Released: 2012, Adversum
Reviewer: Metal-Rules.com UK Team
Having implied his artistic talents in his other works, notably The Ghost Conspiracy and Virus, Norwegian maestro Bjorge "Bjeima" Martinsen is back with his progressive one-man-band Yurei, to conduct an experiment of complete absurdity. The surrealistic Night Vision is the first record in a long time to blow my head off with scope, proficiency and originality, and has been rightly critically-acclaimed since its release in October 2012. It's also testament to the ability and dedication of one guy to take the listener's head on one journey of introspection, and their ears on another of expansiveness.
It's a big progressive cavern, inside which jazz and art-rock argue, and avant-garde makes an acquaintance of psychedelia. King Crimson and Rush crash into Jewish Klezmer and Mr Bungle, like particles inside the Hedron Collider. Bjeima's selective placement of his vocals gives full attention to syncopated riffs and modal melodies in the likes of 'Insomniac Bug Hunt' and 'Machinery', which, in their inability to sit still, leave me disorientated and completely unprepared for any sense of pitch or musical anticipation.
Time signatures and rhythms change at the quiver of an eyelash, and chromatic bass patterns of 'Dali By Night' are so restless, they make me feel like a frantic lost traveller without a map. The songs themselves are little slices of weirdness, but to judge them individually would be to short-change them. It's an album that needs to be assessed as a whole 'experience', and for what it affords the listener when all ten tracks are heard together.
No matter how many catchy hooks or anthemic build-ups you think you want to hear, Yurei has created something much subtler than that, which requires you to delve deeper to truly benefit from it. I have to admit, it's not a disc for everyone; when listening to something that isn't neatly boxed in verse-chorus style, or isn't aiming for any single genre, you have to suspend your natural inclinations towards familiarity, and replace them with intellectual appreciation of the artist's vision. But if you do this, you'll understand how sensational the album really is.
The lack of distortion in the guitars, while removing all trace of hard rock or metal to which many progressive fans are accustomed, heightens the eerie, 'nightmarish' nature of the music; it's a dark and delicious Danse Macabre for the lugholes, and one whose charms I've found are most effectively reaped by simply letting it wash over you in an impressionistic way.
Despite experimental dark-rock sometimes being difficult to access, I find Night Vision to be a work of amazing talent and uniqueness, and one that has emerged at a time when it's all-too-easy to slip into repetition when writing music.
It's evocative, ambiguous, and for the open-minded. If you're a fan of the kookier side of the creative bridge, and want to hear how one Nordic mastermind has married Lynch to Dali through your speakers, it's definitely worth checking out.
Review by Rhiannon Marley