Pyramids of Yonaguni
Located just below the clear waters off Yonaguni Jima, an island near the southern tip of Japan’s Ryukyu archipelago about 120 kilometres off the eastern coast of Taiwan, is the mysterious Yonaguni Monument, a huge submerged stone structure believed to be the ruins of an ancient city sunk by an earthquake some 2,000 years ago. The largest edifice at the site is the Yonaguni Pyramid, a monolithic, stepped stone structure that towers from a depth of 25 metres.
The Yonaguni Monument – the remains of the fabled lost Pacific continent of Mu, a Japanese Atlantis swallowed up by the ocean thousands of years ago or just simply a natural rock formation? Human made or the work of nature? To this day, no one can quite agree upon its origin.
Pyramids of Yonaguni, the new, underwater themed EP by Perth’s very own instrumental art-rock sonic adventurers Yomi Ship pays homage to the ancient Yonaguni Monument in suitably adventurous fashion, even going so far as to expand the site’s legend with their plural “pyramids” by implying that “there could well be more than one pyramid if you went deep enough” as drummer Nick Osborne explained in a press statement. It’s a nice added touch for a collection of excitingly exploratory tracks that finds the youthful and talented trio pushing the envelope to deliver their most ambitious and enjoyable release to date.
Over the course of 27 minutes and seven tracks, Pyramids of Yonaguni incorporates impeccably composed and performed songs, weird synth sounds, noise samples and interludes plus two excellent bonus tracks – Pantathians and Zoombini, both of which were previously released as a double single; Under the Tree in the Cave. Pantathians is a monumental creation (see what I did there?) and a tour de force in amongst the band’s repertoire so far. Here, the band’s tried and tested musical devices – high grade musical proficiency, unorthodox time signatures, elaborate rhythms, deep melodic bass grooves, reverb drenched guitar lines – are all displayed in the best possible light, its multiple musical passages and dazzling rhythmic shifts all coming together in seamless fashion.
The other bonus EP track Zoombini is another great showcase for the band’s hugely impressive technical abilities, starting off sounding like an At The Drive-In freakout before dissolving into something akin to a stoned jam session between Ozric Tentacles and Tortoise in space – with phase pedals set on full. Clocking in at under two minutes, Count to 5 is the shortest track on the release and finds the band paying homage to the classic Dave Brubeck Quintet jazz standard Take 5 in sumptuous avant pop fashion, sounding not unlike something Stereolab might have conjured up back in their late nineties heyday with bubbling analogue synth sounds that dance between headphones. Both Kohaku River and Coelacanth moves the EP from its meditative, trance-like pace into rockier, heavier territory, full of serpentine time shifts and unexpected sonic twists and turns.
Being an EP with a strong sub-aquatic theme, there are obviously heavy references to the deep sea in among the tracks, none more so than on the mournful interlude track Exhumed, created for the purpose of transporting listeners to some sort of underwater grave in the mythical pyramids. It’s the EP’s most experimental track by far, an abstract, improvised noise passage high on mood, feedback and drones. Epic closing track Banish Dog Maching stretches out over almost seven riveting minutes, its multiple sections veering between genres, intensity and different dynamics, memorable riff cascading after memorable riff.
Given their tendency to swerve off into different musical landscapes – most times during the course of a single tune – it’s nigh on impossible to pin Yomi Ship’s music down to just one particular genre. The main thing that remains consistent with Yomi Ship is their effortless ability to craft weirdly beautiful music that captivates without ever falling back on the obvious, their innate skill as musicians and composers enabling them to discover new and interesting ways to dazzle and beguile with their gently perplexing sound. Only three releases into their nascent career and Yomi Ship are already proving themselves to be a beautiful, otherworldly vessel well worth boarding at your earliest convenience. Equal parts experimental and accessible, Pyramids Of Yonaguni is an outstanding collection that simply demands closer inspection and repeated plays.