To say the work of conceptual artists Ruby Kato Atwood and Alaska B is simply “stunning” or “beautiful” would be to undermine the high concept creativity of their art as Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. It would also inaccurately represent my feelings for the self-described noh wave art collective. The truth of the matter is, Yamantaka // Sonic Titan’s UZU is one of the most well thought out and conceptualized records to come out in as far as I can remember. Sure you could argue for bigger artists like Daft Punk, who spent years and millions of dollars sorting through ideas and arrangements that would once again inspire the digital generation; or Arcade Fire, whose Reflektor concept shimmered with wonderfully constructed songs, yet still felt like a disguised version of themselves.
These days though, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find bands that have such a complete and total grasp over who they are and what they are trying to convey. Bands like Yamantaka // Sonic Titan prove that DIY doesn’t have to always reference punk, garage, or “low budget.” Instead, they adopt the acronym in the truest sense of the form by creating their own instruments, composing their own material, and controlling every aspect of their work unapologetically and with complete immersion.
UZU’s piano driven finale, Saturn Returns is the collective’s latest offering, and a damn fine compliment to this cold and rainy day. It is here that Ruby Kato Atwood’s voice so solemnly recounts the destruction of a young woman’s home planet as she divides under the gravitational force from two of Saturn’s moons, so aptly conveyed in the song’s final minutes of sonic diffusion. The video was also directed by Atwood as well, in collaboration with Derrick Belcham.
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