There’s a whole world contained within Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. They’re a Noh-Wave prog collective, a black-and-white (and sometimes red) theatre company, an operatic psych cult, and the speculative prophets of humanity’s impending doom. Above it all, though, they’re a thunderous rock band, and on their third album, DIRT, they’re the heaviest they’ve ever been.
Though they’ve been an amorphous beast since they formed in 2010, DIRT follows the group’s most significant evolution in years. Now totally Toronto-based, they’ve added new singer Joanna Delos Reyes, guitarist Hiroki Tanaka and bassist Brandon Lim, who, along with the towering drums of leader/artist Alaska B, singer/theatre artist Ange Loft and keyboardist Brendan Swanson, turn the group into a driving engine of sound. Live, the band can be sprawling and theatrical or concise and visceral, filling the stage with noise, melody and cacophony.
DIRT is the band’s first album since 2013’s UZU, their second straight to be shortlisted for the Polaris Prize as one of the best Canadian albums of the year. But the gap between albums hasn’t been a hiatus. Instead, the group hunkered down in the studio composing the mostly-instrumental score to the DrinkBox Studios video game Severed, along with members of the Canadian-Filipina gong group Pantayo. They emerged with new elements to heighten and distort into their already far- reaching sound, which combines and tornadoes Asian diasporic and Indigenous influences and perspectives.
The Great Plague decimated European troubadours during the Middle Ages hand over fist. Music teetered on the verge of obscurity until 1977, when – as most historians will agree – punk-rock emerged from generations of malaise, sowing the seeds for malcontents to generate a burgeoning underground movement; an answer to the swagger of progressive rock, and the self-indulgent glam of disco.
Property belongs to this DIY vine that continues to grow beneath a soil tilled by an old guard not yet dead: the neo-polyamorous promoting ‘free love’ in the rear of a Tesco car park, and the impersonal glow of your tablet as you tap in to order a ‘Happy Meal’.
Historians tend to agree that the plague age never went away; they tend to agree that instead of buboes, the plague now holds residence in those short attention spans looking for a 1-minute fix.
Apes in China. Suffering fools. Hero husks. Medium institutes promoting just what you needed. Millennial skeletons in air vents. Sounds like a bad song, and perhaps it is.
Property has the arrogance, the demeanour and the ability to save no one. And they don’t want to.
YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN / Gentle Stranger / Property