I’ll just get this out of the way now: I’m a sucker for subtle, unassuming indie-folk. Simplicity is an understated treasure in today’s complex indie music landscape, and its spoils are only available for those who make themselves aware of it. In my experience, getting into an album without much more than a guy and his guitar is quite easy, but appreciating it for what it is becomes the true test of will. Such a sensation was felt throughout my many repeated listens of yesper‘s most recent EP, cannibal king, and I must admit – this is one of the most engrossing, humbling, and hypnotic recordings I’ve ever had the pleasure of hearing.
Where yesper excels is not in fabricating bombastic, hook-driven acoustic pop. This material reaches well beyond that designation, far away from the shallowness that plagues many artists that try their hand at the acoustic/vocal combo. In contrast, yesper takes a more introspective approach, focusing on the sense of space that causes you to close your eyes and feel the vibration of the guitar strings, hum along to his subtle vocal harmonies, and drink in the soft, vibrant atmospheres that each song brings into existence.
The title track sounds unlike any other on cannibal king, featuring a catchy, upbeat downward melody. Lyrically, the song handles a few different themes seemingly tongue-in-cheek, and although I can’t directly attest to their poetic validity (because I’m more of an instrumental listener/weenie), I can say that they made me smile, over and over again. The song is a perfect introduction to yesper, who whispers his lyrics with a certain unwavering confidence, juxtaposing them with his intricate guitar picking and sprawling atmospheric soundscapes.
“Racer” carries the EP along with a seemingly living, breathing rhythm; one that undulates with a slow churn, but blooms into a long, beautiful burn. This is a song that utilizes silence extremely well, as at about 2:40 in, there is a lull followed by a strong resurgent beat accented by a hypnotic, rhythmically driven guitar/vocal melody.
“Secret” and “hovercars” follow along in the subtlety department, both continuing yesper‘s penchant for substance over style, all while working in slightly off-kilter instrumental and lyrical environments. Such environments are quite possibly what makes his music so appealing. “Weight“, however, steals the show due to its irresistible unpredictability. While the song doesn’t seem like much on its surface, this was the one that grew on me the most. Its soft percussive elements accent yesper‘s soulful, over-arching choruses, all while his meticulous guitar work and barely-there synths/mallets chug the tune along its mysterious path.
Where yesper falters is only in failing to release more of these wonderful songs. At a play count of roughly 60 on my iPod over the past month (not counting my streams from his Bandcamp page), this EP has been absolutely ingrained in my being. I can’t recommend it enough, nor the fact that it’s currently available on a pay what you want basis. This music deserves far more than the zero dollars you thought you’d spend on it. It’s the perfect opportunity to throw an extremely talented musician some cash for an absolutely flawless record. Do it.
Sounds like: Mimicking Birds, Jose Gonzalez, Blind Pilot
Stand out tracks:
Take a listen to my home-brewed instrumental/indietronic album
"The Past Is a Story We Tell Ourselves"
I'm told that it sounds like The Album Leaf, Balmorhea, and Emancipator.