By Andy Schiaffino
Leeds musician Ten released his album Yukon Youth on the 31st of October, 2016. This pleasantly unreal combination of synthesizers, piano, guitar, natsounds, violin, clarinet and breezy percussion combines the often dreamy atmosphere of instrumental minimal music with the unsettling impatience of drones. The album combines the two into a neat package that flows smoothly from one track into the next.
Yukon Youth begins with AE&VZ; an ambient wall of sound, reminiscent of the lulling serenity of Stars Of The Lid. This ten minute long droney masterpiece will leave you in a beautiful daze, leading gently into the second track, FB.
FB initially starts with field recordings, including the comforting sound of birds chirping and what sounds like the familiarity of the start of a vinyl record, rotating away. These natsounds continue for almost the entire song, and play alongside drones and soft clarinet. FB dances around your ears with a twisting path of sound, and ends much too soon, ceasing in the natsounds growing louder and the drones quieting.
CA, the third track, begins with delayed and heavily distorted guitar, complimented by natsounds, and eventually, strings. The emotion of this track takes on a more foreboding and even frustrated feeling as opposed to the calmness of the previous two tracks.
DP begins with a sound of fast-moving air, whipping past your ears. This is merged with droning that returns to the album’s soothing roots with a mesh of cymbal-like soft noise and a mix of complementary “streams” of drone. These streams top off a base droning track that sets the ethereal mood of the song. It ends with the same wind-type sound as the beginning, but it chugs along until its eventual fading out into the next song, MM.
MM provokes a feeling of being submerged underwater, listening to a large ship being capsized alongside the presence of ethereal sounds. These sounds are both relaxing in nature yet seem so giant they could swallow you up in their muddy vastness.
The sixth track is similar to the pedal-heavy richness of Pygmalion-era Slowdive; Crazy For Love comes to mind when listening. Unmistakable swirling guitar starts this track out, growing richer and reverb-heavy, then ending suddenly and without warning. YN could easily be passed off as early 90s shoegaze-- minus the hazy vocals, of course.
The seventh track evokes the same desolate feeling CA does. Seemingly angry synth is shrouded by extremely airy layers of perhaps clarinet, matched by bass. This mysterious instrument sounds almost as if it could be vocals. The end seems to have a brief stint of tremolo-heavy guitar that furthers the stormy mood this track creates.
The final track on Yukon Youth, entitled YOYOYO, begins droney, accompanied by a sense of urgency created by a fast-paced but intermittent drumbeat. The layered drones eventually become the standalone focus of the track, evolving unpredictably, eventually concluding with a gradual fading out back into a submerged sound. This continues on for a few seconds and slowly fades away. The soft ending provides fantastic closure to the varied moods incited by this album.
Yukon Youth can be best described as a sometimes indistinguishable wall of sound that, at times, will lift you up and whisk you away into a daydream of honeyed synthesizer magic. When you are not being floated away, the album is sending you in the complete opposite direction, falling fast to the ground, heavy with suspense and anxiety. This album perfectly balances the two overwhelming moods that often dictate our lives.