Insects vs. Robots
TheyllKillYaa (Hen House Studios)
Reviewed by Greg Beets, Fri., Dec. 23, 2016
Led by Willie Nelson's son Micah, this Venice Beach, Calif., quintet's second 2016 release spools forth in multiple stream-of-consciousness tendrils held together by eclectic instrumentation and musical acumen. Nelson's nimble charango picking and Nikita Sorokin's effects-sodden strings remain key sonic delineations. While TheyllKillYaa sometimes stretches tangents too far afield, frenetic evolution keeps this seven-song string-band/prog-rock hybrid from collapsing. Oddly enough, the lead-off title track – recorded during a police shooting outside the studio – resonates least, meandering. A bit more form and the potency to the song's unconventional time signature might have grown fivefold. The band's ability to reconcile disparate styles becomes evident when hokum trips the lights in Brecht's Berlin on "Become a Crow," while the cinematic "Fukushima" opens with a forlorn piano before exploding in epic psychedelic doom. Ten-minute closer "Ole Lukøje" borrows a page from Hans Christian Andersen, skittering across the astral plane on the draft of Nelson and Sorokin's lilting interplay before guitarist Milo Gonzalez brings it home with a big rock candy climax.