Yamantaka//Sonic Titan deftly blend East Asian theatrics with outre rock for their dramatic album Dirt | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Yamantaka//Sonic Titan deftly blend East Asian theatrics with outre rock for their dramatic album Dirt


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Expansive Canadian rock outfit Yamantaka//Sonic Titan describe their sprawling blend of psych, metal, prog, and punk as “Noh-wave,” a name that’s derived from a classical form of musical theater developed in 14th-century Japan. Naturally, the band’s albums are big, dynamic, and dramatic, with blast beats, hyperdriven guitar solos, and taut vocal melodies that land with might. Last month’s Dirt (Paper Bag) adds to the unfolding story of the world of Pureland that the band began on its 2011 album YT//ST. Though the name of their fantastical universe is derived from a strand of Buddhism that first blossomed in China, its narratives are inspired by the Iroquois story of the creation of North America. The members of Yamantaka//Sonic Titan keep the history of indigenous people close to them and their work, even incorporating hand drums and traditional rhythms into songs such as “Beast.” “It’s Native American music,” founding member and drummer Alaska B recently told Toronto’s Now magazine. Despite its otherworldly setting, Dirt is focused on our own earthly concerns about climate change, though you don’t need to know the narrative details for the percussive crashes that animate the swirling “Dark Waters” to quicken your pulse. In concert, Yamantaka//Sonic Titan play up the theatrics; when I caught them at Schubas in 2012 their handmade stage props and adroit movements brought me a little closer to Pureland.   v

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