For an electronic duo to create as much mayhem as Yip-Yip does seems impossible, seeing as there are only four hands between them. In The Reptile House, the duo’s latest, is a dirty, dirty, dirty mixture of acidic thumps and non-melodic melodies crashing around an atrium made of extremely brittle glass. Yip-Yip have no little ability to scare the crap out of a listener, but they retain enough musical panache to keep the listener’s demise an interesting one. And with song titles as informed and mature as “California Fart,” it’s anybody’s guess as to who we’re dealing with here.
Yip-Yip are secretive, dress in black and white checked suits from head to toe and are as aesthetically brash and intoxicating as their ferociously cerebral and ballsy music. They are based as much on intrigue as they are based on musical excitement, and they play both cards extremely well. The music itself is unmistakeably stamped with their squidgy beats and muddy squelches of melodic keyboards, but so entrenched in the dark mystery behind its creators that involvement becomes mandatory. You cannot choose Yip-Yip, Yip-Yip choose you.
The brass swellings of “Noodles” are exceptionally well balanced against the electro-cowbell nonsense that runs through the song, with no objectives but to thrill listeners into a groove. These are two men that know how to weigh sounds against one another so that they work for mutual gain. It is not down to intuition (such is the way with tech-heavy music), but it certainly is down to intelligence and an innate sense of the scale of sounds and their placement. The joyously un-hummable “Pony Up” is obtusely bleepy in a grimy, under-nourished sort of fashion, but the sheer energy it exudes from its core of cheap old keyboards and dodgy Moogs is thrilling.
The doomy resonance of “Keeper of the Seal” is humorous (and maybe steals a little from Hans Zimmer’s soundtrack to The Lion King), but the focus remains on the intricacies in the ant farm of background noises. There are explosions, fights, pummelling percussion and a pad-load of attitude encapsulated on In The Reptile House. Each element sits uncomfortably next to its neighbour, and the ensuing tension is where the shocks and dances come from. In short, they are pure fun made to look like an exercise in vulgarity. This is a good thing. And with this as their central value, Yip-Yip’s invention and creativity has a perfect playpen to destroy. The twitchy disco of “Double Dolphin” is as melodic as they get, sounding like a Gameboy humping RÃ¶yksopp and not calling the next day. But then it shambles on into the next track with absolutely no warning at all, leaving the listener barely able to catch a breath before the next bout of inter-machine disco-intercourse or whatever this is.
Where Yip-Yip succeeds is in making this odd world so lucid, so inhabitable, despite how frightening it might be. It is the near-interminable fact that there is no antidote, no lush orchestration or cooed vocodering, that makes this world so interesting. It is not by force that Yip-Yip ensnare, it is by their sheer brain-intruding power. Brutal, brutal listening.
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