Album review: Yobrepus - Mycelium Days (2020)
It took from 2006 to 2017 and a lot of help for Mats Jørgen Sivertsen to record and release the first Yobrepus album BLAKC MOULD. The follow-up, MYCELIUM DAYS, with its title a continuation of a fungal theme, had a shorter gestation. It was released in September 2020.
Along with Sivertsen (guitars, keyboards and vocals) are bassist Vegard Weyergang Vartdal, the only member of the current line-up to appear on the first album, drummer Paal Urdal and keyboard player Øyvind Rognerud.
Other reviewers have indicated similarities between bits of Yobrepus’ music and Radiohead, Paul McCartney, Pink Floyd and A-ha, and I can confirm that the band do dip in and out of an eclectic bag of styles. The broad brush category they fall into is post-rock. They’re certainly experimental, and Sivertsen has suggested that MYCELIUM DAYS hints at his King Crimson and Porcupine Tree influences, adding more prog to the finished product. Structured in a similar way to Pink Floyd’s 1970 album ATOM HEART MOTHER with a side-long title suite followed by shorter, unrelated tracks (ATOM HEART MOTHER has four tracks on the second side of the original LP and MYCELIUM DAYS has five), I think there’s a fairly heavy Pink Floyd influence at play in the title track. Not only does it have a cinematic and atmospheric introduction which I feel is a defining part of post-Waters Pink Floyd instrumentals, there’s a section with Rick Wright-like electric piano; a laid-back grove and languid singing with thoughtful lyrics is reminiscent of the structure of the first two verses of ECHOES. There are interesting things going on under vocals, they break sections with dissonance, I can hear trip-hop and parts that remind me of Radiohead. The heavy moments could well be inspired by Porcupine Tree. I’m not the person to ask about A-ha, though I do know that when they became Norway’s top musical export in the mid-80s plying uplifting pop, the trio themselves were irked that music critics couldn’t see beneath the shiny surface of their songs where the application of classical theory and a rich harmonic language made them mini-symphonic masterpieces straight out of the book of prog. Yobrepus certainly employ unusual song structures.
The five shorter tracks don’t have the development of the title track, but they’re not uninteresting and could have been influenced by Peter Gabriel. STEP UP is really experimental and PIAO reminds me of Brian Eno’s BEFORE AND AFTER SCIENCE.
Overall it’s a great effort and would interest anyone who likes adventurous music.
Just to de-mystify the band’s name, Yobrepus is Superboy backwards and originates from Sivertsen writing in mirror images as a boy. For those of us who find an English pronunciation awkward, it’s said to sound perfectly OK in Norwegian.