David Yow – Tonight You Look Like a Spider

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[Reviewed by Peter Marks]

Welcome to my mind would have been a more appropriate title for the debut solo album done by David Yow. If you’ve ever wondered what the inside of his head was like or pondered how he does what he does, this record is for you. If you’re not a fan of the Lizard or Scratch Acid, quit reading. Nothing from this point onwards is going to make a bit of sense. No, really, this isn’t some kind of joke or elitist jab. ‘Tonight You Look Like a Spider’ is a record which is an island unto itself and that’s that.

For those still with me, David Yow has been a source of delight and terror for many years now; one could hardly forget his performances on Pigface’s debut ‘Gub’. No bones about it. His voice for me supplied all the disgust with the suburbs I would not have dared to express, playing albums like ‘Goat’ and ‘Head’ put it all in perspective out there. Nothing they said was true, everything they stood for was a lie. So now that it’s decades later, in truly Yow-ish fashion: he put this out. A work of art some would say, the demented ramblings of a schizophrenic others would reply. To me this sounds like a burglar who broke into the local high school looking for cafeteria receipts and then somehow wound up in the orchestra rehearsal room where he lost all control amongst the instruments.

He’s done the arranging and composing himself, and if you’d wondered how his vocals were going to fit in, don’t. There aren’t any. Yow’s eclectic choices for his sound palette are bizarre and almost cubist in nature the first couple of times you hear this but fear not oh ye faithful, everything falls into place precisely where it needs to. Many of the other reviews I’ve read for ‘Tonight You Look Like a Spider’ bemoan the fact that it doesn’t sound like where he’s been before, which is exactly why the damn thing is such a treat to listen in on. Oh, and don’t be mistaken, this was not done for you or I. We are merely spectators.

Yow made this -and believe me, it’s a very hand crafted collection of ditties- for himself. Poking and prodding away at his gear until this came out, I’d imagine he was as surprised by the final result as those of us outside the bubble are. No amount of classical training or music theory could have allowed this baby to be birthed, or maybe this is the afterbirth I can’t keep track anymore. There are so many deviations in tone and tempo! Rhythms go off the rails, effects creak and croak like cantankerous retirees who’ve had too much lemonade and think they’re 20 again. The piano playing he displays is like the chattering of dentures falling out of those uppity mouths as they hit the floor and shriek out their death rattle.

This is an album comprised of divine tinkering and some seriously deranged concepts about the nature of melody, that one version of it came with a solid concrete slab is only fitting. We’re merely the apes who must now make sense of it.

David YowTonight You Look Like a Spider
Joyful Noise Recordings, JNR116
LP/CD 2013

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