Having played in other bands for over a decade, the collective members of Great Ytene aren't exactly new kids on the block. Having initially formed eight years ago as Colours – check out their reverb-laden 2012 single 'Drip Haze' – they changed their name four years later. Reemerging as Great Ytene, with it came a more conscious urge to experiment and 2014's self-titled debut EP bore the earliest fruits of their labours. Released on Bella Union in the spring of that year, its six tracks highlighted a band diversifying their sound in as many ways, the likes of 'Hunter' and 'Suburban Lights' in particular both demonstrating Great Ytene's prowess at pushing themselves beyond any given boundaries.
Since then, it's been a difficult couple of years. Difficult in the sense that the band's debut album should have actually seen the light of day in 2015 – except they lost the entire collection due to a technological mishap meaning they had to go back to the drawing board and literally start all over again from scratch. While that would have probably driven some bands into deciding to call it a day, for Great Ytene it proved a divine source of inspiration. Shutting themselves off from the world for six months, writing and recording a whole new batch of songs. Locus being the result of that uncertain period, its an unsurprisingly bleak and occasionally tormented collection but one that places Great Ytene back on the map as it were.
It was recorded and mastered with Iggy B – whose past credits include Money's The Shadow Of Heaven – and MJ from Hookworms, whose skills behind the mixing desk are now becoming as prominent if not more so than his band's output. Locus screams despair and isolation from every pore, such as on the polemic title track which mirrors Archie Bronson Outfit at their finest. Leon Diaper repeatedly intoning "I need to be free!" early on until the song draws to its inevitable conclusion.
Elsewhere, 'George Street' recalls Six By Seven at their most intense, its incisive chord structure furrowing away unflinchingly before picking up pace as it hurtles towards the end. Diaper's vocals low in the mix to create an eerie presence rather than indigenous singalong. 'Electric Pulses' bridges the gap between the Great Ytene of three years ago and where they find themselves today. Not too dissimilar to 'Hunter' off that first EP, it fuses elegant dreampop stylings with mathrock segments that could be Foals-do-shoegaze in a parallel universe.
'Fixed Victim' follows the math route structurally from the outset, glissando guitars punctuating its core as Lewis Baker's distinctive drum sound holds all the elements together at the back. Seguing unashamedly into the jangling guitars of 'Physical Warmth', Great Ytene's tendency to switch course and genre at any given moment proving to be a strong part of their make-up.
The epic 'Appetite' brings the album to a close, its menacing delivery amidst layers of (albeit) controlled noise being quite reminiscent of Liars at their most potent. While reference points are few and far between throughout Locus, those that linger are of artists equally as disparate in their output. Which is why Great Ytene stand out as an anomaly themselves. A record worth investing money, time and effort into.
8Dom Gourlay's Score