YAWNING MAN – “NOMADIC PURSUITS” (Cobraside Distribution)
FOUR AND A HALF OUT OF FIVE STARS (90%)
This album should win an award for being transcendentally amazing in spite of its cover art. Never mind, fuck me; I take that back. Nomadic Pursuits being so perfect in spite of that goofy Easter Island-inspired Geocities cartoon on the jacket is wholly representative of what makes it possible for us to even still be discussing Yawning Man today: they absolutely just don’t give a fuck about “success,” marketing, press releases, booking agents, publicity, or making the front of their record look cool; never fucking have, never fucking will. What other band has so wholly eschewed all trappings of Record Business over the course of their 25-year career that they have never, even to this day, toured the entire US? What other band has successfully launched such an innumerable horde of imitators-cum-millionaires, in fact likely influenced the progression of not just their own musical universe but indeed the fabled Rock World at general, all without ever having had sacrificed their integrity for the almighty dollar or breaking apart at the precipice of their egos?
This is only the third “official” Yawning Man release since the mid-1980s—and before 2005’s Rock Formations and 2007’s Pot Head, the band was essentially a myth to those not directly located in striking distance of the desert which birthed them—if you were seeking their material, your best bet was to befriend an old stoner and demand a dubbed cassette of your own. Much of this material, culled from the band’s widely circulated 80s demos, was released this year as The Birth of Sol. (Yes, it shreds.)
Nomadic Pursuits finds the trio—still comprised of original members Gary Arce (guitar,) Alfredo Hernandez (drums) and Mario Lalli (bass)—more stunningly powerful and hypnotic than ever, obviously deep in third-eye cosmic communion with each other, often casting off both sparse, stirring desert soundscape and pounding, interpolated rhythm in the space of a single composition and, for the majority of the album, filling far more sonic real estate than seems possible for just three players. There is no bullshit on this record—just seven strong songs laced with enough subliminal hooks to have you whistling Arce’s melodies in the shower a week after you finally put it down, free of every cliché vestige of “stoner”/”desert rock” or production tricks, the band essentially sonic shaman, beckoning you to immerse yourself fully, to flip the peregrina platter again, and again, and again…. There aren’t words to describe how refreshing a listening experience Nomadic Pursuits provides. Buy this record now—you’re on the fucking internet, aren’t you?