There’s always talk in the press of bands making the right noises. But what if the right sounds for one act are the wrong ones for a great many others? The Clash office tends to be a pretty balanced, harmonious place – one person plays their music, the next theirs, and so on. We laugh at some choices, discuss others at length. You get the picture: we deal in music coverage, so a lot of it goes on. But it’s rare that an album’s forced off inside of three songs.
Yet this is the fate that befell ‘Process’, the debut album from Brooklyn duo Yvette, aka Noah Kardos-Fein and Dale Eisinger. Not because it’s a terrible record, at all – it’s just that it’s not one that is going to immediately click with timid listeners, those whose highlights of the year so far include the release of a new Elbow LP and Jack White’s attention-seeking put-a-single-out-in-a-day scheme. And some of those people do, indeed, work at Clash. It’s okay though. We tend to not let them near the stereo.
The band’s dainty name masks a most pleasurably punishing racket, drawing from Suicide, Throbbing Gristle and more recent noise-rock-crossover acts like Black Dice and HEALTH. But ask the band about the latter similarity – truthfully, there are times when ‘Process’ plays like a HEALTH tribute LP (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing) – and Noah simply replies with a list of bands that they dig.
“HEALTH are solid. We also love Factory Floor, Sightings, Talk Normal, Guerilla Toss, Cloud Becomes Your Hand, Aa, White Suns, Oneida, Man Forever, Guardian Alien, Soft Circle, Alan Watts, Indian Jewelry, Clipd Beaks…”
We’ve checked – none of those are made up. But if you’re one of those Elbow people, you might be forgiven for assuming they were. If such a cascade of cornerstone influences and contemporary loves doesn’t reveal all that much about Yvette by process of information overload – apt, really, given the forcefulness of their music – then asking about how the pair writes material in the first place certainly does. As it’s just the two of them, presumably everything that’s achieved in the studio has to be committed to tape knowing it can be replicated on stage, without the need for additional musicians?
“Yes,” says Noah. “The effects we use are often instruments in and of themselves. There’s no other way for us to write this music but to play it live. If we can’t play it as a duo in our practice space in real time, we definitely can't play it at a show.”
Just a cursory listen to ‘Process’ implies a collective far greater than the power of two – but it really is just a couple of guys behind the scenes, behind the buzzes and bass, the screeches and screams. Opening brace ‘Pure Pleasure’ and ‘Cuts Me In Half’ are real system shockers, electrodes to the balls and gums. That said, the record does feature contrasting moments of comparative calm, such as the closing ‘Radiation’, and ‘Everything In Reverse’ could almost be a Horrors cut.
Originally, Noah was working with a fellow named Rick Daniel, whose drums are all over ‘Process’. “We met through a mutual friend,” he recalls, “and after realising we had similar musical tendencies, we started messing with effects and noisemaking instruments, and things grew from there.”
Rick departed, with real-world demands – a career, marriage, that sort of thing – impacting too heavily on his time. He couldn’t commit to Yvette as Noah could. But he did, in Noah’s words, “stick around long enough to pass the torch to Dale”. Eisinger’s mind was made up pretty quickly: “Within about a week of us meeting, he already had his pedal-board and drum triggers ready to go,” recalls his bandmate.
And on the music itself? It might lean on familiar pillars of inspiration, but there’s no denying the deep impression that ‘Process’ can leave on even a casual fan of This Sort Of Thing. It turns out that Yvette actually have to shave some of their music’s intensity off, for it to make the release-ready cut. “The songs are too impactful at the start,” says Noah. “Putting these sounds into songs is us attempting to make the chaos slightly more manageable.”
“Slightly more manageable,” maybe – but palatable to those holding the everyday up as revolutionary it most certainly isn’t. Yvette are not here to please, to provide a tune-out soundtrack to mundane responsibilities. ‘Process’ is music to let loose to, in a basement, in the dark, with broken glass underfoot. This feels necessary – perhaps only to a marginalised crowd, but let such a relatively narrow audience appeal dull not Yvette’s compelling cacophonies. “People who truly need this kind of music end up finding it,” Noah concludes, “and that makes us happy.”
Shiny happy people, holding hands, slamming themselves into concrete, bloody chins propping cracked smiles, ready for the next to smash into the now. And nobody’s coming away from ‘One Day Like This’ needing dental surgery, are they.
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Yvette, ‘Radiation’, from ‘Process’
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WHAT: Noisy music for people who want to dance at the edges of losing their minds. Also: a bit like HEALTH. (Sorry, but really, it is.)
GET 3 SONGS: ‘Radiation’, ‘Everything In Reverse’, ‘Cuts Me In Half’
FACT: ‘Process’ came out in the US last year, where it was warmly received by Pitchfork, who commented: “Yvette are a two-piece band, but sound like an army.” True enough.
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Words: Mike Diver
‘Process’ is released in the UK through Tough Love on May 5th. Find Yvette online here.