The Space by Somali Yacht Club
22 Apr 2022
There was a time not so long ago that a declaration of my love for shoegaze would draw blank looks and perhaps the odd smirk from a Millenial who had never heard the bizarre term before. It seems however that in recent years the underground resurgence in this, originally early nineties, movement has been floating to the surface through the increased popularity of independent online publishing platforms like Bandcamp. For although shoegaze is perhaps not always the most commercially sensible direction for a band to take there has always been a love for the genre bubbling under and the changing commercial landscape of music has provided a platform for it and other more niche varieties to flourish globally.
This week's slew of new releases has brought with it the third studio effort from Ukraine's Somali Yacht Club. The Space comes four years after 2018's The Sea and at a time when the Ukrainian music scene is probably not flourishing. Despite this, the trio from Lviv have put together a solid 45 minutes of thought provoking, atmospheric, studies in sound that paint stunning landscapes in your mind as you listen.
Although the density of the guitars and the choices of vocal treatment undeniably point at a shoegaze influence the pace of the album and the compositional techniques employed are more from the post rock domain. Tracks range from 4 to 12 minutes and have irregular structures giving them a feeling of a short story rather than a song. The album opens powerful, heavy and slow with Silver. About as gentle a tune as you can play with that much distortion. The vocal melody is a little predictable but I can forgive that on an album that is so heavily focused on the instrumentation and composition. The voice itself however is beautifully fluid like a layer of watercolour washed over the canvas of music.
The albums second single, Pulsar, sets a slightly faster tempo with its opening riff. The lead guitar repeats an echoey motif over increasingly apprehensive drums that eventually build the tune in to its first explosion of noise. There are then several distinct portions of the track characterised by differing guitar techniques ranging from sparing single notes left to ring out over the backing drums to thick and heavy distortion pumping out a relentless marching rhythm.
A running theme in this bands style is the contrast between quiet gentle lowlands and powerful noise filled peaks. In Echo Of Direction the lighter portions are so sparing they almost open up in to a complete void at times if it weren't for the subtle electrical hum hiding in the background. As is expected the following sections than drench everything in layers of effects and drawn out distant vocals.
The Space closes with the epic Momentum that cannot be described in a few short sentences so you must go and listen. Just know that there will be highs and lows and a whole range of atmospheres and scenes set throughout its 12 and a half minutes.
If you want an album that is going to transform the world around you in to something entirely different then The Space is definately worth a listen. Somali Yacht Club have proved with this record that they are masters of setting mood and shaping environments with their interesting and engaging compositions and creative soundplay. This record addresses my love for guitar soaked shoegaze but it uses this style as a tool amongst many. Listeners will find psychedelia, metal guitars and post rock as well as other subtleties and nuances to be discovered deep in the musical journeys. Take a listen to The Space and let me know if you agree with my praise.