Nathan Yell — Synchronized Stratification


Nathan Yell’s Synchronized Stratification is one of those unique cases when the sound of a one man project reaches the level of profoundness and manifoldness of that associated with jam bands. The album clearly draws inspiration from such diverse sources as Sunburned Hand of the Man or No-Neck Blues Band, grim psychedelia and electroacoustic improvisations of various kinds, and yet Yell settles his own ground.

Synchronized Stratification begins with a short piece Wild that unravels the dramatic structure of the album itself. It opens up with an energetic, sometimes even hasty mixture of an acoustic guitar and different percussions that leads into an introspective space in which all sounds become more timid. Wild and the following track Wild Creeping Thyme are the most light-hearted tracks of the album that mostly resemble Animal Collective, although in a very porous sort of way. Unlike AC, that sometimes overuses synthesizers leaving the whole track with no free space, Yell cares to let his music and his listeners take a deep breath. Moments of silence, myriads of them, sometimes microscopic, are present in every track. These slowdowns create a carnivalesque atmosphere that to a certain degree accompanies many avant-garde pieces, but that is a bit less tiresome. Think of Fred Frith for instance (one of the possible sources of inspiration for Yell).

The two remaining tracks, that last for almost half an hour, are full of various percussion effects, synthesizer patterns and a clear guitar twang sound (the acoustic guitar, being a rare guest in such music, sounds very intriguing on the album, especially at the end of Growing Down, when it starts to imitate flamenco-like movements). The whole assemblage of buzzes and squeaks does not turn into formless noise, it manages to operate according to the title of the album: different sounds occupy different levels of the sonic system that builds and crushes its own hierarchies, making them fluid.