Wednesday, November 15, 2017
YOL - ON/OFF
Cassette. 75 copies
YOL - Hand of Glory
ON/OFF arrived with a disturbing hand written note from the man himself stating that the first track I will hear was an attempt to drive the audience from the venue by subjecting them to walls of hideous feedback, noise and trademark YOL screamed utterances. We must assume here that YOL is in the midsts of some kind of system purge. A cleansing act. An act of purification maybe? To purge himself of some unwanted inner id. He can do it of course. Make a noise I mean. When he wants to he can make some truly horrendous noise but on this occasion it wasn’t enough. It wouldn’t be would it. Only a few audience members decided to call it quits.
Without delving in to the ‘noise as entertainment’ dialogue too deeply its a well worn fact that some people are drawn to such things; head in bass bins at the Motorhead gig, sat on the bus with earbuds going full bore, hour long 90’s TNB sets. In the live situation the visceral thrill of actually feeling the noise is all part of the appeal and if part of that live situation just happens to involve a bald man from Hull screaming and stuttering, bent double, retching his very lungs out then all the better.
Except that YOL doesn’t have to go down this route. We know he can make a racket just by using the barest of equipment; eating forks, bits off a tractor, finger cymbals, chains, galvanized watering cans, with the most mundane of everyday items he can make some ridiculously painful noise. Its his delivery, his voice and his blacker than coal black humour that sets him apart.
Watching YOL live is like being in the same room as someone with deep psychological problems. Someone who is having problems with the neighbours and its been building for years and today just might be the day it all goes pop but instead I’ve come to this small gig space with a bag of junk and a contact mic and for your delectation I’ll deliver lines like ‘ITS SAD THAT NOBODY IS SINGING ABOUT STRAY DOGS AND GLUE SNIFFING ANYMORE’. As brought from the very pit of the stomach and deposited from the mouth with such venom, such ferocity that it makes you wince. And then you realize what he’s just said and you want to laugh. Oh shit, what do I do? Laugh? Wince? Leave the room? My emotions are all over the shop. What am I witnessing? Who is this man?
The YOL back catalogue is an ever growing one and as it grows our man in Hull looks for different ways to express himself. Hence the full on roar of ‘Just Fire’ and then after it the tape collage as background noise of ‘Two Dogs’. Thats the ‘ON’ side. ‘OFF’ is without power but no less effective, so we have YOL with scratchy violin on ‘Protest Wig’, ‘Faded Ghost Letters’ sees an acoustic guitar get the treatment. ‘Crazy Paving’ sounds like it was recorded on our squeaky back gate. Its still has the same effect on the listener. Be it all out noise or YOL with a mop bucket, the effect is still disorientating.
‘Hand of Glory’ [no its not a Ramleh tribute] sees YOL put an upright piano through its paces. The track is of course ‘Knees up’.
But its to YOL’s delivery and his observations writ large that we are drawn to. That strangulated scream, the silence that follows and the words he invokes;
TWO FAKE PLASTC ROTTWLEIERS GUARDING A STORAGE UNIT
ALWAYS KEEP A SPARK PLUG IN YOUR POCKET IN CASE SOMEONE INSULTS YOU FROM A PASSING CAR
On ‘Trachea’ he’s duetting with an out of control food processor and an unravelling five meter tape measure as he screams /growls/retches ‘I’M A SURGEON NOW’.
‘Knees Up’ is a live track with that piano and unknown squeaky things. YOL sings ‘AT THE END OF THE DAY THE BILLBOARD PROMISING SOUP IS LEAKING’ and you hear the faintest of titters and muffled laughter. As the keys tinkle randomly you hear laughter. Thats what keeps me coming back to YOL and why even after several years of self flagellation his work is still so damned rewarding.
Hand of Glory is seven tracks all done and dusted in less that 25 minutes. I’m thinking it could be YOL’s most complete release yet.
YOL - Bandcamp