Long Walk of the Navajo by Yawning ManRelease date: June 16, 2023
Label: Heavy Psych Sounds
Ok so it sounds like Yawning Man, and some bands try to sound like Yawning Man, even if they don’t even know they’re trying to sound like Yawning Man, and some bands do a reasonable job of sounding like Yawning Man, but only Yawning Man really nail sounding like Yawning Man at that deep, subtle, molecular level of slowly opening lotus flowers and third eyes and desert weed chakras or whatever. Anyway. Now the important thing to say here: Long Walk of the Navajo really, really sounds like Yawning Man being great at sounding even more like Yawning Man than ever. Really.
Having reviewed a few Yawning Man records before, I thought I could just leave this one for someone else… then I saw the track lengths. Contrasting a bit with previous releases with eight or something tracks, here we have just three, clocking in at 15 mins, 13 mins, and just-under-9 mins. A trivial point to start on, you might think, perhaps, but this really expands, even radicalises, the band’s sound. My father-in-law was in the car when I had this on, and was incredulously annoyed by it… why doesn’t it do anything?… it just goes round and round! …oh this bit again?? I suspect his response might’ve been the same for their shorter songs, but the length, and somehow the fact that he was trying to sleep, just exacerbated this. Of course, reports of this kind of annoyance might suggest that there might be much of interest to listeners with different orientation towards such sounds…
It’s not slow but unfolds slowly, it’s not actually doing nothing but it does have a calm, stoic demeanour to it that allows focus to gradually settle into this. Music as weather or the movement of the sun: sure, potentially boring, blank, irrelevant if your focus or expectations are elsewhere, but with the right perspective, it offers an appreciation of calm but awesome natural power. Bill Stinson’s supportive drum work and Billy Cordell’s easy-riding bass create a spacious and ever-moving frame for Gary Arce’s amazing guitar work that is never screaming for attention, instead just painting huge, colourful strokes across the sky of your tuned out/in consciousness. The album cover is fitting in this respect, hinting at the elemental force of the sounds through simple colours and shapes in the background, suggesting a sort of ascension from the earthily real to a visionary abstract that’s still grounded in the red dirt. Subtly extraordinary.