July 12th, 2011
(Le) Poisson Rouge
New York, NY
YOB is the Great Mystic of the Oregon territories, the topography of Oregon herself—rolling desert sands, sawtooth Pacific cliffs, penetrating black forests.
Everything is one and nothing stands alone.
YOB played New York City for the first time in as long as anybody could remember. Sightings of this great behemoth northwestern band are rare. They keep to the wilds of their homeland, venturing out among the territories only when necessary.
Do you have anything to say? I believe you do.
The band wasted no time in laying waste to its physical surroundings, as if to say, “everything you see here is a lie, we reconcile this divide between the real and the unreal with a new sonic language.”
They tore into their set with the pulsating, crushing “Quantum Mystic.” A flood of heavy thunder and ethereal intensity. The heavens opened wide and we all stepped in.
Quantum mystic arise
The unreal never lived
And the real does not ever die
Beyond all birth and death
The real is timeless
Open the shutter of the mind
And it will be flooded with light
More cathedral noise followed—sheets of metal, the constant reign of cymbals, a dense meteor storm of pounding low-end theory. “Grasping Air” crashed like waves and rocks and cliffs and everything else known and unknown. “Burning the Altar” was the red-hot electric rain itself, and the endless roots of thousand-year-old trees breaking through the surface. New doom monster “Prepare the Ground” was a barn scorcher with a creeping heavy undertow.
There is space in this intensely focused musical form. Open guitar strings ring wide and loose within chords, creating subtle tonal variations. A pleasing dissonance, sometimes hard to decipher, is always there in the undercurrent of the moving soundscapes.
This is music from the extreme western corner of the country, which informs its every nuanced howl. All big sky, sandstorm doom. Forests of azure and low-pressure systems. The sound of YOB spreads long and wide over the mountainous terrain and cannot be contained by the continental United States. It is like the dark cloud of an impending tempest that covers the whole landmass of the Americas.
Everything YOB attempted on this night was an offer of transformation. They approached their instruments with such intense commitment and focus, it was hard not to feel lucky to be in attendance, or even alive on this night. A path to, and through, the future. A burning new dawn.
YOB, the ancient song improvisers, has returned. There’s a new album on the horizon, which brings hope, and a continuation of the mission—spreading the good gospel of transcendental Oregon and opening a new non-reality.
Were we willing, or even able, to accept this most gracious gift?
If they are here to teach, we are here to listen.
YOB is building the New Sonic Jerusalem. Are you ready?
Graphic: YOB 2011 tour shirt