Youth Lagoon – Wondrous Bughouse (Fat Possum)

March 13, 2013 by  

youth-lagoon-wondrous-bughouse

The Year of Hibernation was a headphone record. The concrète collage of sounds that Trevor Powers pieced together during the summer of 2010 – during his first year of college – sounded a whole lot better when it was taken intravenously, like you were immersing yourself in the shallow waters of a sensory deprivation tank, relaxing, and floating downstream.

A lot of weird and wacky things influence albums; usually chemical, sometimes spiritual, sometimes banal. Wondrous Bughouse, Powers’ second album under the Youth Lagoon (paddling pool?) moniker, tries to draw all of those things together. During its recording, the young musician became “more fascinated with the human psyche and where the spiritual meets the physical world”, and how he could build a (metaphorical) bridge between those things. That’s, er, pretty heady stuff, dude.

I have no idea what any of that means, and listening to Wondrous Bughouse, I don’t think I’m any closer to understanding – the low-in-the-mix, filtered vocals don’t much help with that. What I do know for sure is that the eclectic sound of his first album is improved upon: a kaleidoscopic run through of psychedelia, found sounds and Powers’ own voice (which sounds an eerie amount like Bradford Cox’s) which, without being pushed to the forefront, is mixed and muddied in with everything else going on – guitars, drums, tape loops, the resonant strings that haunt tracks like ‘Dropla’ – in any given song.

Like The Year of Hibernation, Wondrous Bughouse doesn’t sound quite finished – in a good way. For such a buoyant, ambient record, it’s still really engaging. It’s like a shuffling of papers, anxious in its swapping around of musical ideas, melodies, and lyrical excerpts from Powers’ diaries. It never gets boring, but it also isn’t in anything resembling a hurry; it holds your attention whilst urging you to switch off your brain and just listen.

The second dip into the lagoon is deeper, warmer, clearer – you’ll want to stay submerged until your skin goes all weird and pruney.

[rating:4]


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