Wednesday 21 June 2023

Yawning Balch - Volume One (Album Review)

Release Date: July 07th 2023. Record Label: Heavy Psych Sounds. Formats: CD/DD/Vinyl

Volume One: Tracklisting

Dreaming With Eyes Open

Cemetery Glitter

Low Pressure Valley


Gary Arce - Guitars

Bob Balch - Guitars, Synth

Billy Cordell - Bass

Bill Stinson - Drums


Yawning Balch is the new project featuring members of Yawning Man and Bob Balch from Stoner Rock legends FU MANCHU. You would be forgiven if you thought this project was reminiscent of Big Scenic Nowhere, the Desert Rock Supergroup that Bill Stinson, Gary Arce and Bob Balch played in previously. However, Yawning Balch manages to stand on their own creative ground compared to the other musical projects each member is personally involved with.

Sure, Yawning Balch is mostly an Instrumental Desert/Stoner Rock outfit but with Volume One their debut release, the band strive for a more Spaced Out journey thanks to Bob and Gary's love affair with different guitar pedals. This album was recorded in an individual five hour session and they've recorded two albums worth. Mind-blowing stuff especially when you listen to Volume One from these sessions. This album contains three tracks that are reminiscent of Yawning Man's most recent release but takes a more expansive and darker passage with hazy Progressive grooves with an element of Post-Doom behind them.

Opening song Dreaming With Eyes Open is a twenty-one minute plus opus that takes the more Cinematic route of delivering their music with. Parts Desert Rock, Psych, Fuzz and Gloomy Stoner rhythms are being played for the most part but with Yawning Balch playing a more subtle style of Doom Rock which can be quite heavy for the longer and extended grooves that allows the Ambient themes to grow naturally. The track is very multi-layered with Gary and Bob leading the creative charge though Bill and Billy providing a wonderfully diverse rhythm section for the music to fully move forward. Bob pulls another shift providing the haunting and soothing synths that's one of the best parts of the whole album. The later stages of the track become more Ambient and Post-Rock based with creepy glitchy sound effects offering a song that almost ends up becoming a Post-Metal track which shows you the different levels or areas of heaviness that Yawning Balch are willing to take.

Second song Cemetery Glitter opens with a cautious Post-Rock delivery with a sombre Desert Rock sound. The atmosphere is quite JAZZY but soon gives way to a healthy dose of Spaced Out Rock. Trippy synths and Ambient rhythms allows the band more time to deliver the extended grooves for an experimental Drone based charge. The song is cautiously slow but excels with the different creative nature of the track. Swirling noises and Stoner guitars adds another level of Psychedelic flair with Yawning Balch offering perhaps the gloomiest track on the album. The song excels the most when the Synths moves into heavier areas of Sonic based audio projcction. Some folks may complain the song should have included familiar Desert Rock jams but I feel Yawning Balch made the right call here. As this shows a different musical and creative persona whilst offering familiar sounds along the way.

Third song Low Pressure Valley is the shortest track on the album running under seven and a half minutes. This reminds me of Yawning Man and Big Scenic Nowhere for the first few moments before that heavy Ambient driven Post-Rock score slowly changes the narrative and structure of the song. Yawning Balch take their time here. As the song does move cautiously slowly but it's a dark and twisted flavour of music that elevates this album into more Trascendental areas of Desert/Stoner Rock. Highly melodic with a bleak sense of Desert Rock optimism that leaves the album on a mighty high.

Volume One is a very different sounding release to Yawning Man's recent album Long Walk Of The Navajo. They both have similar things in common but Volume One is perhaps a darker and more experimental take on the Desert/Stoner Rock sound that these four members have helped to create and define over the last thirty five years or so. 

This is a wonderfully complex album which will rank as one of the best Instrumental Rock albums of the year which Yawning Man has already delivered with Long Walk Of The Navajo. Lighting does strike twice. Roll on Volume Two.

Words by Steve Howe

Thanks to Claire at Purple Sage PR for the promo.

Volume One is available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl via Heavy Psych Sounds from July 07th 2023.