Audio Reviews
Remote Unelectrified Villages
by Yeveto
self-released (2011)
Remote Unelectrified Villages
9 / 10
Instrumental rock outfits bear a burden that groups with vocalists do not. They must use the tools at hand to tell a story in song, no human voice or lyrics providing a fixed point for an audience to reference. Local rock quartet Yeveto have mastered the art of telling a story without a storyteller on their new album Remote Unelectrified Villages.

Yeveto was formed to create a film score six years ago. Since then, they’ve surfaced periodically in the Baltimore music and arts underground with dark and powerful invocations of mood and atmosphere.

Guitarist Gregory Rago favors minimal repetition, creating hypnotic guitar lines that pulse and dance at the center of each track, knowing when to build and when to release. Keyboardist Russel De Ocampo has a wide repertoire of tones, from warm fuzzed-out Hammond organ to stately concert-hall grand piano. He always picks the best tone for a composition’s mood. Drummer Ben Hoffman is a nimble powerhouse, able to drive home the point of a particular riff while maintaining complex rhythms with a jazzman’s sensibility. Cellist Amy Cavanaugh adds another important layer, sometimes being the punctuation mark on a particularly epic passage, sometimes hanging mournfully in the air like the soundtrack to an Ingmar Bergman film, sometimes providing rhythm to bind the song structure.

Opening title track “Remote Unelectrified Villages” serves as a guided tour of the elements that will make up the rest of the record. Odd time signatures, guitar dueling with cello , bass synth pulses, various elements of orchestration combining to push forward while the technically sophisticated players keep the parts stately and unified, no showboating at the expense of the groove.

“Elephant Beaut” comes on seductively, building off a minimal pulse into a warm cello swell, the backbeat interlocking as the song builds slowly and surely for a few minutes before hitting the crescendo. Soon enough, we are on the other side of an echo-drenched breakdown, a dub reggae bass pulse pushing back against the forward momentum.

“The Hyena and Other Men” is a slow builder, moving at a deliberate pace before taking on the air of a tribal dance. The guitar solo towards the end of the track comes as a surprise, venturing a little out of the usual Yeveto schematic without being too jarring.

The elements employed throughout the record are reconfigured playfully on “Five Fives”, a track that comes off like film music composer Danny Elfman jamming with James Brown’s rhythm section. All the lessons of the three minute novelty instrumental single are employed by the group, the killer bridge only performed once, refusing to wear out its welcome.

“Paper Scissors” is reminiscent of Yeveto’s prior film soundtrack work at first, hypnotically building until the distorted guitar kicks in and the whole composition takes off, a storm at sea, the musical elements foaming and raging in the swell before gradually subsiding.

The title of “Cowboy Song” sets the scene fairly clearly, the soundtrack work of Ennio Morricone being evoked by the reverb-drenched guitar work and the moseying pace. Around the two minute mark, a stranger enters the picture and the tension begins to build to the inevitable showdown.

Music as carefully composed and intentionally atmospheric as this must be captured properly, and the album sounds absolutely gorgeous thanks to the ace production of Chris Freeland, each track feeling fresh and organic while still managing to retain the polish of a high-quality studio recording. Freeland’s years of playing drums in instrumental rock powerhouse Oxes have clearly taught him a thing or two about how to get this sort of thing on tape.

Yeveto’s Remote Unelectrified Villages is a collection of short aural films, each exploring a different aspect of what can be engaging and exciting about instrumental music. The listener is free to wander about and see how each track sounds, the group’s thoughtful labors producing a lasting six-part movement in music.

The album release show for Remote Unelectrified Villages will be held on Saturday, November 12th at the Wind-Up Space. Small Sur, Soft Cat, and Omoo Omoo will also perform.
Posted by: Tim Kabara

Audio Reviews (November 7th, 2011)