Panel of Proles #4: Yo Dynamo ~ Octosplurge

How much blistering sound is it possible to make in a band of just two people? History has shown us the answer is Quite A Lot. From the swamp blues of The White Stripes to the anthemic rock of Japandroids to the noise maelstrom of Lightning Bolt, some of the wildest and most cacophonous music ever recorded has been laid down by duos. Three’s a crowd, baby!

So how do fresh-faced art punks & feral kings of Sheffield’s underground DIY scene Yo Dynamo fit into this heady musical phylogeny of two-piece legends? After a couple of years of riotously deranged gigs they’ve released their much-anticipated debut album which has been on more-or-less constant play here in the PROLE JAZZ bunker…

To commemorate this fantastical occasion we gathered a crack commando unit of players from across the musical spectrum to dissect the cephalopodic beast that is Octosplurge. Our team of jive hounds and mushroom poets dedicated their skilled ears and minds to producing a musical review of profound insight and delicate sensibility. Wanna find out what they thought? Read on!

(… listen while you read by clicking HERE ~ like it? BUY IT!)

Yo yo!

Bo Meson: Octosplurge: A spectacular apocalypse? Octosplurge – eight extravagantly tight tracks of splendiferous punk conception – the feel of an irreverent vintage XTC melding with Wire at a gypsy carnival, with hints of an early Siouxsie vocal aesthetic sometimes supplanting a beat insistently turning on its’ heels to grind the fag-end of your life into the dust. A warning about Toadlicker: If you know Stonehenge by Spinal Tap then I suggest you wait until the bufotenine kicks in before listening. A spectral acropolis.

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Bo Meson is an ambidelic, post-folk, prog-bebop, wordsmith currently working on a jazz album with Martin Archer (due out on Discus Records later in the year) and a mixed-genre album with Andy McAuley (due out on meson.me.uk later in the year)

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Captain Jack Avery: Electricity is the devil-juice that powered the birth of rock n roll, of punk, of acid house raves and warehouse squat parties, of guitar squall and warped beats, of Ladyland. “Electricity comes from Other Planets“, Lou Reed mumbled in stoned and extravagant brain-skat on a long-forgotten VU outtake; “The Ghost of Electricity howls from the bones of her face” posited Dylan, ruminating Johanna, yearning and lost; “Eeeeeleccccctriiiiiiiiciiiiiteeeeee” growled Beefheart like some deranged song-shaman, back in the mists of forgotten time. Electricity is the Voodoo Power at the pulsing heart of some of the greatest music ever made, a partially tamed beast worthy of deification and worship, a trans-human charge, a physical manifestation of the creative spark: and the Dynamo is its Earthly Creator.

So: we have Dynamo, producer of DC, of Electricity, etymologically derived from the Ancient Greek for Power. Also Yo, from the Japanese, an amplifier of meaning, a denoter of expressive feeling, a verbal notice of emphasis and force. And so it comes to pass that Sheffield-based Cosmic Punk Duo Yo Dynamo may well be the most aptly named pair of feral sonic miscreants to emerge from the city’s thriving underground music scene in some years. Denizens of aural peril and wild jinx, the force of nature that is Yo Dynamo have blazed a lava-strewn path through the bars and clubs of Sheffield town these past couple of years with their unhinged and hyper-rhythmic live show. Legendary tales of their octane-imbued gigs have travelled far and wide and this summer they’ve spread their bat-wings and foraged far from the dive bars of London Road, taking flight from the Hatch Cave and performing on the festival scene at Camp Disco and Peace in the Park to audiences of dazed hippies in thrall to their hypnotic and pummelling sound.

Haggling

On Octosplurge, their ecstatic and irreverent debut album, Yo Dynamo deftly capture the fiery energy of their primitivist noise and reveal that beneath the staccato fury of their pulverising live sound lies a bedrock of melodic anti-pop. Octosplurge is twitchy, lunging Disco-Punk; it’s Amphetamine Prog, it’s ADHD Psych-Rock, it’s Lysergic Noise-Pop. Rolling in at just 29 minutes long this 8-track symphony of bass and drums is an avant-punk masterpiece, right from the playful, yelping opening salvo of fuzz-funk beast Now Everybody to the closing Lightning Bolt-esque noise-jam of O Tempora O Grigori. Drummer Rek Law beats a tattoo of percussive static, his drum rolls and snare hits a perfect foil to Billy’s schizoid serpentine bass.

Yo Dynamo are a riot of style and substance, one moment full of mesmerising and shamanic groove before hitting you with a wall of distorted noise. The bass fuzz is a jolt to the heart, a defibrillating Big Muffed roar and a reminder that despite the stylistic japery and magpie riffage, at the heart of this record is a raw and raucous punk sensibility. And yet the DIY fuck-it approach cannot hide the complexity and depth of these tunes, the elegance of their construction. They are so full of magical riffs –  check out Toadlicker at 3:00 or Lazerlips at 0:12 – I guarantee you will be singing these basslines in the shower, humming the yelps and the drops and the tempo fuckery and the low note joy-jive. And matching every lurch and howl of the bass the omnipresent and agile and militaristic drums keep impeccable time, beautifully paired, Rek’s Yo to Billy’s Dynamo.

