Every reader should know about Bjeima by now. He is the only person behind Yurei and Alfa Obscura, and he also did session bass for the recordings of Virus’ The Agent that Shapes the Desert. He has done more things in the past (and nowadays too), but those aforementioned are more than enough to re-introduce him.
Here we have Night Vision, the second album by his project Yurei, and let’s start by comparing it with the previous one, titled Working Class Demon, where I must admit that, while on first listens I felt the project had lost height, it’s been only to end up flying higher than ever with succesive listening sessions. The album is, overall, better than the first one. It doesn’t necessarily have just more, it’s just better. In fact, there is less music here, but I grant a bonus point for that in this work, as I felt the debut album was too long to keep the entire attention until the end, and I can see some listeners feeling some songs were too similar. Of course, if I browse song by song, I find some of my favourite songs by Yurei still reside in the debut album (like Vendetta, Velvet Demon), but some others are here (Reborn in Reveries, The Cognitive Crack, Dali By Night), and the reduced length of the album makes it more listenable, which may help others who find this kind of music more an acquired taste. I repeat, this album is not something you’ll easily digest the first time and absolutely adore it the very first moment, but neither was the first one. In fact, I’d say this one has catchier songs (better said songs than riffs, in fact), and more catchy moments per hour, despite the reduced length and less number of songs; also despite the more prog feel of the songs, making some riffs and progressions seem harder to follow but also smarter. And while it’s not by far a wanker prog rock work, it has indeed smartness and progression sometimes (or most of the time, depending on the song’s intention I guess), and it’s a new quality that suits better than expected this mix of lounge ambience plus dissonant/noise rock plus crooner song plus metal.
Ah, the metal. The promo sheet said this album departed even further from metal. I say GODS NO, the only thing that departs from metal here is the guitar sound, with a total lack of distortion for the entirety of the disc-spinning. No, there’s even more metal now than ever in Yurei, and I can justify it by mentioning the double kick drums in Diminished Disciple and the fast beats (even the blastbeat!) in Dali by Night, which are of course the only metal things in that song because it has such a wide array of resources that calling it metal is as lacking as calling it pop rock. But anyway, I still can feel the presence of metal in this fairly unmetal recording, even the more proggy parts sound like a prog metal band into a bad LSD trip full of paranoia and exhaustion, just trascending the heaviness into a new kind of simplified, heavy weirdness where both the rythm patterns and (dissonant) note progression go hand in hand into the genesis of a greater thing called the expression of Bjeima’s (probably a bit warped) mind’s darkest, weirdest and, probably, autist-est corners. Oh and I mean that as a good thing. I can’t help but imagine him in an autist attitude, facing a corner in a room, singing-mumbling these tunes to himself. That’s of course not appealing at all, and I don’t even think he is that way of course, but I mean that the power this music wields on me, inducing on me imaginations of all sorts of strange new mental pathologies and/or states of consciousness is great and that it makes me feel at home in a way that is, at the same time, not at all being at home. Going back to the comparison between both albums, that sensation is, in fact, back; as the debut album already took me to the furthest of places inside my own psyche, even to darker places which I didn’t enjoy as much (yeah, I didn’t like Suicide Sitcom that much, despite the great title), but this Night Vision does the trick with less effort and makes me more comfortable going that far. I think part of the cause for that is the partly simplified songwriting, which is just more effective, so it’s just not less complicated (on the contrary), only more minimalistic.
Oh let’s talk a bit of musicianship. I have to praise the drumming in this album. Why? It is oh so sublime. Just listen to, for example, Sleepwalkers in Love, a part unsettling, part romantic loungey song of drums/bass/piano/vocals. The drums are played in full style and exquisite taste but not wanting to protrude too much in the mix. I’d say that’s an example of how everything is performed in the album, which deserves even a bit more praise by the fact that, again, only one person is responsible for everything in it, every instrument played and also the composition of every note. Also it serves as an explanation for the finesse with which the riffs have been crafted. Each individual note seems fine tuned to create the most out of Bjeima’s imagery while playing the least of sounds needed to accomplish that task. That’s where I mention minimalism before and that’s what I meant (this point in particular reminded me, some times, of the good old eighties King Crimson like i.e. the opening song on Beat, only telling a completely different, much weirder story). That, combined with the lack of distortion; Yurei really doesn’t need it, it can deliver a blastbeat with full potential without the need of making a lot of noise, and afterwards create an über-tense atmosphere with only a clean guitar and a subtle fx on a vocal line (I’m talking about Dali By Night again, which has another cool title). Also, the doses on bass notes may be higher than other instruments to achieve the goal, seeing how Bjeima has recorded some very interesting lines that are full of colors, but never do they go over the top; the foundations of this ensemble are very solid, you see.
So, Bjeima knows about the exact dose I need to take my mind to higher planes where the Sun shines darker and the rainbow is an amalgamation of rotten purple to radioactive green tones. With some oniric amber in between.
If you, dear reader, feel that this extensive text on the album has shed very small light into how it sounds, I urge you to stream the first album somewhere and the samples available to this one, and then come back and re-read while you prepare for the release, which is very near at the time of writing this. Alternatively, you can check out the afore-linked review of the debut album, featured in this very site of yours. You may also, for the better option, buy the first one and then buy this one when it releases, Bjeima deserves it and I need people to support his work so he can release my fix sometime in the future.
Have I said yet that The Cognitive Crack is the new Hard Rock Noir sensation? Well it is. Take it to Eurovision next year, Norway, kthxbye.
Release: 29 October 2012
Avantgenre: Lounge-Hard Rock Noir
Official site: http://soundcloud.com/bjeima
Review online since: 11.10.2012 / 12:18:08
01 – Insomniac Bug Hunt