Richard Youngs – Under Stellar Stream (Jagjaguwar) LP
Each Richard Youngs album seems to be guided by a particular set of rules or limitations. On Autumn Response, for instance, Youngs used hard disc editing to create a digital equivalent of the olde English round. Similarly, Under Stellar Stream is based around vocal repetition but instead of weaving dreamily overlapping patterns, it concentrates on stark, mantric insistence.
Things start unassumingly enough with the gorgeous “Broke Up by Night” but by track two (“All Day Monday and Tuesday”), the album’s overarching concept has become clear. Youngs’ voice – harsher and huskier than usual – repeats the title phrase every other line and by the song’s end, the effect is oddly harrowing.
“Cluster to a Star” lightens the mood considerably and throughout the rest of Under Stellar Stream, Youngs subtly refines the album’s core shamanistic lyrical structure, to stunning effect. The musical backings are lovely but tentative. It’s the voice of Richard Youngs that dominates here – cracked, melodious, insistent.
It’s hard to think of another artist who so successfully (not to say prolifically) manages to wrestle competing urges for simple beauty and iconoclastic confrontation. Youngs is unwavering in his devotion to whatever peculiar muse drives him. In a small but – to some of us – quite significant way, this unwavering devotion makes the world a better place to be.
Make your world a better place: buy Under Stellar Stream from Jagjaguwar.