Artist: Yawning Sons
Album: Sky Island
Label: Ripple Music
Release Date: 26/03/2021
Country: United States
The project is a collaborative effort between members of Yawning Man and Sons of Alpha Centauri that has put out a number of releases together. The project is Gary Arce (guitars), Marlon King (guitars and vocals), Nick Hannon (bass), Stevie B (drums), Kyle Hanson (drums) and Blake (effects). The album also features guest performances from Mario Lalli (Fatso Jetson, Desert Sessions), Scott Reeder (Kyuss, The Obssesed), Wendy Rae Fowler (QOTSA, Earthlings?) and Dandy Brown (Hermano, Orquesta del Desierto).
The project combines key elements of both bands to find a sweet spot between their unique styles. The result is an atmospheric and immersive blend of psychedelic/desert/surf rock. While Sons of Alpha Centauri may hail from the UK, the project’s overall sound and aesthetic definitely lean more towards that of Yawning Man, being very much of the Palm Desert scene. If you somehow aren’t familiar with this then I highly suggest digging deeper because you’ll find yourself going down a very deep rabbit hole. I suggest maybe starting with the Desert Sessions. I could write an entire article just about this topic, but this isn’t the time or place for that.
The album’s greatest strength is definitely its relaxed and calming atmosphere. There is something almost mystical about it, it transports you to a place of vast emptiness. For me it conjures up the feelings that one gets when spending time in the desert. There’s something about the North American desert that is unlike anywhere else I’ve been, it just has a very distinctive feel to it that’s hard to put into words and evokes emotions that one would have to experience to understand. The same can be said about this music, you really need to experience it to fully understand just what it is that makes it so special. Instrumentally speaking the album is impressive, yet somewhat minimalistic. What I mean by that is that none of the instrumentation is overly complex or technical and yet it remains captivating simply due to the song writing skill of the artists involved and their ability to create atmospheres that turn simplistic music into something uniquely beautiful. The same can again be said for the desert, minimalism is what makes it so captivating, every feature you do see comes across as that much more striking because it seems to important in the vastness; that same sentiment is captured here in audio form.
The minimalism resonates particularly with the album’s guitar work, which is definitely one of the album’s greatest strengths. It allows every note to be not only heard clearly but felt in full. The subtle reverb and distortion applied to the guitar work on the album gives it a very distinctive feeling and adds a lot of its psychedelic effect. Percussion wise we have the drum work which is definitely on the calmer side of things and is accompanied by over percussive elements that really add to the psych-based atmosphere on the album. The bass work on the album is definitely on the lower energy side of things but is crucial to the overall sound, padding out the whole release and adding a bit of groove to the mix.
As far as the vocals are concerned, I don’t think a better suited voice could be found to accompany this music. There is something soothing about Marlon King’s voice, as well as the volume and speed at which he sings. It allows it to hang in the air and linger along with the guitar work, adding to the album’s mystical sort of feeling. Wendy Rae Fowler’s vocals are a nice added touch to the album and give us a bit more diversity and range. Some of the best parts on the album in this regard are the harmonies that occur between them, as well as the layered or overlapping vocal segments.
Overall, I’m a fan of what the project has put together here. This is an album that needs to be experienced in full, not simply in segments and ideally while in a relaxed state of mind. Let it take you on a journey to the desert and help you get in touch with the feelings that the landscape evokes. If you are looking for higher energy, bouncy desert rock like Kyss this is definitely not the album for you. However, if you want something immersive and peaceful to unwind to then I highly suggest this release.
Listen to and order the album below:
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