Yamatanka/Sonic Titan: Uzu

Asian-Canadian aesthetes unveil mythic second album.

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This Toronto/Montreal epic art rock collective present their eagerly awaited second effort, in which they continue their interrogation of cultural identity (founders Alaska B and Ruby Kato Attwood are Asian-Canadian art students) with a special focus on tragic female characters from world mythology, particularly those whose stories involve the sea.

Lost and adrift in the modern world, our protagonists encounter superhuman beings dreamed up to rationalise the constant movement of the oceans and, by extension, life itself. Uzu is best appreciated as a continuous experience, but is not without its moments of immediacy.

Lamia impresses, with the band aiming for simplicity and scale as an immense tsunami-like riff crashes down accompanied by an otherworldly lead vocal and spectral choral arrangements. The similarly impressive Windflower blends gothic New Wave pop with brittle electronic sequences and pomp rock grandeur to addictive effect. One folds in traditional Iroquois song without sacrificing any of its baroque pop appeal.

That the album’s coherent and not irksomely eclectic is down to the artists’ sheer vision.