Sunday, January 22, 2012

Yamantaka // Sonic Titan

Somewhere between meditation and metal lies this artsy Canadian act.
By Jenn Pelly , January 10, 2012
for Pitchfork.

One man's trash is an art-rock band's treasure, or so goes the 2007 origin story behind psych-opera collective Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. The group's core duo of drummer Alaska B and singer Ruby Kato Attwood studied fine arts at Montreal's Concordia University, where the band sprung from attempts to transform street garbage into "approximations of Eastern instruments."

On their recent self-made, self-titled album the duo draw inspiration from their respective Asian-Canadian upbringings as they "negotiate clashes between dominant cultures and those who are oppressed" by fusing Western and Eastern sounds. Like stoner-rock imaginings of Chinese opera and flower-child psychedelia, the music blends philosophies of Buddhism, meditation, and mantra with the band's love of extreme sounds like black metal, industrial, and noise. Their name, for example, pins a reference to the Buddhist deity Yamantaka with a song title from doom metal band Sleep's Dopesmoker.

"We would perform all kinds of violent acts on-stage," says Alaska, talking about early Yamantaka shows, which blended their Zen inclinations with brutal, Gwar-like theatrics. Ruby and Alaska winkingly dubbed their sound "Noh-wave," referencing No Wave and Noh, the classical form of Japanese musical drama.

Read the interview and hear more sound clips from Pitchfork.

BUY the digital CD from iTunes or the band's website here. (I just bought it myself!)


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