Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
Cleveland, OH, 44110
Doors 7:30 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
Yamantaka // Sonic Titan
There’s a whole world contained within Yamantaka // Sonic Titan. They’re a Noh-Wave prog collective, a black-and-white (and sometimes red) theatre company, an operatic psych cult, and the speculative prophets of humanity’s impending doom. Above it all, though, they’re a thunderous rock band, and on their upcoming third album, DIRT, they’re the heaviest they’ve ever been.
Though they’ve been an amorphous beast since they formed in 2010, DIRT follows the group’s most significant evolution in years. Now totally Toronto-based, they’ve added new singer Joanna Delos Reyes, guitarist Hiroki Tanaka and bassist Brandon Lim, who, along with the towering drums of leader/artist Alaska B, singer/theatre artist Ange Loft and keyboardist Brendan Swanson, turn the group into a driving engine of sound. Live, the band can be sprawling and theatrical or concise and visceral, filling the stage with noise, melody and cacophony.
DIRT is the band’s first album since 2013’s UZU, their second straight to be shortlisted for the Polaris Prize as one of the best Canadian albums of the year. But the gap between albums hasn’t been a hiatus. Instead, the group hunkered down in the studio composing the mostly-instrumental score to the DrinkBox Studios video game Severed, along with members of the Canadian-Filipina gong group Pantayo. They emerged with new elements to heighten and distort into their already far-reaching sound, which combines and tornadoes Asian diasporic and Indigenous influences and perspectives.
They’ve streamlined their sound, digging into both heavy and poppy influences like Judas Priest, Killing Joke, and Jordan Knight and translating them into their own unmistakable aesthetic. The live show is still a sensory overload of makeup and costumes that falls somewhere between Boredoms and Kiss, but the focus now is on their sound - the fullest, most killer version they’ve put on record yet. They think big, but they’re not a thought experiment. They’re a force.
Similar to Sun Ra’s take on Afrofuturism, the band resist being pigeonholed into any one idea, sound or cultural perspective. Instead, they burst their references apart, creating something entirely new. No matter what direction they go in, it can only come from Yamantaka // Sonic Titan.
It's getting dark out there. People are seething. And when it all comes crashing down, this is the sound you'll hear. Ghosts, the second release from Cleveland's Hiram-Maxim, is a whorl of punishing noise and pounding beats, dark textures, bleak visions and howls of pain.
Fred Gunn's vocals are spoken and screamed, accusations and absolutions that take in personal suffering and state-sponsored acts of oppression. Lisa Miralia's processed vocals and DIY electronics conjure up synthetic squalls and clouds of distortion, warped and abrasive textures that obscure the dark, bloozy groove laid down by guitarist Dave Taha and drummer John Panza. And guest guitarist Oliver Ackermann, of A Place to Bury Strangers, adds sonic broken glass to the opener, "Behind the Blindfold" and the title track, "Ghosts".
Hiram-Maxim recorded Ghosts with Martin Bisi at his legendary BC Studio in Brooklyn, with some portions captured at John Delzoppo's Cleveland studio, Negative Space. Clocking in at 42 minutes, the record's seven tracks are as sprawling and expansive as those on the band's self-titled debut. That 2014 LP drew praise from outlets like Vice and Decibel. But Ghosts is a step forward, its songs more focused and more vicious.
Gunn did time in punk bands. Miralia is an established figure on the noise scene (her rig, featured in Gear Gods, is the envy of pedal geeks everywhere). Taha, whose previous band, Filmstrip, dealt in far-sunnier hooks, counts Elizabeth Cotten and Thurston Moore among his influences. Panza, meanwhile, plays with reckless abandon in several bands despite having only one lung. He lost the other to a bout with malignant pleural mesothelioma. He was lucky to survive.
The band takes its name from the Anglo-American inventor Hiram Stevens Maxim. He's best known for the Maxim gun, an ur-machine gun that helped turn Europe into an open-air slaughterhouse in World War I. It was an appropriate choice.
"[Hiram-Maxim's] 'Visceral' builds into an apocalyptic fervor before dissipating into a cloudy haze and ending before you've had your fill. Thankfully there's a whole album of these brutal-but-beautiful goodies." - Vice
"[Aqualamb's] first release of 2015 is a murky psychedelic venture into a darkness that immediately seems familiar to the Ummagumma days of Pink Floyd... The album's congruence of spacious ambience and hissing electronics makes for the kind of pulsing abrasion that's immediately and infectiously rewarding." - Steel for Brains
"More like an experiment in the deconstruction of sound than an album in the traditional sense... In another universe, one might call it punk rock. Here, it is gleefully and thoroughly fucked up." - The Obelisk
"Pink Floyd-esque progressive rock nuances and Oxbow-style weirdness... Noisy, psychedelic and just plain odd." - American Aftermath
"Spread over four tracks, the music on Hiram-Maxim (Aqualamb) sounds mostly improvised, giving it a genuine feeling of unease as the four band members craft sounds that could be the soundtrack to undergoing a particularly intense k-hole whilst locked in a Salvador Dali museum overnight. The loose, free-form approach often gives way to violent bursts of noise such as on the brutally harsh 'Can't Stop' which sounds as if Throbbing Gristle had been force-fed mescaline." - Ghost Cult Magazine