Review Summary: The heart of the desert.
In the midst of the scorching summer heat, desert rock is a natural fit. This type of music was best preserved in the underground and it often gets coined as stoner rock. The Palm Desert scene in Southern California holds a very dear place inside every fan of the respective genre, as it is one of its most prolific areas. In fact, this specific, drug-fueled sound rooted in early psychedelia, hard rock and blues, eventually became the main foundation of the stoner sphere. One difference that still pops up, however, is the Latin influence that has also been adopted in time by multiple bands regardless of location. Many artists hailing from the Mojave Desert such as members of Kyuss, Queens Of The Stone Age, Karma To Burn, Fatso Jetson, Fu Manchu, Nebula, Masters Of Reality, etc. etc., have become renowned around the world and helped popularize the entire genre. Even if some distanced themselves from it throughout the years, most have retained the musical origins in variable amounts.
Frankly, I understand why. There's something magic about this place. Whether is the lovely scenery, the quiet setting or simply the star-studded night sky, nobody can deny it. Since those who appreciate it most are the ones born around it, it's only fair that they gave something back to the heartland. Yawning Man are one of the true pioneers of desert rock, forming all the way back in the mid 80s. Their legendary generator parties in the middle of the Mojave Desert attracted lots of teenagers (among them were future Kyuss members - Brant Bjork, Josh Homme and John Garcia too) and inspired multiple acts to come. Even though they haven't produced any official recordings until 2005, they helped shape the stoner genre with their eerie grooves. Two demos recorded in 1986-1987 have circulated among the fans, becoming more like souvenirs of their prolonged jamming out there.
Their latest LP, Nomadic Pursuits
follows the footsteps of previous offerings, Rock Formations
and even Pot Head
up to some point. While the latter took a darker route, this one harkens back to the summery vibes of the former. These veterans churn several jams that feel more or less rehearsed, focusing mainly on guitar melodies. The most charming tunes here are the dreamiest ones, 'Blue Foam' and 'Camel Tow'. These mesmerizing cuts are definitely essential Yawning Man. Both share swaying grooves where Gary Arce adds lovely licks and solos at his will, while drummer Alfredo Hernandez and bassist Mario Lalli are locked in their own world. Also, album closer, 'Laster Arte' is a late night jam, perfect for a quiet ride home. The distorted bass builds a solid foundation for lovely leads.
Nevertheless, the band shows they can fasten things a little when they feel like doing so. 'Sand Whip' and 'Ground Swell' feature some thunderous, tribal drumming, topped by deep bass lines and slightly distorted guitars. One of Arce's trademarks, he never breaks into full blown power chords like many guitarists tend to do, thus, only tricking you along the way. The centerpiece, 'Far-Off Adventure' showcases best the balance between him and Lalli. Even if their notes are intertwined, tonally, they never cross each other's path. You can always hear where each one trips, leaving a lot of room for the song itself to breathe. The experience these guys have gathered across the decades shows just how good can jam rock can get when you already anticipate the other's moves.
The main conclusion is that Yawning Man are one of the unsung heroes that helped shape the desert music (or how they called it, sol music) and later, stoner rock. Luckily for us, after two decades of activity, while also fronting several other projects, they decided to lay to tape their musical journeys. Nomadic Pursuits
is a gorgeous record that needs to be experienced by every fan of the genre.