Friday, February 24, 2012

Yair Yona

It's interesting how the genre of "American primitive" has become so in point, Yair Yona, who follows Fahey, Basho, Kottke in many ways, but interjects interesting elements of his own Middle Eastern background. I reviewed his latest in Dusted today.

Yair Yona
World Behind Curtains
Strange Attractors Audio House

Two years ago, reviewing Yair Yona’s first album of Takoma-style finger picking with Middle Eastern elements, Bill Meyer said that he hoped that the young Israeli guitarist would someday “get further past his influences and, like Basho-Junghans, into a sound that is completely his own.” With World Behind Curtains, Yona is still wearing his influences on his sleeve (literally: the sleeve notes reference Bert Jansch, Glenn Jones, Leo Kottke, Robbie Basho and Kelly Joe Phelps), yet he has indeed moved along. His sound on this second album shows a deep affection for, and knowledge of, the American Primitive tradition, yet it is less confined by this tradition — less confined, even, by its instrument. World Without Curtains is, in some ways, like James Blackshaw’s last couple of albums, a document of a skilled guitar player in the process of turning himself into a composer, conductor and arranger.

Only the first track of World Behind Curtains showcases Yona alone. The very Blackshaw-esque “Expatriates” is a stirring exploration of the 12-string, its plaintive melody surrounded by shimmering curtains of overtones. A howl of feedback erupts halfway through the piece, shattering its placidity and injecting an unexpected violence into the exercise. “Bella,” at the album’s end, adds a piano to Yona’s restrained acoustic picking, the two instruments intersecting and answering each other, but most of all leaving space. The quiet between chords and picked melodies speaks in this piece almost as much as the notes themselves.


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