Bear The Mammoth – Yamadori (2014)


So good..!
So good..!

Instrumental bands have a niche scene but it’s a growing one too. A lot of alternative/indie, post-rock and progressive bands are dabbling, sharing the stage, touring together and often signed to the same labels as instrumental bands. Largely thanks to some serious ground breaking by the infamous ‘explosions in the sky’ to name one such band (go google it later) this stuff is gaining exposure and earning new followers!
So here’s one such artist from Melbourne who have just dropped their first full length titled ‘Yamadori’. (Japanese word for a small wild tree like a bonsai)
Here’s my breakdown from the first listen through. It’s 6 tracks but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is a short trip. Nup.

Track #1 ‘Cloverlea’ is an ambient intro that feels sort of spacey..until you hear the guitar slide up and down shifting in-and-out of its sustained note/feedback. Then I realised it was a guitar and not some keyboard/synth thing..very clever.

Drums come in and it’s track #2 ‘What’s Yours Was Mine Is Never Leaving’ and it’s more of that roomy/reverby guitar stuff until the bass comes in all dirty and carrying rhythm and melody with it. I’m hooked at this point. At around the 3 minute mark things turn sort of dark and the guitars start strumming instead of picking and the drumming gets a little Tool-ish. Not in complexity..but in feel. Rhythms continue, band follows, pattern builds momentum and this is getting all kinds of wonderful!
Now an interesting thing occurs at about the 5 minute mark. It seems the band has stopped and then there’s a 4-count on the hi hats and they start up again but with what sounds like a whole different song. A proggy one. A nearly 8 minute journey ends with a high and a bit of a surprise. Did not see that coming.

Track #3 ‘The Bonding Leech’ plays with some nice delays on the guitar to start. Great with headphones btw. Drums and Bass enter the fray and it’s tight syncopated stuff, very cool and rhythmic. This track has a much more immediate and instantly likeable feeling to it. Could easily find it’s way onto a sound track for an indie film…that sort of thing. It winds back the energy at the 4 minute mark and begins the build up all again. Towards the end the guitars find the spotlight and the focus is on this cool lead-part that plays with delays and finds very emotive ground. Plus the gain is up a bit, the bass and drums are in full swing and it’s solid. Favourite track by a mile.

By this point in listening I’m feeling reminded of artists like ‘Because of Ghosts’, ‘Sleep Makes Waves’ and the obvious ‘Explosions in the Sky’ with all these beautiful guitar tones and effect laden notes ringing out in the background against interesting rhythms.

Track #4 ‘Glycine’ is back with familiar ambient tones and occasional booming blows from the drums. Very relaxed but honestly a bit boring…I was about to skip it..but at the half way point the snare rolls and bass juts back and it starts moving with a brooding kind of feel. I swear it’s the bass and drums that hold all this together and my attention along with it. So patience yields rewards..cos the next 3 1/2 minutes are freeking rad. Just…so good. Reminiscent of ‘Russian Circles’…super fun times. (You know you need to go google them after reading this right? Ok good.)

#5 ‘Heironymos Bosch’ is another straight into it track, thankfully leaving the ambient noodling for a while. This gets a little mathy and proggy again and I’m beginning to understand that they don’t go for the big heavy/loud dynamic but rather the busy riffing and contrasting sounds. Ironically this track gets about as heavy as you’ll hear on the album..and even then it’s just dramatic rather then heavy. Another standout track for me.

#6 ‘Molly’ is a 9 minute epic. It’s more of the same..beautiful music and melody played out over big build ups, slower quieter bits and a great wind down. Each wave or..I dunno..section gets it’s time and it’s got to be said once’s really well written music.

Summing it all up…
It’s a beautiful album with dynamic characteristics that reappear across the course of the 6 epic tracks. It all feels connected and like it belongs together. The mix lets it down a little at times when I really wanted the guitars up front and in my face…but they stayed buried or just too peripheral and never really come up out of the mix. But that’s about it for complaints. The sounds are all great, the performances are all brilliant. Muso’s will lap this up. If you have the patience then this will reward you big time

RIYL: Explosions In The Sky, Russian Circles, Lights and Motion, beautiful music, proggy music, guitars, delay pedals, reverb, music…feelings ha ha!


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