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Yume Bitsu

Auspicious Winds

(K; US: 14 Nov 2000)

Portland, Oregon’s Yume Bitsu are one of the many musical outfits reaching into the upper layers of the atmosphere and beyond, trying to figure out what type of beautiful music might be floating around up there. “Space rock”, you might call it. Judging by their third album, Auspicious Winds (their first for K; the other two were on Ba Da Bing), I’d put Yume Bitsu at the top of the list of musicians currently playing this type of music. They manage to capture that intensely trancelike state of building, and the meditative ambient dream side, without falling into monotony or inducing boredom.

They also are full of surprises, a nice accomplishment for a band making music that inevitably has a certain quality of sameness to it. Auspicious Winds has five tracks, and each is different from the others. The first track, “The Wedding Procession”, is perhaps the prettiest, a 14-minute involved soundscape of guitar meanderings. It follows a slow procession of melody, through hazy vocals proclaiming that someone’s been married, and into an explosion of soaring sounds. Wedding music is always so cheesy; if, as the title and lyrics indicate, that’s what this was intended as, it’s the best wedding music I’ve heard, indicating a complex emotional journey instead of empty ceremony and tradition.

The final track, “Into the Hole”, similarly uses dreamy vocals, though this time they take a more central role, amidst a welling-up storm of feedback and wind. As the song proceeds, it finds a groove and then gives way to absolute chaos for the last few minutes. It’s another lengthy track, one evoking two beloved bands of days past, Space Needle and Spiritualized.

In between this pair lies a melodic, ambient piece soaked with rain and rain-like percussion (cymbals, etc)., a 13-minute mood piece that finds two guitar sounds, one harsh and one gently quavering, battling each other, and, right in the center of the album, a three-minute rock song, “Sharp, Twisted”. It’s a surprise given the expansiveness of the other tracks, but a nice one. Cynics might say it’s on there so there’s at least one song fit for radio play, but dismiss it that easy and you miss out on a pleasurable little jewel, a mellow but rocking song reminiscent to a certain extent of Ride, another of my favorite defunct bands.

“Into the Hole” has lyrics about finding your way home when it’s “too late to ask for the directions”. The song’s answer is, “I believe we can find another way”. Yume Bitsu tread similar ground as some of the best musicians of the last couple decades, but they find their own way through it. Auspicious Winds is a beautiful trip. As the cliché goes, it’s great music to dream to, but there’s a lot more going on here.

Dave Heaton has been writing about music on a regular basis since 1993, first for unofficial college-town newspapers and DIY fanzines and now mostly on the Internet. In 2000, the same year he started writing for PopMatters, he founded the online arts magazine, still around but often in flux. He writes music reviews for the print magazine The Big Takeover. He is a music obsessive through and through. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

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