Wait – were that sheep? The wait is over, we have a new record by Yellow Eyes! The Skarstad brothers and their two fellow band members have given us new food for our ears and man, it is a fine, nine-course menu. But is this really Black Metal? Yes. No. It is both and much more. One thing it surely is: Epic and short.
We get nine tracks with a running time of 32 minutes. Compared to their last full-length, 2019’s Rare Field Ceiling (which had six tracks and nearly 46 minutes) than that seems short but there are still loads of things happening on Master’s Murmur! First of, we should say that this record is the first of two records that are conceptualized as siblings, even though they’re probably pretty different – this one is more likely to be the more diversified, eclectic one of the two. All band members contributed to it, but when reading the text on the band’s BC page, it seems as if the next one will be a more regular Yellow Eyes record.
Nevertheless, please do not underestimate this record. Master’s Murmur is based on many pillars but the two most obvious ones are surely a certain Dark Folk aspect and a Dungeon Synth appeal. Many of the ideas on display here can be placed in both categories and would make sense there. If one of the bands from the infamous Canterbury Scene of the 70s was to release a new record, it might sound somewhat like this. It is avantgardesque in the sense that almost anything goes. You have many songs with clean, acoustic guitar pickings throughout – for example ”Gold Door to Blindness”, where the six strings sounds almost like a spinet or a harpsichord and has a very classical touch to it. However, on this track you can also hear some white noise background sounds, that are also very significant and characteristic for the whole record, as they can already be heard in the opener ”Old Acclivity Dream” which is one of the shortest tracks on the record. Interestingly the other two tracks under three minutes, ”Garden Trick” and ”Irrlicht”, are both featuring the fantastic, atmospherically dense textures of Saxophone wizard Patrick Shiroishi!
Maybe one of the best examples of the whole record is ”Tremble Blue Morning” because it has so many things that signify the record: Some perfectly embedded field recordings (or at least it sounds like the record of real winds) in the background, some mellow synth lines, the hushed up screams alternating with whispers in the foreground, the grand instrumentation (which even seems to include some Southern Americans flutes), some minuscule drumming which still has the last “tick” and a soundscape that is in general vast, open and big. The record somehow sounds grand, brilliant and simply charming (or hauntingly charming?) and has a certain accessibility. It even has several Black Metal blastbeat attacks but they do not disturb the peace, they only seem like another facade of the bigger picture.
What is still unclear about the pair of records is whether this is a companion piece like the Neurosis and Tribes of Neurot records, where both records played simultaneously combined for the whole experience intended (just try to do it with Grace and Times of Grace and you will know what I mean) OR is it a duo of records intended to be individually but sharing a certain vibe like Panopticon’s The Scars of Man on the once Nameless Wilderness duo OR if the connection is the fact that both records were recorded at the same time like KEN mode’s last two records Void and NULL. However, the time we will have to wait to find out how both records are connected seems to be finite and man, I cannot wait to find out. Master’s Murmur is Dungeon Synth meets Avantgarde Folk meets Black Metal and as such, it is another example of how good musicians like Will, Sam, Alex and Michael really are. It is enticing and promising, yet also able to stand on its own feet and give us a great bunch of songs that are atmospherically dense and very well-balanced.
Oh by the wait, yes, ”Gold Door to Blindness” has field recordings throughout and one of these tracks are the sounds of sheep…. to be continued