The world is full of oxymorons and dichotomies: jumbo shrimp, deliberate mistake, deafening silence, and, of course, Somali Yacht Club. The name may be a humorous juxtaposition, but real ones know the music is dead serious. It’s been four years since the Ukrainian trio have graced us with their proprietary strain of space-rock, psychedelia, post-metal and stoner doom, but on The Space the band showcases just exactly what makes them ahead of the curve when it comes to forward thinking, transcendently epic music that sends you straight from the bottom of the ocean into the outer reaches of the solar system.
Somali Yacht Club, as expected, draws its influences from a wide and almost disparate list of sources: Moccasin, Mars Red Sky, Sungrazer, Isis (the band, people), Down, Electric Wizard, Weedeater and Queens of the Stone Age, to name but a few. The trio, whose lineup has been intact since forming in 2010, keeps the stoner vibes running strong through their blend of light, airy post rock and thundering post-hardcore and doomy post-metal. As with all their other releases, the six tracks that make up The Space grew out of many jam sessions and near-constant reworking. Says the band, “We wrote The Space pretty much the same way as the previous two…we brought an idea or a riff to rehearsal, play and jam it a lot of times to see if it doesn’t go stale, record demos, listen, think, re-think, change everything and so on.” Clearly, The Space is more than just some spaced-out jams recorded in one hazy session. The band put a lot of thought, care and introspection into their newest release, which also happens to finish off the “trilogy” of albums that includes 2013’s The Sun and 2018’s The Sea. Although there is no true unifying theme, the band admits that The Space loosely connects to musical and lyrical concepts that unite their previous releases, with this album being even more driven by instrumentals but still featuring their most abstract and personal lyrics yet.
A hallmark feature of post-metal is the embrace of opposing dynamics: loud and soft, heavy and melodic, open and crushing, abrasive and soothing. In this sense, The Space doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it does carry on the hallowed tradition in fine fashion. It is spacey, doomy, melodic and heavy, all in equal measures, and nothing is overdone. It perfectly straddles the lines it needs to, with just a delicate kiss of melancholy and melodicism. To my ears, I can really tell that these are songs that both came out of jam sessions and then were meticulously refined: they still retain a lot of the organic nature of their beginning, but a lot of work was put into the melodies specifically, and I think all that rewriting and going back to the drawing board pays off. The melodies are easily my favorite part of The Space, and the way they peek through the fuzz and reverb in the quiet parts or the pounding drums and crushing distortion of the metal is masterful work. I love a good power trio specifically because of the way that three people playing off each other can do a lot more than bands with twice as many members if you do it right, and they do it absolutely right. Just listen to the way the bass weaves in and out of the guitar lines instead of copying it note for note, particularly on “Pulsar” and “Echo of Direction” and you’ll see what I mean.
The Space has been a long time coming for fans of the band, but the fact that they took their time with it seems to be the main reason why I find it so successful. It’s got everything you could possibly want out of this kind of music, and it doesn’t overstay its welcome with a ton of bloat or dead space. Incidentally, it is also an album that begs you to engage with some…hobbies while listening to it, which, you know, is especially called for around this time. You do you, just make sure you give this a spin one way or another.