Album Review

Yost, Phil – “Touchwood’s Dream” – [North Star Records]

Grizzly Adam   5/6/2015   12-inch, Jazz

Yost, while he was recording did so out of the San Francisco bay area, and was a multi-instrumentalist, perhaps more consummate on the bass, and clearly original for jazz guitar, but sounds great on soprano sax and flute which he also plays here. He has two records on John Fahey’s label Takoma. This is his third and last record and is a solo effort making use of overdubbing (1970) to produce it, and was his only album to be self released. The moniker North Star was used by several different companies in several different countries, but no other music was released by Yost other than his own, when he made use of it. The original pressing is quite rare, with super poor but playable condition copies going for over $100 U.S. dollars, and average to better condition ones going for $500 and up. As for what this is that we have. This reprint differs from the original in several ways. Aside from the pasted album art on front and back, and from the lack of writing on the spine, it has altered graphics in several places. The North Star logo and name has been entirely removed, except for the label on the record where, also, the “S” has been inverted. It sounds as though it was created from an audio transfer from an original issue vinyl and then re-pressed back onto vinyl, the reasoning being that the audio in some places appears to not be entirely clean with some noise heard in some areas, leading me to think the audio did not come off of a set of master tracks. What I was able to learn about this reissue record was that it seems to have come from out of Europe somewhere, and appeared sometime in the beginning of this year. I am guessing that whoever produced the reissue simply could not find Yost or sufficient information to do so in order to obtain the tapes or the rights to officially redistribute his music, or simply were not up to that task, meaning I conclude this is bootleg. About Yost himself, information is very scarce. He appears to have never been credited as having had any involvement on anyone else’s record ever, I definitely do not think he had anything to do with Stargard’s “Nine Lives” album from 1982. Also, while the geography might initially suggest as much, the editorial writer for the San Jose Mercury Phil Yost who died last year was far too young to be this Phil Yost the musician.

A1) The leska tunes are drenched in echo and are quite sublime. Flute and bass really establish the planar depths of the musical field. It begins by establishing a chorus from which two different developments are made, first, it is followed by a strong movements of melody, and secondly, it is stretched all far out into distant note spaces which ends the track. A2) Yost dives downward for the deepest bass notes that can make sense. Flute hopping then unusual meandering and finds a trail only to exit and tongue flap and hop around meanwhile the bass sorta just plays passages and notes which blur into one another without sticking much, around the low to mid registers, finally finding the high register before quickly returning for the coda. Memory or nocturne by jazz conventions. A3) The only track with sax. A great deal of two string dyad picking, almost classical guitar. He knows how to make the sax do circles and enter and leave those whirlpools well. Not much bass really, mostly the same few accompaniment motions. Halfway through though the bass gets bowed and the guitar gets strummed heavily and it goes the way of some Syrian Iranian traditional music movements but develops some trippy tension which is resolved to end on a “creator has a master plan” wavelength. B1) Turned it over and holy shit. Striking of the tambourine. Echoed out chords with the melody overlaid live on both guitar and bass. Charlie Haden or French jazz pop of Gainsborough comes to mind. B2) Tiny bell or triangle. Arpeggio chords throughout reappear. Feeling out the space on the bass. Pharoah Sanders comes to mind or some of the more interesting contemporary folk stuff we add. Rattling ball bell or likely just moving a tambourine around gently. Flute comes in and the bass line quickly becomes established rather than exploratory. Some notes of bowed bass occasionally that fills out the sound, then comes to follow the direction of the music like a cello might usually be played. Dada Diogenes keeps wanting to chant “a love supreme, a love supreme.”

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