“They’ve managed to transcend what might otherwise be an overwrought, over-thought art school ensemble, and created something that has depth and mystery and no little craft.” – Dara Higgins on Blind Yackety‘s debut LP Fences And Furnaces.
Blind Yackety are an ever evolving eight piece, they say, from Dublin, featuring a myriad of utterly inappropriate rock instruments: flute and the like. You know how it is these days. The danger of having eight people in the band is that you may miss the point, which is to write some tunes. In fact, that’s often the danger when there’s just one in the band. B.Y. do okay in this regard, and have created a sort of burlesque, a narrative, an album that fits together nicely, like an episodic, blackly comic foreign movie, or a suite or ornate rooms in a ramshackle hotel.
Early Days kicks off with a operachi romatico, haunted-funfair organ, before quickly running into Dissipate, a cerebral-pop number, with a slight jaunt, like a not-yet mature Lambchop. Whereas Black Rain is a Bunnymen piece left over from Ocean Rain, done by The Decemberists. It lurches through its acts and resolves with a repetition of the chorus, showcasing the marvellous lungs and vocals they posses. It’s theatrical, in an excellent way. They show they have the pipes to pull off the Red Army Choir bombast of Oh Nurse. The Black Moth is a dark waltz, skipping along behind mournful vocals. Glorious Day is like a Kabuki play going on in the back of a Galway Pub, a melding of styles.
The chameleonic style doesn’t always win, though. The title track starts off with some Irving Berlin piano chords, but, true to form, it doesn’t hang around in schmaltzville for long. The track, clocking in at 11 or so minutes, traverses the history of all music. All of it. And why not? They may be suffering from an idea vomiting-bug on this one, as one obtuse tangent meshes into another, and it feels as if, without the interpretive dance routine we clearly cannot see, we’re all missing something.
Blind Yackety sound as if they’ve recorded the album live in a big room in an old house. The drums and bass have a spacious reverby vibe to them, but occasionally some definition is lost. However, they use all their musicians adroitly, everyone fitting nicely into the sound, a sum of parts. They create space between the tracks, using found sound and collages, or just the bellows of an accordion. It adds to the sense of theatre they enjoy creating, making locations out of sounds, building up little dramas. Throw in the mysterious and striking album cover, a naked woman with a deer’s head, and you have a great debut record. They’ve managed to transcend what might otherwise be an overwrought, over-thought art school ensemble, and created something that has depth and mystery and no little craft. And let’s not forget that it takes some talent to make the flute acceptable listening, and they’ve done a great job there.