Album Review

Youngs, Richard & Wickham-smith, Simon – “5 Years ” – [Revolver]

angel   10/24/2006   A Library, CD


ARTIST: Richard Youngs & Simon Wickham-Smith
ALBUM: 5 Years

Noise-Experimental-Soundscapy music can be great. When it strikes you just right, it can be ridiculously awesome. That being said, it can and often does also suck. Rarely does it leave you feeling like you can take it or leave it. It’s like eating raw fish, or Geddy Lee’s singing voice – you’re either for it, or against it. You either love it or you hate it. There’s little middle ground. When it’s good, it’s good and doesn’t need a lot of explaining. When it’s pretentious and inaccessible, it’s retarded. When it’s both, which is rare, you have something akin to this effort by Richard Youngs and Simon Wickham-Smith. 5 Years. Five tracks on this CD, each named after a year. We have 2002 through 2006. First track is nine minutes long, remaining four are almost exactly ten minutes. All tracks are really two very different compositions taking up roughly equal length on each track. I assume we are to take this as representing the first and second halves of the year. Or, whatever. Songs abruptly change and become something else entirely midway through the track, which comes across as rather gimmicky. A competent but pretty pedestrian ambi-noise affair.

*-Track 1 starts off, managed to take a sonic snapshot of a mosquito buzzing in your ear when you just want to sleep. Quickly moves to soundtracky tension, plucking the same chords in anticipation of?’ Nothing. What sounds like a harpsichord constantly strumming the same two notes accompanied repetitive monosyllabic nasally humming building to a climax that never arrives. Instead, midway into the track, a pulse tone that sounds exactly like my morning alarm is used as a jarring segue, and the track becomes a new-agey spacey sound that is that is, well, quite lame. What sounds like synth punctuated by a BEEP BEEP BEEP for four minutes. This track had me at hello, then quickly lost me.
*-Track 2, nothing like the first. Glorified version of an eight-year-old twiddling the knobs on an FM receiver while his buddy runs a power sander over corduroy, while some hippies next door have a drum circle and play hackeysack. And again, almost exactly halfway through the song, it turns into something completely different but equally unappealing to your mom.
*-3 Track 3, Starts off kinda Queen Flash Gordon-y, but doesn’t go anywhere. Synth reverb endlessly, then part 2 of the track becomes a bouncy-ball metallic slinky falling all around that Escher picture of the impossible stairs. Plus some UFO-spacey BEEP-BOOP-BEEP sounds thrown in with a sense of ‘why the hell not, we need some spacey sounds here to round out our theme of capturing the latter half of the year 2004 in sound.’
*-Track 4, Meh. Chimes and such. Second part, more chimes with some synthy organs and guitar and more twirling the knob antics.
*-Track 5, First part sounds like snake charmer music if playing only two notes and heavily processed through a screen door. And the final chapter, the current final half of 2006 when we currently reside as of this review, is arguably the most ‘upbeat? of the tracks-within-tracks. Swimmy underwater dances-with-starfish kinda stuff.

you heard it 18 times on kfjc! most recently:
Max Level - KFJC says

noise-experimental-soundscapy music: love it.
raw fish: hate it. geddy lee's voice: hate it.


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