A personal perspective on yunis' Amygdala EP
An early insight into an upcoming release on YUKU.
yunis sets a very interesting premise with this EP. The title alone caught my eye immediately and hailed me back to the days where I studied neurology. The amygdala is the section of brain matter which is generally known to process feelings and emotions, and deals with the perception of them. yunis speaks about the perception of emotions, and the difficulties of the constant doubt of whether or not they are perceived correctly. As someone who has been diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome, this story directly speaks to me. A difficult thing in my own life is constantly wondering what someone means by what they say or do, or how they perceive what I say myself. To me, yunis presents a theme that is not commonly discussed let alone understood, relating to subjects such as social interaction and perhaps even social reclusion. How much of this relates to yunis himself I do not know, but this is how I perceive the message.
Starting in alphabetical order, Dirty solo comes first. The track's name could be linked to the EP's theme discussed earlier, pointing towards reclusion and lonerism. Many people's minds, myself included, are the most innovative and extraordinary when they are on their own. Dirty solo starts off trying to confuse you with its scratchy effects before revealing the actual tempo underneath. The declining pattern of the scratches over the beat is a very interesting technique. I seem to recall hearing this before but I can't exactly remember where. I really like the snare in this one, I believe it fits the track very well. It also appears that yunis has left a cat in the track somewhere halfway. Another thing that is easily overlooked here is how incredibly well the hats have been laid out in this track. They are slightly late but on tempo, and their sound varies as the track progresses. In the later section of the track yunis layers a very minimal breakbeat over the track. I'm not entirely sure on how to listen to this exactly, though it is but a minor distraction from what is a very solid track to start the EP with.
Fractals starts out ominous, after which it drops into a lovely deep groove. A few bars later this drops even deeper where the ominous howling sound of the bass really carries the track forward. The little intermittent beeps fill in the high end perfectly and as such this little section that I just described is a high contender for one of the favourite bits of the EP. The drums in this track are a bit more low key and take a slight background to the bass, which is obviously the intention here. The bassline evolves a bit more further down the track to add some welcome diversity. This is a very simple track but it does everything right for me except for one thing... it's length. I do so wish yunis would make his tracks just a tad longer! This shouldn't understate how absolutely excellent this track is though, especially the aforementioned first section.
A slightly more mellow track, judging by the name perhaps it relates to personal events or describes an emotional connection. Here is a track that relies more on subtlety and melody to bring its point across, the intro section being notably easier going than most of the other tracks on this EP. The track however still dives down into something heavier in typical yunis fashion. This track shows a very fine balance between the usual heavy halftime style and a more mellow piece of music. This is demonstrated especially well when listening to the snare, which I can't get over how perfectly it is done and how well it fits in the track. It's a woodier snare, it has quite a bit of click behind it yet it is so incredibly clean at the same time. Whilst not my favourite of the EP, I believe that this is certainly one of the most interesting tracks on it in terms of composition and track layout.
Another track which for me links into my perceived theme of the EP, perhaps following the same trail as Dirty Solo. Hiding place opens up gently but it doesn't take long before it drops with it's massive, growling, earth-shaking bassline, which is the absolute centrepiece of this track. The drums do very little except for moving the bass forward which is exactly what is needed here. A big pitfall for tracks like these is repetition, but yunis has expertly layered the track sections with their own individual elements and effects that give it the necessary diversity to keep it interesting as the track moves along. There is a very welcome break in the middle of the track after which the madness continues. I do feel that this secondary section is a bit too short; it stops right after it gets going again. I would have liked to see it go on a bit longer but I’m probably beating a dead horse here. The outro that follows this bit is brilliant however, which allows the track to roll out on its own pace, and perhaps the listener to take a little breather. Excellent work!
Limbic (Value of Stimuli)
The limbic system of the human brain contains many nerve clusters involved in things like emotion, decision making, intuition and perception and is thus an overarching term for anything related to these things. Limbic, as a track, is so absolutely surreal and incredible that it is easily the overarching track of this entire EP. This is the one that has caught the ear of many people and it is fairly evident why. I have quite honestly never heard anything so bizarre yet so expertly executed at the same time… like… seriously yunis, how did you come up with this?!
Limbic's main two tone lead features this completely next-level synthwork which warps into all kinds of distorted craziness as the track progresses. It snarls and screeches and it sounds as though it wants to attack you, yet it is never obnoxious and completely clean in execution. To top this off, after the second drop, just after the lead has morphed into something else, it "destabilizes" and turns back to normal in what is perhaps one of the greatest mid-track transitions I have ever heard. I interpret this track as being a metaphor for the overstimulated mind; the lead synth representing a constantly altering chaotic influx of information. I have nothing but praise for this track. After the Depth EP, I had yunis in mind as someone who could take it very far. Even this track alone has shown me that he has more than lived up to that expectation.
Ajna (with Rohaan)
I will admit, I had to look this title up. Ajna being apparently the chakra representing something akin to a third eye. So where Limbic is a more scientific nomer, Ajna is its more spiritual parallel. yunis teams up with Rohaan on this one, which I was excited about considering their Granite collab was my favourite off of yunis' previous EP. I'm afraid I can't say the same about Ajna: it feels as though there's something missing in this track for me. It's quite a mellow piece, not as heavy as many of the preceding tracks. The centrepiece of the track is the synth which I would describe as a dark flute, which is supported by a matching bassline and a drum pattern featuring some interesting hats. This is about as far as it goes for me as I feel that the track is a bit dry and empty. The track does not progress much beyond this. There are a few layered effects and synths that are added down the line yet I feel that they do not match the theme of the track very well. Whilst this is by no means a bad track I’m not feeling it as much as most of the others. Like I said, with all the depth of the other tracks on this EP I feel that I am missing something here. Who knows...
Kosmos (with SRP)
I feel like I’ve speculated enough about the meaning behind the track titles in this review so I’m just not going to do it for this one. Hehe. Kosmos is interesting because of its lead, more specifically its pattern. I found the synth itself to be a bit too gritty, not very easy to listen to. The lead melody also features a "double key", which I have expressed my opinions about in the past. My ears cannot grasp what key the track is supposed to be in, therefore lacking an anchor point which makes a track easier to listen to. I also normally don't complain too much about dragging in yunis' tracks, but I do feel that the beat here is out of sync. Intentional, I know, but not to my taste. The track gets better for me when it passes the break, after which an oscillating filter is introduced to the lead. This both sounds interesting and adds a wonky feel to it which connects the lead much better with the late drums. The track continues to evolve after this; the lead going up an octave and some soothing pads being introduced to back the now, for me, much better sounding melody. This track faces some stiff competition in this EP, and unfortunately does not come out on top for me. It is regardless an interesting piece doing a good job of displaying the diverse range of sonics that yunis comes up with.
I do not know what yunis' intended meaning is behind this EP, my speculations are merely how I perceive it. What I do believe is that there is a lot of personality in this EP, and that makes it very special. yunis' Depth EP on MethLab was excellent and for me a very good showcase of his talent. Amygdala takes this diverse talent and adds cohesion and personality (and an extra track), which makes this EP even better than yunis' last. There is much more than just music to be found here and I would much like to know the true message behind this EP. yunis pretty much single handedly got me to like halftime, a genre that I was very stoical about, and as such I was very excited for this EP to land. I can truthfully say it has exceeded all my expectations. Well done!
Final rating: 9/10
Favourite track: Limbic (Value of Stimuli)
Amygdala will release later this year on the 10th of September on Yuku. Pre-orders for the vinyl release are now being taken on the Yuku bandcamp which can be found here.
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