Richard Youngs – Ein Klein Nein

4 out of 5

Label: VHF Records

Produced by: Richard Youngs (?)

Four minimalist but edgy tracks, constructed around sparse percussion and some other central element – keys, feedback, guitar, or voice.

Three of these cuts really work for me, playing in to the type of drone that appeals – drifting; open; and somewhat loose. The approach on Ein Klein Nein is very haunting in that regard, affecting soundscapes that are potentially pretty or, fuzzy psych stuff as on Klein Ein, but Youngs veers it toward something much more ominous and contemplative by keeping it so minimal, and paced. This very much matches with the cover photography of criss-crossed tracks in the snow, plodding to and fro forever.

Opener Ein Klein is a steady beat, a piano, and a third tone which buzzes away consistently. The general sound is rather peaceful, but the track’s refusal to budge – while almost maintaining an element of humanity in how it’s played – gives it its ominousness.

Followup Klein Nein is my favorite, effecting a similar piano but now led by some very piercing strings / feedback which is punctuated by occasional percussion. Youngs trades off between these elements randomly, but satisfyingly, never falling into straight repetition, and holding silences to the breaking point.

Klein Ein is, as mentioned, as bit louder, with a hazed-up guitar burying its drums, and riffing behind a gigantic wall of fuzz for ten minutes. This is scary stuff after the comparative quiet of the previous tracks, and there’s a lot of unrest happening at different points along the way, if buried ‘neath that wall.

Closer Nein Klein is the one where the concept falls flat to my ears, as it loses the relative dynamism of the other songs – it’s very repetitive, and doesn’t criss-cross its elements too much. Its clipped percussion, sole piano note, and the sound of (I think) Youngs exhaling are all very disparate. If a bit shorter than its eight minutes, I think this could be an effective closer – it’s definitely still a haunting bit of sounds – but it’s still the weakest of the lot.