YYSSN cs328









YYSSN is an exquisite album of guitar improvisations from Minnesota-born, HK-raised and Berlin resident Eric Wong. A free improviser by trade, Wong’s approach of augmenting his playing using digital processes opens up pathways that help him circumnavigate that tricky post-Derek Bailey impasse, that long shadow that falls across many of his axe-wrangling peers. Wong’s processing is relatively simple – some Max patches, including a delay that generates echoes in random pitches and an FM modulator used for vibrato, hooked up to Ableton Live – but the result is inventive. True, Wong does seem to have Bailey’s spindly intervals spliced into his DNA, but the spiralling clusters of notes triggered by his live digital interventions lend YYSSN a unique filigree appeal, the almost-impossible string-born structures skittering out from his instrument like baby spiders swarming from their eggs.
It’s on Yee that the Bailey influence is most identifiable, Wong channelling the particular fractured stillness that made those 1970s Incus recordings simultaneously so thrilling and meditative. Here, though, there’s less space, with Wong’s every glassy run echoed by a chorus of pitch-shifted squeaks and coos. It’s not a duet, exactly, more like a call and response routine between a human and their mainframe. Charmingly un-slick, it gets increasingly frazzled as it goes on, piling on the metallic crashes and hectic tape-like unspools in manic abandon. Ng, meanwhile, is a Yee’s jazzier cousin, more experienced and worldly, its isolated plucked chords rising out of a pool of silence, only occasionally rousing itself with a few languid runs.
Other tracks transmogrify the guitar’s original sound completely. Saam’s continuing warp is a narcoleptic take on the rock god plectrum slash, Wong scraping up and down his strings to create a continuing heave that’s less Bon Jovi, more like steel cables straining to pull a dreadnought into its dry dock. Album opener Yut defamiliarises Wong’s technique to similar effect. At first, the insistent rhythmic pops of fingers hitting the dampened strings bring to mind John Martyn’s retro Echoplex chatter, but the awareness that the looping cycles are getting more ragged highlights the fact that this is a human rather than machine-led activity. There’s a prickly tension to the onward push, the percussive strokes sounding like hundreds of tiny corks exploding from bottles. Sei, meanwhile is totally alien, dominated by chirruping electronics and twinkling synths that seem desperate to excise the last vestiges of messy humanity from its hybrid form. The chirps and caws are positively avian, a murder of android rooks with a single directive: purge the system of the human virus. Paul Margree (Weneednoswords)

Minneapolis-born Hong Kong raised and Berlin-based guitar performer Eric Wong is the author of this amazing release on Portuguese label Creative Sources, named after the initial of each of the five pieces he collected here. Since the opening track "Yut", where he interlocks fast tapping, rubbing and pizzicato on his guitar together with sound processing that could let you think he's trying to change the state of matter of this amalgamation of guitar-driven sounds (if you can imagine audible elements as a physical entity), a listener can quickly catch his full command of the devices he handles as well as the inventiveness of his approach to the instrument. I particularly enjoyed that sort of stressing test that Eric proposed on the central track "Saam", where decaying low tones that disfigured the sound of guitar follows almost five minutes of over-strained and over-compressed guitar tones - a technique that sound reprised in the last part of the track -, and the bizarre "Sei", where the listeners can imagine that Eric managed to render an imaginary alien shop of cuckoo clocks by a weird alternation between a strange chirping and sudden cogs of such a chirping stream. The starting point of the other tracks - "Yee" and the final "NG" - are isolated guitar chords, that he gradually processed and dissected according to an approach that could let you think of unexpected and unrepeatable moments of manic lucidity by an experienced guitarist. Vito Camarretta (Chain DLK)