Ded Yellow Swans: An Introduction through Eulogy

In Features, Worldwide on March 26, 2010 at 9:36 am

As of the release of their newest album ‘Going Places’ [review to come] the Portland, Oregon noise duo Yellow Swans (aka Drowned Yellow Swans, Duh Yellow Swans, Ded Yellow Swans, Doorendoorslechte Yellow Swans etc) is no more. Since their inception in 2001 they have released only a few full length albums, but they are best known by the dozens CD-Rs, tapes, and limited releases which they have put out at a prolific rate.

Their music is self described as “a constantly evolving mass of psychedelic noise that is both physically arresting and psychically liberating… a powerful rendering of free rock, black electronics, and white light vibrations.” The thing about them that has constantly amazed me is the breadth of sounds they can create within a genre that many dismiss as ‘nothing but noise.’ Ranging from the darkest of bad trips to the brightest white noise and from long droning rhythms bordering on the formless to the refreshingly concrete sound of drum machines looped over themselves, the Yellow Swans experience feels simultaneously like an absurdist reinterpretation of an epic John Williams score and the the impact of a giant bag of candies emptied onto your head from the roof of a building.

Admittedly, the hits those candies deliver can be too painful and too far removed from the ‘normal’ music that we hear most of the time for some people to enjoy, but I encourage you to pick up noise music and Yellow Swans and savor them for a bit before dismissing them as nothing but painful. Go download some of their music, put it on your iPod, and next time you are going for a long walk put it on, and put it on loud. Yellow Swans, listened to at volume in a busy place tends to make me feel a sharp discontinuity between my mind and the rest of the world in a way that can only be described as equally disturbing and fascinating. Initially getting into the groove of their music, especially their dronier music from the last 3 or so years can take some time, but be patient and after a bit of time you will find yourself marveling at and following the hidden harmonies and patterns as they occasionally bubble to the surface and then get pulled back into the ocean of sound.

If you are looking to get acquainted with their music, be sure to sample both the old and the new, as their style has constantly evolved. In the earlier releases, drum machines which have been bent and looped so completely their own mothers would not recognize them were a frequent device, providing a backing of broken rhythms [see Police Eternity from ‘Bring the Neon War Home’ (2004)], whereas their newer releases have relied more on heavily distorted guitars and noise generating circuits to create a slower, more droning effect [see At all Ends from ‘At all Ends’ (2007)].

Yellow Swans had announced as long ago as 2008 that as soon as Going Places was released they would split to explore personal projects. Whether it was the pressure of producing a perfect goodbye, reluctance to split, or something else entirely, the split has been drawn out for over two years now in much the same way that their songs tend to slowly fade into droning noise for a while just before one final bang and a sudden stop.

Yellow Swans – Police Eternity by  middayprocrastination

Yellow Swans – Foiled by  middayprocrastination

Yellow Swans – At All Ends by  middayprocrastination

  1. […] 3, 2010 tags: Album Reviews, Noise Music, Yellow Swans by akalmbach About a week ago, when I posted about the end of noise duo Yellow Swans, I promised a review of their recently released farewell […]

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