The rock opera generally references the ambitious and occasionally bloated concept albums of seasoned big name artists. Rarely is it used to conjure a Pynchon-worthy fusion of high and low culture or a blurring of the lines between theater and music. But in the case of Toronto/Montreal art partnership YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN, rock opera carries all the latter connotations of the nexus between tradition and irreverence, performance art and unbridled noise. The duality of fusing Old World classicism with New World innovation goes to the very core of the group-their name is a melding of the Buddhist "terminator of death" deity with a song title by seminal stoner doom band Sleep. They describe themselves as "Noh-wave", a nod to both classical Japanese drama and the nihilistic art-punk scene of a pre-Giuliani New York City.
The yin-and-yang philosophy permeates every facet of YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN. The project centers around Alaska B and Ruby Kato Attwood, two art students with a mutual love of opposing forces-heavy metal's brutish assault with Japanese manga's cartoonish appeal, Boredom's experimentalism with Chinese opera, lofty schemes and low budget endeavors. It is safe to say there is no other band like YAMANTAKA // SONIC TITAN on the planet. In a world that is increasingly homogenized, a record like UZU is all the more important for demonstrating how disparate cultural perspectives can merge into something entirely new while retaining their individual sovereign character.
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