Release Date: Oct 20, 2009
Record label: Jagjaguwar
Genre(s): Rock, Alternative
Scottish composer and songwriter Richard Youngs has recorded all kinds of albums since 1990. Some have been solo efforts full of elliptical songs and poems; others have been sprawling extended compositions; some have been collaborations, while most have been entirely solo efforts where the composer plays everything. Youngs is one of the most quizzical, wildly adventurous, and mercurial artists on the independent scene and continues to be.
In the past, Richard Youngs has done lilting, perfect, folk melodies extended over 10 minutes, with sublimely expressive wordless singing, but it’s a surprise to see how minimal he’s made the music, for his latest record on Jagjaguwar. Over the six tracks, generally running to about six minutes apiece, Youngs accompanies his simple chants with sparse piano lines, and what sound like singing bowls, bells, and bowed cymbals. That said, most of these instruments are no louder than distant birdsong, while the 'real' accompaniment is an almost subliminal bass-line or two-chord organ part that hovers about the room, wraith-like (the clue’s in the click of the foot-pedal).
There's a lyric early on in Under Stellar Stream that neatly encapsulates the album's subtle hypnotism. "The shift-shapes still shifting like shift-shapes now," Richard Youngs sings over a droning see-saw of two-note organ and bass. On paper, the line seems trivial, an empty truism on the level of "it is what it is." But he repeats the words as if trying to penetrate them, creating something bigger than literal meaning.
In J.D. Salinger’s 1961 novel, Franny and Zooey, the former title character attempts to ceaselessly repeat the words to a simple prayer, hoping that after time they will eventually synchronize her internal psyche with the external peace of God. With a similar premise in mind, Scottish composer Richard Youngs, one of the most prolific and daring artists on the independent scene, composes his latest album, Under Stellar Stream.
Some days were just built for music like that of Richard Youngs. His newest release, Under Stellar Stream, slows your heartbeat and forces you into a slow-moving world of introspection and meditation. It’s his world, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t be yours also. Youngs has a storied career, collaborating with Jandek and members of Acid Mothers Temple.