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CD REVIEW: Yuganaut - This Musicship
By Alex Jasperse - 11/28/2006 - 11:23 AM EST

Artist: Band: Yuganaut
Album: This Musicship [2006]
Label: Block M Records
Genre: Free Jazz, Improvisational Jazz, Ambient, Experimental
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9.5/10
Songwriting Skills: 9/10
Performance Skill: 9/10
CD Review:

Music involves action and interaction. It has the ability to communicate, hint, allude, connote and refer not only beyond itself but also to itself. Whether or not the communication process is completely understood by all those involved, music allows for the messages to be particularized in the experience of the listener.

Yuganaut’s debut release, This Musicship, is a fascinating sonic exploration into the realms of free and ambient jazz. Inspired by one of the most important and still controversial figures of free jazz – Ornette Coleman – the freedom from the constraints of usual patterns is what allows Yuganaut to successfully communicate in a language all its own.

It’s formless, but not without an inner logic that ties it all together. The percussion and bass are in constant communication, continuously reacting to one another. Squeaks and squawks of elk calls and slide whistles are fully interwoven in tracks like Stimulus. With almost no ‘traditional’ jazz skills demonstrated, the absolutely engaging Time Cycle (drenched in turkey and duck calls) presents a fresh perspective in the world of sounds. The unique appeal of Yuganaut is this – because the band’s structure does not depend on traditional jazz skills and techniques, its sound requires the listener to judge unjudgementally.

Its free group improvising, quirky themes and solos are unpredictable, even on repeated listens. But tracks like Missing Limbs and Perspective manage somehow to be stunning each time. The spectacular depth to these compositions, such as mad scribbling sounds layered in space-like synth textures, allows listeners to take as much or as little away from it as they like. It incites a hunger to come back and explore for more.

As you approach the final tracks, the stimulating space-like sounds conjure up memories of Sun Ra’s cosmic sound explorations. Statement and Hymn for Roscoe are perhaps two of the best examples of this approach, because with a good pair of headphones on in a dark room, the temporary travel from all things earthly is spectacular. After spinning your imagination around for several minutes, Hymn for Roscoe returns to familiar musical grounds (with a lovely organ passage), that dissolves and reforms itself several times before leaving you all alone and silent.

This Musicship is an expression of three men – driven by an inspired and fearless abandon – who have come together to weave a sonic statement of utter brilliance. That being said, this is required listening for anyone wanting to gain a better understanding of The Shape of Jazz to Come – literally.

The Verdict:

For more information, please contact Yuganaut at

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