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O Yuki Conjugate - Tropic

Tropic marks a timely return for O Yuki Conjugate as it follows on from their recent appearances on the compilations Close To The Noise Floor and the Optimo curated Miracle Steps - Music From The Fourth World. Selections for both compilations predate the material on Tropic, with Close To The Noise Floor featuring electronic material from their early post-industrial cassette releases. Tropic looks further ahead and is to be regarded as a companion piece to the ethno-ambient sound found on Equator, an album originally issued by Staalplaat in 1995. Equator, which featured production from Paul Schütze, is regarded as a highpoint of their back catalog which really should be made available again. It was through releases on Staalplaat and Soleilmoon that I first became really aware of them at a time when ambient and drone based music was really taking off. This isn't ambient dance music though. O Yuki Conjugate were much more experimental mixing drone, ambient and ethnic recordings to great effect. Tropic is a reworking of lost forgotten and unreleased material recorded in the mid-nineties, which has been given a recent processing and post-rationalisation in 2015-2016 by Andrew Hulme and Roger Horberry, two of the original three members.

Tropic comprises two lengthy tracks, each clocking in around the 24 minute mark, with titles which appear to have been taken from Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness novel. 'The Fate Of Less Valuable Animals' opens to ambient shimmer that glides into something more organic in nature as sounds and layers unfold. Disembodied keys chime as it moves into a hushed tranquil ambience and then near silence before a sampled voice enters. Location recordings of a tropical rainfall are layered over a backdrop of gentle percussive elements and gongs. And then we're in a Moroccan interzone with the billow of ethnic pipes and tinkling of bells as droning synths envelop and lead us into the ticks and clicks of the electronic rhythms accompanied by hand drums and the waft of ethnic pipes. Seamless and evolving this is a wonderfully immersive slice of prime O Yuki Conjugate.

'Darkness Was Here Yesterday' builds much more mysteriously with its "dirty ambient" textures and storm sounds from which synths rise in unison with a saxophone (I think) before falling into a rhythm in the form of a bell being continually struck before subdued rhythms appear and the electronics stretch out and unfurl in ambient fashion. From here 'Darkness Was Here Yesterday' takes the form of varied sound segments ranging from a thick wooded rolling rhythm section and then to a darker strain of sound textures with processed voices and soundtrack stylings before flickering percussive sounds and distant sax wails lead to a close. There's much more variation to 'Darkness Was Here Yesterday' but it doesn't flow as well as 'The Fate Of Less Valuable Animals'.

Earthy and organic Tropic is a delight for ambient listeners. 'The Fate Of Less Valuable Animals' is more seamless compared to the patchwork construction of 'Darkness Was Here Yesterday' which, in itself, shows the versatility of O Yuki Conjugate. Aside from some appearances on compilations such as Auf Abwegen's own Treat The Gods As If They Exist and an untitled track on a volume of Antibothis I lost touch with O Yuki Conjugate. The compilations mentioned in the introduction are worthwhile reminders of O Yuki Conjugate but I'm thankful for this release as Tropic is a wonderful example of their ethno influenced experimental ambience. With the release of Tropic and live shows in the offing it's clear O Yuki Conjugate are back. Tropic is available as a CD and as a transparent vinyl release both limited to 300 copies. For more information go to Auf Abwegen