London-based duo Yamachan make an immersive, transporting brand of ambient music that incorporates field recordings to become something more akin to sound art. Indeed, the band show an immense consideration for themes and meaning, the artistic vision extending as far as the location and timing of the recording process.
Written and recorded in a such a structure in the Southern French countryside, their latest release Stone House is very much a product of its surroundings. The album, out on Canigou Records, represents something of a sonic map of a very specific place, compromised of field recordings and live improvisations recorded at various positions within the building. “What we tried to depict in the music is a house with no solid walls,” explain the band, “where inside and outside blur into each other and the difference between intimacy and expanse is indeterminable.”
The thematic considerations extend to the processes involved with the artwork. Using cyanotype printing that was exposed to the sun in situ, the exterior of the tape is influenced by the surrounding environment in just the same way as the walls of the house, detailing just how complete a project Stone House represents.
The music itself is vivid and patient, possessing a slow spirit that mimics the natural rhythms of an organic environment. Tracks such as ‘Silhouette’ show a delicate lightness, the samples of chirping insects and church bells like life ongoing in the distance. Though the record is far more than bucolic countryside whimsy, single ‘Rose Gold Blue’ shows the true scope of the album. Here triumphant swells are punctuated with beats, and periodically become denatured and strange with an ominous foreboding.
The variation and experimentation continues. ‘Rain Dance’ has a lush, near primordial sparkle of life, bringing to mind the intricate soundscapes of Lejsovka & Freund, and follow-up ‘Après’ is like the precipitation called forth in the previous track. ‘Swim’ is altogether more classical and sweeping with its tidal ebb and flow, while the restrained ‘Room to Room’ has a shadowy quality that sets up the dark majesty of closer ‘Mistral’. The song could be said to represent the essence of Yamachan’s music, playful and shrouded in a certain mystery, darkness and light skittering across the canvas in an endless game of cat and mouse.
Stone House is out now via Canigou Records and you can get it from Bandcamp, including a lovely cassette edition.