Review: Yellow Swans – Going Places

The announcement came in 2008 that Yellow Swans were to break up after their next release. Despite the fact that both members are to continue to produce new material under different projects, it must have been strange for the Portland-based noise act to compose Going Places in the knowledge that it represents the last batch of new material under the Yellow Swans moniker.

It seems that they’ve strived to ensure that the conclusion to this prolific project is as climactic as it deserves. Going Places sounds huge. Every track on this release is completely ablaze with sound, but not in a fashion that mindlessly disregards the composition as a whole – the album has been well planned, with each sinister scrape and white noise crackle a perfect complement to the accompanying activity. The album can sometimes hit deafening volume and yet still manages to retain an incredible cavernous atmosphere, often daunting in its sense of depth and space.

Opener “Foiled” explodes with a fiery sense of finale, with rumble and pulse propelling the “melody” that gushes through the centre and the feedback escaping as intermittent staccato gasps. “Opt Out” offers up a contrast with its 13-minute build up, coming across as a gloomy bubbling sewer in its early stages before monolithic towers of white noise begin to blast away the walls and bring about its collapse.

Going Places doesn’t drastically change from here on in and chooses to delve further into the atmosphere generated in its opening stages. “Limited Space” draws upon bass-heavy lurches of rhythm as a central force, whilst the closing track to both this album and Yellow Swans’ career is a glorious chorus of reverb and distortion, with the latter gradually cranked up until it overloads and smothers absolutely everything. And then that’s it; the band’s 9-year existence fades into silence as a harsh and overdriven noise loop. They’ve sent themselves off on a blinding high, no doubt about that.