As a new act emerging into the ever-expanding field of Australian experimental electronic producers, it must be difficult for Big Yawn to differentiate themselves from the pack. Their DIY aesthetic and a focus on live instrumentation is a good place to start, as this automatically elevates them above the thousands of identikit artists that tend to flood the genre.
The two singles released prior to the album are two of the best across ‘No!’, with ‘Skin Rat’ in particular showcasing Big Yawn’s potential – the track is hypnotic, experimental and constantly evolving. The other single, which dropped last August - ‘Thomas’ - illustrates how the group can communicate their collective personality in a way that very few of their contemporaries manage.
Across the first half of the record, Big Yawn manage to deliver a series of great moments including on ‘Peugeot 307’, which rattles with a bassy intensity reminiscent of early Kaytranada. The industrial-sounding ‘Reflex’ simultaneously sounds gritty and other-worldly, while the hip-hop drums on ‘For Whomst’ provide the perfect backdrop for more experimental choices in the rest of the soundscape.
Unfortunately, this early promise falls away somewhat across the second half of the project – as if there aren’t quite enough ideas to sustain the rest of the album. There are some exceptions, such as ‘Anthem X’, but the penultimate three tracks miss the mark, seemingly aiming for ‘minimalistic’ they become not just stripped-back but veer into the realms of dullness. Although final track ‘Body Double’ lifts this half, it still feels slightly bloated and definitely doesn’t justify the almost seven-minute running time.
‘No!’ has makings of a very good album. Certain tracks really hit the mark, while others fall flat. Cut down to a five or six track EP, then this would have been an incredible launching pad for the Melbourne quartet. But there are great moments and some quality tracks across ‘No!’, that the group can now build on...and when it comes to experimentation there are usually some misses as well as hits.
Words: Will Rosebury
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