words by Dan Oberbruner
Back in February, the local band YLLA put out one of the year’s most promising releases via cassette tape and on their Bandcamp. The Backseas EP is challenging, heavy, sprawling and ultimately extremely rewarding. It’s like listening to the faint signal of a distant old-timey sci-fi radio show as loud as you can on a late night drive through the country, and it’s suitably unsettling considering that the group’s name is likely derived from a character who perceives telepathic signals from alien visitors in Ray Bradbury’s 1950 collection of short stories, The Martian Chronicles. The EP’s four tracks are alternatingly menacing and intriguing incorporating discordant, math-rock riffs and screaming between segments of subdued vocal melodies, horns, sound samples and soft, static-y feedback–often within the same song.
The group shares members with psychedelic blues-rock revivalists Calliope and the experimental acoustic jazz outfit Loup, and while the crossover of stylistic influences might be somewhat apparent upon close listening, the completeness of the Backseas EP’s compositions and production is unparalleled. Earlier this month, YLLA played a string of shows culminating in a final performance at the Riverwest Public House with Gauss and Brooklyn’s Trades. According to their Facebook page, this was the last show before their “autumnal hibernation.” Let’s hope they re-emerge before too long; it will be interesting to see how their sound develops on any forthcoming releases. In the meantime, you can catch Calliope at one of their upcoming shows and listen to the Backseas EP here.