The cover of Albany instrumental rock quintet YOMA’s new album Approaching Silence is serene enough from a distance. Hazy skyscrapers reach toward a pastel sky at sunset. Like the band’s music, things get disconcerting upon closer inspection. What might have been the twinkle of lights in office windows are instead raging fires. Where the sky may have been reflected in the glass and steel there are gaping holes in the architecture.
The quickest way to describe how YOMA sound might be to triangulate between two of their closest local allies, post-rock band lastdayshining, with whom they shared a bill for the release of Approaching Silence last weekend, and doom-metal band Maggot Brain. That is to say, this is music born of malaise and agitation, the degree of which may vary from movement to movement, track to track. Structurally, they’re a post-rock band, working with repetitive guitar motifs and climactic multi-section songwriting. Album centerpiece “Tides” starts from an ominous hush before commencing a desolate march through the wreckage of overdriven guitars. It’s heavier and sludgier than most instrumental rock stuff but never abandons all hope at the edge of the inferno.
If Approaching Silence is “cinematic” in the way this kind of stuff is normally described, it accompanies a brand of apocalyptic sci-fi set in the recent past rather than the near future. All the textures and motifs are familiar like the pictured cityscape, but, like the figure on the back cover looking down on the burning chaos, dread of our present predicament seems destined to turn into full-blown metal torment. And that’s when the real work begins.