YAGULL – KAI – MOONJUNE RECORDS

Some years ago I was lucky enough to come across the debut album from Yagull, ‘Films’. At that point in their career the band was Sasha Markovic on guitars, bass, percussion, voice and keyboards with a few guests on some of the songs. There were a couple of co-writes, two cover versions (incredible takes on “White Room” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath”) , but the rest were all written by Markovic. I was immediately taken by the acoustic “post-rock chamber soundtrack”, and likened them to Karda Estra. But when they returned with their second album, ‘Kai’, the group had doubled in size to a duo as Markovic had been joined by pianist Kana Kamitsubo, who is also his wife (they names the album and title track after their son, who was born in 2014). This time around there is only one song credited just to Markovic, and sometimes he is credited after his wife, plus there are another couple of covers.

Guests again feature on some of the songs, most notably Moonjune artists Beledo and Dewa Budjana, but I found that it is the songs where it is just the two of them where they come across best. There is no need at all for anything special, just an acoustic guitar and piano, played by two people who know each other intimately and can accompany the other in perfect harmony. This is restful music, and when Budjana made his appearance on electric guitar on “Blossom” I was actually quite disappointed. I have been a fan of Budjana’s for years, but to my ears his delicate electric guitar was out of place on this acoustic album. The interplay between the two musicians in simply beautiful, there is no other word for it, and I would have preferred to have heard an album filled just with their songs, with no other musicians, as there is no need for the purity of their sound to be messed with. Again there are two cover versions of classic rock songs, but this time they don’t work quite as well. Of the two, “Wishing Well” is well worth hearing, with some wonderful guitar, but “Burn” doesn’t really gel as it should.

But overall this is still an incredible album, and if they trust themselves and record a full album of their own material, with no outside “help”, then the next one could be very, very special indeed. http://www.yagull.com/

8/10 by Kev Rowland

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