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Ambition Will Eat Itself Patrick Clarke , August 16th, 2018 08:58

The ever-mutating Manc collective have released another belter

The Yossarians’ last full-length album, Fabric Of Time, was one of 2017’s very best. It took mid-period Swans and The Bad Seeds at their most fiercely melodramatic and added an ecstatic and lopsided melodic tilt with roots in Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Jewish traditions. At points the band slip into a wicked, punishing stomp, and at others it’s a sheer cataclysm of fiery, overwhelming noise.

Instrumentally they were superb on that LP, but what glued it together was frontman and songwriter Tim Schiazza. His songs are almost literary, with the same combination of pathos and freewheeling dark humour as the original Yossarian, protagonist of Catch 22. He also has a sharpness and depth akin to Dostoyevsky in its atmospheric heft. Really. On this new mini-album, it is this aspect that is highlighted beyond any other.

Opener ‘World’ finds The Yossarians on their most dramatic form. “When the world turns bitter and towers above / You don’t see it at first cos you have just enough,” Schiazza sings with a gentle, elegiac strength. The band move with a mournful elegance from an ethereal arpeggio into an all-consuming sweep of rich melancholia. Schiazza is on tremendous form, both vocally and lyrically; “Which one of us must prove that he’s already behaved / Like a man, like a son, like a ghost, like a friend…” he sings with a sweet sadness as the song ebbs towards its end.

Then they launch into their other gear – a combination of those punishing stomps and fiery cataclysms that defined Fabric Of Time. ‘Caramelised’ is relentless, a pummelling piece that starts at with bone-shuddering pump of evil drums and a hostile wail from Schiazza – “Kill me once again” – and builds from there. The looping and manic ‘Friends We Are’ follows, whirling round and around to a point of near-collapse, then the title track looms into earshot, a death march that thuds and simmers with pitch black gloom. “Taoism versus the impending inferno” wails Schiazza; “Ambition will eat itself” comes a refrain.

This record is 17 minutes long, and within that time The Yossarians offer a richness, depth and intensity that it’d take many of their contemporaries a whole career to achieve. The last of its five tracks, ‘As In Life As In Chess, As In Chess As In Sex’, is under four minutes long, and spends the first half of that time drifting through a hazy, drone, chimes and flourishes of Eastern scales drifting in and out of the mist. The explosion that this builds up to, however, is titanic. It doesn’t last long, but by the time it’s done you’re left reeling with as much dizzying sickness as you would after a Gnod epic ten times as long. Ambition Will Eat Itself is small, but it packs quite the punch.