Yob Song by Song: The Illusion of Motion

I used to be unhappy. I used to wonder, ‘what does obey the riff really mean?’ Thanks to The Illusion of Motion, know I now. Now I am happy. Now I am doomed.

The Illusion of Motion is slow, often dissonant, unfriendly on the ear as it scrapes along, and confrontational through the extremities that it presents; the average bpm is under a beat per second, the guitars are tuned to Drop A, the chords are slurred, and it seems to slow down as it rumbles on. Individually these characteristics can be found in many Yob songs, but here they have all been combined, and at 26 minutes and ten seconds, this melding has taken placed within Yob’s longest song.

Whilst wondering why this album was named after this particular song, I found myself thinking that maybe, at over 20 minutes long, this song is an illusion of motion in its form. There are a couple of problems with this idea. Firstly, I doubt this would have been Yob’s thought process – it seems a bit self–defeating. Secondly, this form and this repetition become part of this song’s strength; as is the case with nearly all Yob songs, it feels as though these lengths are not played for their own sake, but because these lengths are needed for Scheidt, Sato and Foster to play all that needs to be played, and for Scheidt, the main song writer, to channel all that he needs to say. Infinite Jest is over 1100 pages long (shut up, it’s great) because that’s how long David Foster Wallace thought it needed to be to tell the story that it does. Thirdly, and more explicitly, this title refers to, you guessed it, organised religion, though through a decidedly more philosophical angle this time round;

Try to climb the human walls
Tear them down and see what remains
Emptied of the embattled false
Will to resist disappears
Emptied of half truths taught from birth
With the dawn of emptiness

The lyrics confront the idea of getting what we want but not being happy; that’s why it’s called The Illusion of Motion. This brings its confrontational properties back to the fore; at 19.40 (yes, that’s minutes and seconds, not the year) a sudden burst of speed drags the track into a whirling, feedback–heavy skronk–out.

As an album, The Illusion of Motion is the first album where Yob began to write big, sad songs, and is more expansive than previous album Catharsis, which remains relatively straightforward within the oeuvre of Yob, and a sign of the slightly less doom–orientated and more particular approach of Yob’s next album, The Unreal Never Lived.

I used to be unhappy. I used to wonder, ‘what does obey the riff really mean?’ Thanks to The Illusion of Motion, and it’s big, sad songs, know I now. Now I am happy. Now I am doomed.

 

Riffs To Give You Sunburn: Spiral Shadow

Perfect weather for sludge metal, no?

Spiral Shadow emanates heat. Although this is true for most sludge metal (can you think of an icy–sounding sludge band?), Kylesa’s knack for melody, which, of their seven albums, they showcase most effectively on this one, puts a bit of pep in their sound that goes nicely with the sunshine. The Pimms of sludge metal, if you will.


 
Combine this warmth with a woozy quality – Kylesa clearly dig Pink Floyd and guitar pedals – and this album, despite sludge’s traditionally blown out sound, suggests a lot of space. The shimmery intro of Tired Climb leads into one of those riffs gives the << button a lot of use, and even at these cave–in moments, of which there are a couple throughout the album, this album feels expansive. This is coupled with tight song writing (only two songs run past four minutes) and a variety of styles; Cheating Synergy (the definition of the latter, neatly, being ‘the interaction of elements that when combined produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions’)[1] mixes punk, sludge and shredding. Crowded Road uses the Arabic scale. Don’t Look Back combines the cheery thunder of Torche with a Pixies vibe. To Forget sounds like a raga. If I knew a few more indie bands I might say Back and Forth sounds a bit indie [2]. The vocals vary throughout, from punk shout to sludge growl to Laura Pleasant’s cooing.

Point being, while it’s cool to spend an hour imaging you’re tromping through the desert with the Sandraiders and Ewoks and Dobby the Elf whilst spinning Dopesmoker, if you’re after something more akin to a collection of, well, songs, put Spiral Shadow on and enjoy that Pimms.

1. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/synergy

2. That’s a compliment.