THE GREAT YVETTE
By Nick Sylvester
I first discovered Yvette through the wall of my practice space. Discovered is wrong. Yvette were so loud, so monstrous, that my bandmates and I were physically incapable of hearing our own instruments. It was pointless to attempt a rehearsal with the sound of doom happening next door: a barrage of rolling toms and sub-bass triggers, the processed guitar noise, a man shouting what had to be a magic spell. The sound was deeply primal and cabalistic. A seance? An animal sacrifice maybe? It’s rare for music to scare me but that’s what happened that day. I certainly wasn’t going to go knock on their door and ask them to turn down! No fucking way.
When you’re in a band, tunnel vision is not a pose. It’s an act of self-preservation. You try to limit your exposure to new music. Not because it will influence what you’re doing, so much as it will make you terribly anxious and sad. Because as it turns out, every band is on a mission from God. Every band has a version of what the world wants or needs right now. You avoid other new bands for one big reason: What if they’re right and you’re wrong? It’s too much to think about. Instead of knocking that night, we cut short our practice and got the hell out of there.
Brooklyn’s Yvette are Noah Kardos-Fein and Rick Daniel. The music has a clear lineage, coming out of New York no wave acts like Mars and DNA, with a taste for industrial post-punk like Throbbing Gristle and This Heat too. Weird sounding, very physical music. But as out-there as Yvette are, their songs are catchy, hummable, concise. They use untraditional song structures, but there are structures. These songs always go somewhere.
Unlike a lot of experimental music, which is about process or just plain ego, Yvette songs carry a good deal of emotional heft. You don’t need wall text for this stuff. It requires no setup or exegesis. I’ve played songs like “Erosion” and “Cold Sweat” for people with zero context--people who don’t “get” music, they just feel it. And they feel it. This is not Idea Music. It’s frightening and physical and throttling. As vital as a baby’s cry. Very much NOW.
The music is aggressive, sure. But Yvette aren’t trying to punish us, or “teach us a lesson.” When I take a step back, my sense is that Yvette are trying to shake something out of themselves with this frightening, physical music of theirs. Us too. Something we forget was there maybe. Something deeply positive and--for all the storm and stress--something hopeful too.
As for my story? Eventually I got up the courage to knock on that door of theirs. I wanted to record Noah and Rick because I wanted to see how music this special gets made. My buddy Matt LeMay and I did the Yvette session in late 2011, over a weekend, in my rehearsal space, where I first heard them. Both Noah and Rick are exacting performers. I don’t pretend to understand what they’re doing exactly, or how they became my musical Theory of Everything. But I always--always--stop what I’m doing whenever they begin to play. And I assure you: Whatever you’re doing can wait too.