By: Jake Murray
Yuri Gagarin | facebook | bandcamp | soundcloud |
Released on July 2, 2014 via Sulatron Records
It’s no secret that I’m quite the fan of “the remix” as “a thing”. I see great value in re-imagining and reinterpreting someone else’s or even your own work to uncover the elements that lay buried deep within and give them their own limelight. Sure, remixing has been a bit muddied and misunderstood by “the clubmix”, adding whatever horrible KICK SNARE KICK SNARE dance-club trash tropes are popular at the time to the song, thus turning it in to a veritable cash cow… but don’t let that put you off. Yuri Gagarin‘s latest release is an entire remix of a former release, taken by engineer Linus Andersson and twisted into a huge, sprawling non-stop space rock intergalactic tour-de-force.
Blasting off into ‘First Orbit’, no time is wasted in establishing the tone with a seemingly infinite, melodic guitar solo. Recurring melody lines tangle amidst explorative licks and improvisation, giving a sense of recurring theme that only becomes more apparent with every listen. Elements of the piece seem to return for the closing track ‘The Big Rip’, in fuzzy rhythm guitars bending between notes and lurching over themselves. It’s this melodic recurrence that also shines through the band’s and probably Andersson’s proficiency in musical arrangement or rearrangement.
‘Sonic Invasion’ is a gnarly propulsion akin to something from a Monster Magnet record or perhaps Spacemen 3. Focusing more on riffs this time the piece drives hard but never strays too far from the focus, as the main guitar stutters between dimensions with a deep tremolo effect atop phasers, phasers and more phasers. With everything swamped in all sorts of reverb and delay the track, nay the album, is a guitar tech’s wet dream and the ring modulation contorting behind everything is the cherry on the space-cake.
An interesting element that runs through ‘Sonic Invasion’ and ‘Za Kosmosom’ is the less common scales, that we might find more in eastern/asian cultures. ‘Za Kosmosom’ in particular feels less like a trip through space and more akin to being lost in the middle of the desert, tripping balls from dehydration and utter delirium. It’s as heavy and hazy as psych goes before trudging into doom territory, but it’s that preserved melodic element that keeps the focus throughout the record. It’s of course only a matter of time as well before the organ makes an appearance, and without stealing the focus, it rises with an element of almost release; enriching the track and adding an immersive depth and glue to the mix.
Finally, ‘The Big Rip’. If there was ever a reason to listen to this record, it is ‘The Big Rip’. For ten minutes this track just pummels its way through anything that might stand against it (your brain included). As driving as anything, rhythmically and musically engaging, impressive and awesome. Collating various ideas and elements that form this record, it’s this closing track that seems to embody everything Yuri Gagarin are going for. As mentioned earlier, it seems very deliberate that the record’s closer echoes the opening track, bookending the record and ensuring that once your turntable finishes spinning you will remember this album.
Yuri Gagarin are clearly aware of themselves and their music. To remix an entire album in an effort to improve is a bold move, but in this case the rework is so fucking good that I have absolutely no interest in listening to the original for fear that it will surely disappoint [in comparison]. Sure, this is not a record for everyone, as it can be perceived as repetitive, but that would be a surface criticism of a record that is all about the details. It would certainly be interesting to see how the group pursue their development from here, to create something more sonically diverse, but if that’s at the risk of losing the “journey” element to their music then I don’t want to hear it. Most certainly, it’s important that Yuri Gagarin & Linus Andersson maintain their professional relationship, for as space rock goes, as psych rock goes, as MUSIC goes, this just owns.