Demian Johnston & Kevin Gan Yuen: Keep Your Hands

Demian Johnston & Kevin Gan Yuen, Keep Your Hands, USA Debacle Records DBL056 CD (2011)

At just over 27 minutes, this isn’t a long recording but it sure makes quite an impression that lasts long after the CD stops spinning. It starts tentatively, quietly, as if apologetically testing the listener’s willingness to stay with it: a tiny little guitar mewl and a low rumble are all that you hear at first on “Told Outloud Indoors”. The music unwraps slowly and reveals itself to be a mighty guitar-drone monster with a huge maw and a shimmering crackling noise shower that ebbs back and forth over the rumble. On occasion a metal foghorn yowl erupts from the bass crawl. I am very much reminded of a riff-less SunnO))) or a slowed-down version of Fall of the Grey Winged One: this duo is fully the equal of those acts when it comes to churning out grinding guitar churn and slag-heap muck. Admittedly the track doesn’t do a great deal other than force its way through chunks of heavy black atmosphere with a heavy rumbling drill-bit machine noise and it peters out rather disappointingly but while it’s going, it’s a really exhilarating and vital experience.

“The Thought of this …” is another heavy ride through stuttering drone static and other noise effects and washes. The difference here is in mood and atmosphere: the track seems more distant as though taking place far away in space. Cosmic storms and huge clouds of hydrogen gas may be passing by in the neighbourhood. Halfway through the track starts to become more intense with more withering storms of noise layered upon one another and a rhythm developing. Deep juddering drone sounds off while layers of metal noise whirl and revolve like a strange cloud phenomenon in space defying all known laws of physics and swallowing meteors, asteroids and planets. The whole track pulses and throbs with the apparent chaos which actually sounds quite sculptured and never sprawls or collapses everywhere.

A good little recording that might be the portent to an illustrious career in noisy guitar drone experimentation, Keep Your Hands is worth your time hearing out if your style of outdoor adventure is driving an armoured SUV through heavy, crumbling blocks of metal slag and soil that throws up mud and scrap at the windshield.

Contact: Debacle Records,