Review – “Pyramid Island / Parallel Beaches” – YlangYlang

pyramid island parallel beachesreviewed by Michael Thomas

Why do humans seem to innately crave a return to nature? What would a return to nature look like? Would it even be possible? What does nature have to offer us? Is it worth it? These and many more questions may come up while listening to Pyramid Island / Parallel Beaches, the latest recording from Montreal’s prolific YlangYlang.

Electronic explorations of natural settings are nothing new, but YlangYlang add something interesting into the equation — ambiguous song titles. These are the only clues to go on with this album, as it’s almost entirely instrumental (really just synths) except for the first and last song. Titles like “Sky climbing” and “Cool cave” suggest some beautiful, organic imagery, but songs like “Lushly bored” and “Possible tropical fun” suggest that hey, maybe a return to nature isn’t all fun and games.

Of course, this is all pure speculation, and is one of many ways of approaching this album. Pyramid Island / Parallel Beaches is an introspective trip, and it’s quite appropriate that this is the first release on the record label You can’t help but feel hypnotized/Vous ne pouvez pas m’empêcher de me sentir hypnotisé.

The aforementioned song with vocals begins the album, and it’s purely vocals that usher listeners in. Lots of “ahs” and lyrics involving the word “boy” conjure a kind of hypnosis, and from then on in—until closer “I like you (the moon),” is a synth-filled trip. Each song seems to have been named well in setting a mood. “Sky climbing” truly seems like music of ascent, filled with rattling and a bit of a sense of danger as to what lurks at the top. “Ubiquitous cushion of sea” begins with what music must sound like while submerged. “Sleepover” is thus far the only lullaby played entirely on a synthesizer.

While “Cool cave” and “Lushly bored” conclude after about a minute, “Phototropism days” and “Possible tropical fun” go on for six-plus minutes and leave plenty of room to breathe. The album ends on a sweet note, with the phrase “I like you” scattered through static-filled synths and some extramusical sounds. It seems almost like cheating to call an album a trip, but few albums will leave listeners in their own head like this one will.

Top Tracks: “Born Slippy”; “Possible tropical fun”

Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)

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