C. Spencer Yeh – Two Guitars (Intransitive)
A “proper” solo album from C. Spencer Yeh… finally? 1975 is being billed as a debut of Yeh’s, but regardless of what solo-type stuff he’s released in the past, this is a departure from his usual Burning Star Core sound. This is, um, weirder. And way more minimal. The track titles are either hyper-descriptive or giving just enough info to make your mouth water depending on your point of view. I’m in the latter. “Voice”, “Drone,” “Two Guitars,” that’s about as much as you’re gonna get from Yeh. But he’s being pretty straightforward about it. No mysteries as to what’s involved, just infinite mysteries as to what the fuck is going on.
The first half is alternating back-to-back “Drone” & “Voice” pieces, the drone ones being perhaps most similar to BXC material, just way more stripped down. Sustained piercing tones, just hanging in the air. “Voice” is some of the most engaging stuff on here, with Yeh’s vocals chopped up into discrete millisecond notes, patched together in a mind-bending glitch with almost no pattern or rhythm. But the best pieces on here are the couple of “Two Guitars” tracks. Absolutely amazing. Taking the stretched out tones from the “Drone” songs and adding a few more layers of rumble & grit but still keeping it totally bare, not one sound more than is necessary. The end of the record looks back to early avant garde electronics, the lo-fi scattered experiments that paved the way for today’s accessible niceties. Yeh burns through the weirdness like it’s his job, pounding away on echoing pianos and retro sci-fi effects. Unbelievably cool.
I haven’t heard a record like this in a while, and definitely not from anyone contemporary. Yeh is pushing for an old new drone noise, ignoring his bliss-obsessed colleagues and making something that requires more attention and contemplation. You need to try a little bit more with this one. And godDAMN it’s worth it.