Yingthi: “Everything is an Ocean” Review
Yingthi’s music is not for the faint of heart. Her experimental electronic dreamscapes are full of dramatic tension, vertigo, and noise – a combination that under the right circumstances could become a nightmare. It’s a sound that doesn’t seem to be purposed to terrify, however. Rather it gives the impression of coming from the perspective of a being that happens to be in a terrifying world. It’s a world composed of house beats, samples, and electronic noise. The being’s perspective is evoked by the vocals, which are often pitch distorted to the effect that they sound as if they are coming from a child.
Yingthi’s new record Everything is an Ocean gives the impression that it is a gradual descent over the space of ten tracks, deeper and deeper into this frightening universe of her creation. Things start off on the dreamy side with “Come Alive,” and “We Are Stardust,” both of which skew closer to the electronic pop end of the spectrum than what comes later. Standout track “First Steps” is the jumping off point for things to get a bit idiosyncratic. The track combines Asiatic strings, sampled lapping waves, industrial beats, what sounds like a re-purposed Gregorian chant, as well as Yingthi’s cryptic vocals (“Walk this Earth / “Walk this shape / Your first steps / Awake”). Over the course of the rest of Everything is an Ocean Yingthi continues to push her sound into ever more interesting sonic territory – parts of “Ocean of Gravity” sound like the soundtrack to a bizarre intergalactic dance party. At times “Transpermia” is just plain terrifying. Everything in between is an ever-shifting dreamscape of futuristic sound.
In terms of methodology Yingthi states that the lion’s share of her artistic process takes place in the digital audio workstation. Her DIY electronic orchestrations take inspiration in part from (electronic artist) Grimes as well as (Canadian producer) Comaduster. Her ultimate goal is to become a producer – not only of her own music but for her friends as well – and to that end she’s created a collective/CC label called Rake Entertainment.
Hopefully her friends’ musical productions don’t take too much away from Yingthi’s own work because the sound she has created on Everything is an Ocean as well as her previous album Reverse Polarity, is one of the more interesting and unique things to come out of Minnesota music in some time. She and her collaborators are still working out the details of the live performance, so until you can hear her in person I highly recommend checking out all the available tunes at Yingthi’s bandcamp page.