Rating: You knew, when El Michels Affair released tripped-out Eastern pysch-funk 45 Unathi b/w Zaharila all the way back in 2018, that there was a whole LP of this sort of stuff on the way. You just didn’t realise that it was going to be the album after the next album (which turned out to be last year’s Adult Themes) that they released. Indeed, not only did you have to wait until the whole Adult Themes buzz had subsided you also had to wait while the band rebuilt the Yeti Season buzz with a few more tantalising singles – among them, January’s Murkit Gem. But while hitherto as elusive as the creature it is named after, there have now been multiple confirmed sitings of Yeti Season in the wild and you can rest assured that it is very much released.
As indicated above, the sonic template on this one seems to be derived from equal parts Turkish psych-funk of the sort released by Black Pearl Records on their excellent Bosporus Bridges compilations and psychedelic Indian soul from back in the day. Of course the latter impression is significantly boosted by the fact that Piya Malik of Big Crown signings 79.5 sings on four of the tracks included (Unathi, Zaharila, Murkit Gem (video below) and Dhuaan) and that these are pretty equally spaced throughout the tracklisting, stylistically encompassing alt-soul and trippy psychedelia. There is only one other vocal cut on the LP and this again features a Big Crown female signing, Shannon Wise of The Shacks, who lends Sha Na Na’s mellower vibe a – well – Shacks-ish air. The remaining cuts tend towards the mellower end of what the album has to offer but in their atmospherics demonstrate why the band is one of the first names that comes to mind when thinking about contemporary cinematic soul. Taken as a whole, what you have is a set of the quality that transcends genre and sub-genres which is perhaps why (with everything the site has to offer) it was Bandcamp’s ‘Album of the day’ last week and is getting recognition in Rolling Stone. And yes, you can expect to see this in the monkey’s top LPs of 2021 at the end of the year.
(Out now on Big Crown Records)