Album Reviews

Yea Big – The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms

(Jib Door) UK release date: 28 February 2006


If you’re a crazy guy like me, or, to put it more modestly… if, like me, you’re not so crazy, then this is an LP to open the pores widely to the blissful breeze of madness.

Stefan Robinson (aka Yea Big) is a white man who makes no pretensions to being black, but just is, matriculating with cutting edge Chicago alt hip hop pals like Kid Static and Spunky Toofers to make a CD that rolls along like the greatest party of your life upside down, and a night of sci-fi dreams on the ceiling.

Following on in the burgeoning Chicago tradition of hip hop experimentation (Yea Big was a key contributor to last year’s Oh Astro project that threw up the amazing Hello World EP) The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms has a genuine humour, consideration and insight in its avant-garde stylings, Robinson constantly jump cutting his more manic pieces to bursts of humorous and visceral brevity and drawing out only the more digestible innovations with the successful pretence of composition.

Several short, abstract numbers like Look for and Remove Any Foreign Objects Seen in Mouth (six seconds of tuning your radio with your head inside the electronics), revel in an anarchically disruptive mischief, giving way each time to nights and twilights of cinematic sci-fi of varying temperament. But We Will Try Nonetheless is one of numerous tracks that sound like they’re coming out of a pretty fine subterranean disco, while Neurosis of the Giver is an outsider’s soundtrack to the inner world of Speedy Gonzales.

The Yea Big retinue rarely fail to take advantage of their second by second creative ethos, and inspirational asides are sprinkled alongside instrumental humour like gold dust. Exquisitely, Firstmeal has Robinson interject the album’s most incomprehensible avant-garde mixings with an apology for “fucking up”, before starting again, while Manufacturing Morals takes the comically improvisational biscuit by being the exaggerated sound of someone eating from his fish bowl while busy at the typewriter.

After establishing the LP’s status as veritable funhouse of arch hip hop imagination and cranial shake-ups, when the times comes Robinson takes to the more bona fide compositions with a different kind of nocturnal intent. It will be Tasteful is a night of sleep in reverse, possibly after attending a Yea Big party, a quaint triangle tapping lending a certain lucidity to its dreamy, perversely atmospheric strut, while in My Principles Far Outweigh My Common Sense, a manic phone call voice is taken out of context and carved into an impressive movement of warped percussion.

Keeping the fun rolling, Neurosis of the Giver is a soothing, coconut-clapping dance around technological embers, and Nice People are Those Who Have Nasty Minds is a fragmented mesh of improvisatory guitar that breaks into an extraordinary melody before giving way to the next ascent of beats, only to resume on its meandering way in the next.

From The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms, one can only conceive the life of Robinson and his pals as an endless jaunt of night hours, the closest it ever gets to day being a peculiar starry twilight, which presumably testifies to its illusive charm. With not so much as an [overly] introverted egghead in site, here we have a pinball machine of obtuse and thrilling sounds, caressed into context with the vision of hip hop masters and appetite of lunatics. It fits a sane man like the eye-opening needles of Dario Argento’s murderer in Opera.


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Yea Big – The Wind That Blows the Robot’s Arms