After vowing a few years ago to abandon the physical format forever, Daniel Menche reconsidered and since then has been enjoying the most accomplished portion of his career to date. Branching out from solo noise and field recording excursions, he is joined here by Argentinian guitarist Anla Courtis, last encountered on the giant Gruenrekorder compilation Somewhere on the edge presenting sounds recorded on the outskirts of Buenos Aires.
Yagua Ovy would have been an unusual collaboration for anyone, but in the hands of these two artists, it is particularly so. The music – or perhaps more accurately, sound – reflects the legend of Mbya-Guarani’s “blue dog”, or werewolf. Thankfully this is not an obvious album by any stretch: no barks, no howls at the moon, no young actor ripping his shirt open and waiting for his image to be enhanced by CGI while a beautiful woman continues to question whether she prefers her men hairy or pale. This album represents the reclamation of the werewolf legend: mysterious, sinister and otherworldly, while remaining strangely familiar.
“Runa-Uturunco” sounds like pulleys and chains, heated breaths, fire extinguishers and garbage can lids, and bear traps being dragged by half-dead animals, frothing with madness. This might not be far from the truth, as pizza sauce cans and rocks are mentioned in the liner notes. A crazy cacophony grows in intensity like the racket made to frighten away evil spirits. Amplified crunches like boots on snow provide a sense of menace. Courtis’ guitar grows more rabid by the second, leading up to 90 seconds of odd percussion. Crackling ice and cavernous echoes haunt the opening moments of “El Relincho”, sounding like a hunting party on the trail of an elusive beast. Again, the conglomeration builds as it progresses, growing more insistent, more immediate, thicker in tone. The guitar provides a fuzzed bass backdrop, the harbinger of even deeper tones to come. By the end, the percussive sounds have descended into the dirt then risen back up, transformed.
Yagua Ovy might not sound specifically like a werewolf, but it does sound like danger. It’s a risk these two artists were brave enough to take, and the result is that they own the danger without taming it. The beast will no longer harm them, but everyone else is still fair game. (Richard Allen)