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Saturday 25 July 2020

And Let Them Glow: Musical Misfits Yllwshrk Straddle Genres To Produce Songs Of Beauty & Meaning

Yellow Shark YellowShark yellowshark yllwshrk. yllwshrk are an amalgamation. Hailing from both sides of Hadrian's Wall, they are more at home in classical concert halls than the Camden dive bars, and more accustomed to bows and mallets than the amps and synths of the alt-rock scene.

Yet their debut album I Am Aladdin seems to have found a way to bring these distinct worlds together.

However, the irony that part of yllwshrk's lineup owes itself to a set of computer algorithms is not lost on the band. 

Vocalist Sam West responded to a long list of Gumtree adverts shortly after his arrival in London from Glasgow, and shortly afterwards found himself in a rehearsal room in less-than-familiar circumstances. 

"We had full scores of the music printed out, and instead of running the chorus a few times like I'm used to, it would be 'let's take it from the upbeat into bar 66' so there was quite a bit of adjusting to do."

The core individual behind the yllwshrk concept is composer and guitarist Ian Anderson, who cites the likes of Mahler and Prokofiev as big influences amongst more contemporaries such as Björk and Radiohead. 

It was in fact working as a session viola player as part of the London Contemporary Orchestra on Radiohead's latest album A Moon Shaped Pool that made Ian decide to approach the LCO to form the backbone of the album. 

It was also during a break in one of these A Moon Shaped Pool sessions that Ian asked LCO principal bassist Dave Brown to be a part of yllwshrk.

"Knowing the LCO so well I knew they would be perfect for the album. Their distinctively dark, unsettling sounds involve many unusual playing techniques that I knew would match and enhance our music. 


"However, it's also always fun to shock people, so bringing in an entire twisted disco string score for them to play on our song Arsenik was fun. 

"They're more known for their unsettling Jed Kurzel film scores or their fantastically dark Spitfire texture library, so it was fun to watch the session morph into Saturday Night Fever."

yllwshrk's full complement includes eclectic guitarist Matt Issac and drummer/percussionist Feargus Brennan, who bring drive and grit into such tracks as PUKI and Pyramids. 

They also bring to yllwshrk their vast personal collections of guitars, baritone guitars, pedals, and percussion instruments which appear throughout I Am Aladdin

There's a strangeness to the music, an implacable bizarreness to its quality which perfectly complements the subject that the songs tackle. 

And Let Them Glow is the collective's debut single, scored for the intimate line-up of acoustic guitar, string quartet, and male and female voices. 

"The song is about my great aunt, the closest person I had to a grandparent, and my experience of watching her slowly fade to a pale shadow of her former self due to Alzheimer's disease," comments Anderson. 

"Once so vibrant and loving, she gradually became miserable, confused and paranoid, hallucinating due to the cocktail of drugs she was given to stay alive. 

"Is this kindness? Is this what we really want for our loved ones? Is that what I would want for myself?"

In the accompanying video, directed by Lewis Landini, a dancer explores the crumbling remains of a derelict theatre in a moving film that echoes the song's themes of memory, ageing, identity and loss.

yllwshrk's debut album 'I Am Aladdin' will be released via EOA Recordings on October 16, 2020. CLICK HERE for more details.

by: Mike Cobley




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