16 Mar 2022 - Stephan
Thai-Beat | Glitterbeat Records | Release date: 04 Mar 2022
Life is short and there’s a sprawling abundance of interesting new music out there in the world. Following this fact there’s a natural agreement among the Veil of Sound staff that we only write about stuff we are genuinely invested in. Because who has time for scathing reviews and unneccessary negativity, when you could spread the word about something worthwhile instead? That being said, I must admit that even given the hypothetical case that the new album by Yīn Yīn sucked big time, I would probably still be tempted to sneak in this critique - just for the rare opportunity of possibly using some darn under-represented terms like “disco”, “Santa Esmeralda” or “Thai-beat”.
But first let me take a short step back! It has only been fairly recently that I discovered this Dutch band and their brilliant full-length debut The Rabbit That Hunts Tigers, which collected ethnic sounds, especially - but not exclusively - from Asian cultures, and connected them with that certain funky, psychedelic surf music vibe, which my generation calls tarantinoesque. Or in other words: Music nerds turning the natural sonic resources of the world into danceable rock music which oozes with coolness.
Yes, this formula sounds familiar. It’s indeed very reminiscent of Khruangbin. Yet since the Texan trio with the Thai name primarily works as the soundtrack for their bass player’s famous hip movements, Yīn Yīn had to find their own discerning trademarks and mostly turned to action. Action as in more stuff happening in their tracks, as well as in a cinematic action sense, best represented in the single “One Inch Punch”, which sported spoken word samples from Bruce Lee.
The Age Of Aquarius now continues right where The Rabbit… left off - which is meant quite literally, since the last track on the predecessor was called “Dis̄ Kô Dis̄ Kô” and took a surprising turn to an even more blatantly danceable and more electronic sound. And while all the other ingredients aren’t neglected in its favor, those highly club-compatible beats and all the bleeps on synthesizers in space now spread into most of the eight new world surf music tracks in at least some measure.
In Kill Bill Vol. 1, when Quentin Tarantino opened the Bride’s end boss sword fight against a Chinese-Japanese villain with the 70’s disco sound of Santa Esmeralda, he merged East and West in a similar way Yīn Yīn are doing it now in “Chong Wang”, where a Jackson 5-style instrumental is directly interwoven with East Asian melodies and percussion effects.
And this kind of fearless merging is practiced throughout the whole album. Carried by an absolutely pristine production Yīn Yīn are cadillac-cruising from Japan to India, from orient to occident and from the African to the North American desert - and all the different landscapes are reflected from the band’s sunglasses to a disco ball, scattering the light to laser beams, which travel back all around this dance floor Earth and beyond.
It’s a trip. And as such it may not be the most epic, wide or mind-altering one, like we are used from more bombastic, story-telling or psychedelic genres, but it flies by quicker than the laws of physics can explain.
I think the key to this ride being so enormously wholesome and fun is that its intention shines through so clearly. First and foremost this album is a labour of love, just pure love of music and the community music creates. And while their craft and sound successfully strive towards being very professional, you can still feel that Yīn Yīn aren’t taking themselves too serious. There’s just nothing getting in the way of the genuine joy, which The Age Of Aquarius is all about.
Undoubtly many people are having a hard time still enjoying music right now in these dire times of a lingering global pandemic and the looming absurd threat of WWIII. Well, who can blame them? Personally I use music to cope. And right now the humanist and escapist part in me both love Yīn Yīn to pieces. Thank you for this, guys!
Did I say “Thai-beat” yet?