Thursday, January 05, 2006


It's a bit crushing to think it's been 15 years since one of the most out-of-nowhere discoveries ever: Forced Exposure magazine's unearthing of Lake, a twisted double-LP masterpiece of spooky noise, splattering percussion, and psychotic yelps by a pair billed as "R!!!" and "S!!!." The R in "R!!!" stood for Richard Youngs, and in the subsequent decade and a half, he's built a towering stack of amazing records both with "S!!!" (Simon Wickham-Smith), by himself (try the dramatic minimalist classic Advent first if yer uninitiated), and with others. His oeuvre is staggeringly diverse, veering from guitar noise to piano plod to near-religious vocal meditations, but it's all connected by an haunting, center-of-the-brain intimacy.

Youngs' self-made resume is boggling enough, but he also has the distinction of being part of Jandek's first-ever backing band, along with his pal Alex Nielson. The pair had made a record before that historic surprise, and the follow-up, Partrick Rain Dance, is a stunner among stunners, a true feat that might be Youngs' best record yet. There's tons of amazing details and sounds here - scraping hiss, rolling multi-layered percussion, big fat synth chords, glitchy dot-matrix printer grinding, sheer piercing drone - but the true genius is how R. and A. make it all sound like one continous, wide-open world of sound. "Mountain" is a stunning forcefield of bowed cymbal and orbiting guitar, "Noatak Beacon" is a hypnotic seance of acapella moaning (Youngs has few peers in vocal experimentation), and "Chamber" is a nearly unprecedented noise-drum jam that sounds vaguely like Hendrix grafted siamese-twin like onto the head of Haino.

Apologies for the big file, but the mastery of Partrick Rain Dance is captured completely by the unbelievable "Music of the Last Sun," so I'm posting it below. Moving from tribal jamming with flute (?) to pure noise to gut-melting melodic chant to a rainstorm of dripping chimes, it's really unfathomable, an acheivement even Youngs himself will be hard-pressed to top.

RICHARD YOUNGS & ALEX NEILSON - "Music of the Last Sun" from Partrick Rain Dance


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