Rekking Ball

After the first three bangers Yo Dynamo drop Trouble in the Hexidecimal. It’s a sojourn through stoner rock joy a-la-Boris which metamorphoses unexpectedly and ecstatically into a dervish punk explosion of  whirling flange and explosive rhythm and a Rage style ending. Meat, By Popular Demand is avant-disco with a smattering of punk for good measure and possibly the best kazoo intro of all time. Monochew is a ballad for storm imps, a psychotic croon, a glitched and hieroglyphic rumination ode. And then we’re plunged headlong into Goodboy, some kind of skronky freak-out arkestral fuzz-symphonic slab of genius. Listening to this I’m transported in a noise-fugue to a half-remembered room full of sweaty punks and euphoric hippies losing their shit to Rek’s relentless beat and Billy’s dirty bass and unhinged yowling… And the wildness goes onwards and upwards before Yo Dynamo reel it all in and everything teeters on the brink, waiting to incandesce… And they’re revelling in the poise, in the holding, in the infinite moment before aural orgasm… and then everything blows up and comes riotously and release is ours and theirs and yours and the universe is a kaleidoscope of wonderment and colour…

How this shit is not everywhere, why it is not smeared all over the airwaves lounging for weeks in the Top Ten, played hourly on Radio 1, commemorated by a National Holiday &c &c is a mystery to me. This isn’t just punk, or DIY, or noise-rock, this is incredible music full of dynamism and mischievous energy and melodic chop and complexity and simplicity. It’s a unique and idiosyncratic record, a slice of sonic magic, a banality-killing machine. It’s the sound of a pair of musical outlaws making an urgent and irreverent document of fuck knows what… This is Octosplurge!

Favourite Track: Now Everybody

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Jack is a performer of Space Shanties & Alien Jigs with void babies Captain Avery & the Cosmic Triceratops of Intergalactic Peace

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Copius: Yo Dynamo, first thing that comes to mind is hold on to your seats. This is going to get messy.. From the very first second of Octosplurge, straight away you feel that this is going to be one mad psychedelic journey. It sucks you in, makes you feel bouncy, gnarly, adrenaline fuelled, uneasy… the notes and fills have you up in a way which makes you feel edgy, nervous and excited.. destructive almost. It literally makes you want to swing a cat. The ever changing groove and swell in track two Toadlicker, grabs you by the scruff of the neck and goes Right! YOU! Come with me, now! It’s somewhat reminiscent of I wanna be your dog by the Stooges which is a fave. Billy’s anarchic vocals remind me of a time where there were no phones and you had to shout from a tree to get in touch with someone, very tribal and frantic. And It’s that same drone throughout the album which matches the frenzied drumming of soon to be legend drummer Tom. Together they make an incredible painting of twisted sound and I remember first seeing them up at The Greystones Open Mic, one cold Monday evening and being blown away by them. Mark (Villholm) had just played an acoustic tapping set and we both supped an ale and watched on in awe at the birth of a beast. It’s was something new and fresh. Here we are now, a year or so on, listening to the album. It kicks harder than first imagined and suddenly I’m on my second coffee, second listen through and can’t help being drawn into it more, wanting more, searching my studio for a mosh pit. This would go down so well at Download Festival. It’s more Sheffield magic and what I really find remarkable about this act is there is only two members, I know right? Yo Dynamo; possibly the most exciting two-piece straight out of Sheffield right now. Tom and Billy bounce off each other on the recordings like balls in a pinball machine and don’t let up one bit. They proper go for it. If you’ve seen them live you’ll know too this isn’t a one off either. I’m a fan and what I really love is the rawness. You should too. Blissful madness.

Favourite track: Lazerlips

Copius juggles being one of Sheffield’s finest emcees with running Northfield Records, hosting radio shows and getting jiggy with rudeboy junglists Xybots. In his spare time he reviews for PROLE JAZZ. Follow the links to check out his projects!

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Celestial Broc: Octosplurge is the sound of the rainforest. I don’t mean that in an Attenborough – ‘snort through a paper straw you cretin, you’re choking the bloody Orangutans’ – sense, I mean that in a Parry – ‘nature is scary and will kill you before you even try and lick a toad’ – sense.

Rainforests are loud, and if you’ve ever seen Yo Dynamo live, you’ll know they’re also loud. The feeling of transcendent bewilderment their live show evokes, I think, translates well onto cassette tape. I also think that this album could be readily deployed as a survival manual for the tropics. Now Everybody, you should move rapidly though a rainforest because of the constant threat to life. Unless you go up into the trees, with the Howler monkeys. Listen carefully, up in the trees are those Lazerlipped reptiles and amphipians, so watch your back. Trouble in Hexadecimal is the only track on this album that might appear not to have defensive qualities. The vocals are reminiscent of those Wild Beast’s, a typically temperate breed of band. However, you’ve got to get to the end of the track to realise that’s where the electric eels lie. Can you conceive what it’s like to walk through an army ant trail? I did it once, and it was not the best of times. Imagine kazoo themed expletives in a Benny Hill style montage as the ants collectively forage on your Meat. Red Bellied Piranhas are sexy, and, I imagine, employ a Monochew because they possess few molars. Telling a Jaguar they are a Goodboy will not help you. In a spiritual sense, the biodiversity of a rainforest [and this album] is immense. You are constantly being watched. Yo Dynamo remind me a little bit of Liquid Liquid. However, Liquid Liquid conjure more of a car journey feeling, and when I hear music that instigates visual memories of driving through a city at night, then I [without fail] think of Iggy Pop. Now when I imagine a giant poisonous centipede, ripping off the head of a bat, I will think of Yo Dynamo.

Favourite Track: Meat, By Popular Demand because kazoo

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Celestial Broc: 20% Cosmic Triceratop, 50% ShaSh, 100% Disco Diva, 1000% PROLE JAZZer

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