Local CD Review: Yak Strangler: 'Your Body Is a Wonderland'

Yak Strangler

Your Body Is a Wonderland

With Your Body Is a Wonderland, Knoxville-based instrumental duo Yak Strangler welds together a junkyard full of broken musical toys into a magnificent yet terrifying aural sculpture. The album is full of surprises that somehow cohere as a singular work; the band is never boring, but be prepared for a wild ride.

At its core, Yak Strangler is a blues band. Barely out of their teens, guitarist Chris Newman and drummer Rylan Bledsoe deliver a greasy sound that somehow brings to mind the proto-metal psychedelia of Mountain and Blue Cheer. Tracks like "Walnut Biscuits" and the aptly titled "Mutha Funkin' Blues Turkey" show the band's roots and are more immediately accessible than some of the other tracks.

But when the band branches out from this psych/blues/metal bedrock, things get really exciting. Yak Strangler veers briefly into funk and prog and then hits paydirt with the cathedral-like complexities of "Chalice" and "A Tight Squeeze." Operating without a vocalist or bassist, the band has to take continuing musical risks to keep things interesting. Thankfully, this musical daredevilry pays off in spades—recalling adventursome groups like Gone, Slint, and Mastodon. Yak Strangler turns out challenging, cinematic music that is still rock 'n' roll at its core. Enter if you dare.