How long has it been? How many dynamics have shifted and stases endured since I last put audio to ear, fingers to keys to examine another missive from the underground? After countless culturally-appropriated spiritual journeys, this wanderer has returned from his travels with accounts of the outré and obscure; the first is Yellowhead’s 2016 album Life-Wasting Vest.
Now, a garment that purports to waste one’s life might not initially seem that desirable, but with a tagline like “a bundle of wasteworthy bass roaring, mid-range rustling and treble chirping,” I must admit my interest was piqued. Further examination of this article of clothing reveals the label, 56 Stuff, whose description is full of uplifting phrases such as “Life offers us a countless number of (…) ways to waste [our lives]. (…) Whatever is your own special choice, Yellowhead is here to support the idea.” It goes on, calling the item “a vest which makes the process of life wasting more effortless.” All this angst had me prepared for some ear-splitting harsh noise meditation, but, much to my surprise, this vest is cut from a wholly different cloth.
The fabric of Life-Wasting Vest is soft and inviting, exuding a care-free attitude that would be at home on the catwalk or the sidewalk. Designer Yellowhead shows a keen eye for detail by gently weaving quirky, jagged electronics sounds in and out of his instrumental works. Shrouded in subtlety and repetition, the ten tracks build through addition and subtraction of minor details and simple chord structures. “Cummuting with Lush” is a clear example, where a staccato synth line and clipped percussion carry the tune, accompanied by strategic placement of swells, warbling tones, and small stereo-panning motifs. The beats are often off-kilter and are the stand-out of the material, ranging from the glitchy as on “Weltschmerzdigest” and “Procrastinoccio” to the clever interplay of “Gran Truismo” and “Cabin Pressure.” All through the material, Yellowhead seems most adept when taking a percussive approach, using synths as another rhythmic element, whereas tracks like “Schnappscore” don’t reach the same levels of high fashion, yet still manage to remain enjoyable. Despite the hopeless description, Life-Wasting Vest’s light, flowy quality makes it quite fun to wear, and would feel at home in any nihilist fashionista’s wardrobe, though it might leave them wanting a whole look.