compositions. Compositions which not only contain melodic progressive rock music, but also more chaotic kind of sounding musical parts. The more melodic parts can be heard for example on the title track, As It Was and A House. The chaotic parts move very much into the direction of RIO and Avant-garde, as you can hear on the first two tracks Cinically Correct and Undermurmur. Also on the German Der Schnee and very short instrumental Ten Years After. Those tracks show that Francesco is probably influenced by Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Thinking Plague. On some of those tracks the use of operatic vocals, saxophones and vibes in combination with electric guitars and keyboards move the music from time to time towards a musical style that could be labelled as Avantprog. For most of our readers, next to the earlier mentioned songs, these will be the most enjoyable pieces of music on Death By Water.

Stylistically Yugen continues to make what they have always done. A bulky and complex Avantprog. In short, Yugen takes the listener on another adventurous musical journey. Although the sound is essentially as we know it from Yugen, the fascination and the rich variety of these miraculous sounds are unbroken. Therefore for the fans it was certainly worth the six years wait. Recommended to the more experienced listener who enjoys most of all the albums by Frank Zappa, King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Thinking Plague.

*** Henri Strik (edited by Astrid de Ronde)

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