While the nation waits with baited breath for the election results to come in, avant-garde indie band Yeasayer prepares to kick off its tour at Pearl Street Ballroom in Northampton. Yeasayer is promoting its third album, “Fragrant World,” released in August by the independent record label, Secretly Canadian.
Formed in 2005, the Brooklyn-based outfit is known for its dedication to the avant-garde, bending genre and incorporating far-flung influences to weave a sonic tapestry so rich in texture the listener is left stunned, sedated and awed.
In 2008 Yeasayer toured with MGMT.
For the “Fragrant World” tour, Yeasayer’s hauling along a stage environment of which guitarist Anand Wilder said is “like we’re performing from a spaceship.”
Working with Vice Magazine and Intel’s “The Creators Project” – a partnership between the two companies to help elevate new artists – Yeasayer teamed up with architects, visual artists and more to build a stage setup that far surpasses the typical rock staple of lights and lasers.
“It’s supposed to make it so the audience is fully immersed in the sound and the visuals of the band, so that sometimes they’re blinded, sometimes they can’t see anything,” Wilder said, “it’s to make them feel it’s not like a rock show, it’s to make them feel like they’re a complete part of the experience.”
Replete with mirrored, angular surfaces and surreal projections, the setup towers over the band like massive, monolithic crystals—the iridescent fractals amounting to some sort of visual canvas that’s controlled live, syncing up with the band for a unique show every night.
“I think it kind of plays into a lot of the previous visual setups that we were going through before, with photography for the band,” Wilder said on the stage design. “With a lot of mirrors reflecting back at the audience, and these lights kind of mutate colors constantly. They’re great.”
Yeasayer’s commitment to experimentation doesn’t stop at the visual aspects, though. Their debut LP, “All Hour Cymbals,” was an experimental rock album bursting with interesting synth textures layered over soothing vocal work.
The second release, “Odd Blood,” showed the bands evolution to something more along the lines of psychedelic pop—marrying complex sonic experimentation with insidiously catchy pop structures. The lyrical subject matter is all over the map; from boxing, to love, to breaking up with a girlfriend via alcoholism.
“Fragrant World” is another departure, this time putting a dark and foreboding spin on R&B. These tracks are as likely to get you dancing as they are to give you nightmares.
This just goes to show—the only thing the audience can expect is the unexpected.
“We like to do something a little bit different with every recording,” said Wilder on their new album. “We didn’t feel like we needed to repeat ourselves. We always kind of worked under the theory that, you know, it’s better to experiment and maybe not please everyone than to just kind of repeat ourselves, even if that was maybe more successful.”
Even Yeasayer’s music videos transcend the typical, pedestrian and continually rehashed footage of a band playing music. The videos seem less a story, and more an experience in a world seen through the lens of Yeasayer. For the video of their single “Ambling Alp,” the band experimented with a 360-degree camera which fans could control—something like Google Streetview except in a music video.
Yeasayer first played in Northampton in 2009, accompanied by Ponytail. With two more albums and a fast-growing following, Yeasayer returns with Sinkane—a psychadelic solo project from Ahmed Gallab.
Doors open at 8:00 pm, so after polls close head to the Pearl Street Ballroom. Contact the Northampton Box Office for tickets.
Tom Barnes can be reached at [email protected]