Naked Elf - Yi

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Smiley Jones Records
Catalog Number: SJ006
Format: CD
Total Time: 61:02:00

Naked Elf is a subsidiary of Solution Science Systems, who, as you recall, released an initial report entitled Solution Science Systems. I was not aware of the connection between these two entities until I glanced at the back cover of the informational booklet provided with this release entitled Yi. Whereas the parent entity Solution Science Systems (SSS) released their documents in the form of 80s styled rock, Naked Elf chooses the less commercial, but no less viable, form of communication known as the electro-ambient instrumental. Here we are provided with 11 examples from the trio of elves known as Rob MacGrogan (guitar), Kelly Shane (drums) and Andy Tegethoff (bass and keyboards). These same three individuals form SSS as well, but Naked Elf is far from being a shell company (do not expect to see parallels to Enron or WorldCom, for instance) ? this subsidiary is a fully vested entity and deserves consideration outside the parent entity. Listening to the results of this trio's experiments in this guise, one would hardly think they were the same individuals, and so a separation between the two is easily drawn.

The eleven documents are evolving, organic experiments in sound and texture, and require studied concentration to follow their convoluted sonic patterns. Because these audio files were not grown under controlled conditions ? verily the notes indicate that "all sounds were spontaneously composed and performed" ? there is no planned artifice. Thus the structures are fluid, amorphous ? like pliable jelly, yet firm to the touch ? a large, multi-hued, melted gummy bear comes to mind. Translucent, yet not transparent; a frosted-glass patina dulls the surface, yet one can detect something alive within. That is until we get to the more mechanical sounding "CircusSSS ? The Performing Bestiary," which takes a warped melody and affixes various bleep and bloops. One might suggest some Fellini-esque overtones, and yet the piece suggests no inherent darkness. A martial theme runs through "Enter The Grand Vizier" while spacey sonic effects add an otherworldly atmosphere (what were they cooking ? or smoking ? in their lab, one wonders).

The experiments begin with the throbbing "Books Of Bokonon," which overlays screaming guitar atop a sultry, booming bass line. There are some vague elements of King Crimson in its construction, but isn't nearly as angular. As one will experience throughout the document, there is a psychedelic underpinning to each track, as exemplified by this piece's mellower passage, where laser-precise keyboard effects create languidly arching streams of light across an undulating membrane of sound. But, as evolution is the keyword here, the sound-organism morphs into something else again.

The stew of "Stew" is not the beef and potatoes and carrots edible concoction you might serve for dinner, but the primordial stew from which life sprang eons ago ? and it is this moment of creation that is captured and sustained for deep examination. Gentle, country-tinged pop-jazz-ambient is prodded at carefully, tentatively in "Electric Bread" where shimmery guitar phrases take the lead over subtle bass and percussion elements.

Later experiments include a file entitled "Socks, Clocks," which brings a spacey element (akin to a deliriously happy R2-D2) to a grooving, driving rock arrangement. It's driving music for your rocket ship trip to the psychedelic side of the moon. And "The Dark Cone Orodruin" is an experiment in sonic subtlety, needing only some murky visuals in accompaniment to complete the package. One envisions being sucked inside an especially dense Roger Dean painting, where bulbous plant/rock like formations grow like thick-trunked trees in an otherworldy jungle, where the atmosphere thick, cold, and alive with nearly microscopic organisms that watch your every move as you try to swim through the thick soup of atmosphere (an atmosphere that includes throbbing drums, droning, undulating keys and fluttery, wah-wah guitar). Time is elastic, a second lasting a year, a year an eon, an eon an eternity.

If we were to draw comparisons to other like-minded entities, we might, first and foremost, think of Djam Karet. They are by no means the only practitioners of this rarified art, as Escapade and Mushroom also spring to mind. And we cannot help but think of an extremely mellow Yes and Genesis (simultaneously) during the final example, "Orion: New Genesis." Flute-like keyboard sounds quietly blow beneath sparse percussion and lanquid, melted strummed guitar. This piece blossoms into something more alive, recalling, at least for me, material issuing from Sweden (Anglagard, Anekdoten, Landberk, in particular) ? a darkness? fatalistic, moody? gloomy?.

Conduct your own investigations into Naked Elf and see if you draw the same conclusions. Experiments must be repeatable, of course, for the results to be considered viable ? and so I encourage you to repeat my experiments. One must be in tune with the variety of sonic experiments the trio proffers, and one must be of an open and relaxed mind ? though one must not necessarily be "clear headed" ? so as to be drawn into their sonic universe. If you think you are up to this sort of thing, copies maybe be obtained from the Naked Elf via their distributor, Smiley Jones.

Books Of Bokonon / Stew / Electric Bread / In The Domain Of The Dread Dormammu / The Transmigration Of Mr. Natural / Malphus Inaugurated / CircuSSS ? The Performing Bestiary / Enter The Grand Vizier / Socks, Clocks / The Dark Cone Of Orodruin / Orion: New Genesis

Rob MacGrogan ? guitar
Kelly Shane ? drums
Andy Tegethoff - bass and keyboards

Yi (2002)

Genre: Electronic

Origin US

Added: January 11th 2004
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 917
Language: english


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