David Yow – Tonight You Look Like A Spider (Monolith Edition)
The Jesus Lizard were one of the most intense noise rock bands of the 90s; a loud, abrasive, and downright confrontational act who assaulted their audiences with concentrated blasts of distorted noise. At the center of it all was David Yow, a singer whose angry, howling vocals served as an exclamation point to the band’s already caustic and violent sound.
Now, 14 years after the group called it quits, David Yow is back with his debut solo record, Tonight You Look Like A Spider, and it’s even more in-your-face, brutal and disconcerting than anything The Jesus Lizard ever put out.
Just not in the way you might expect.
Tonight You Look Like A Spider is not a noise rock record. In fact, it’s not even a rock record. It’s a collection of experimental pieces, avant-garde journeys into the dark side of ambient soundscapes and sonic textures, 11 tracks of audio experiments designed to captivate and creep you out. Out-of-tune pianos and random electronic sounds accompany what sounds like a dying cat. Jazzy basslines echo through a dark chamber of drums and quiet, menacing whispers. Cacophonies of noise rattle your eardrums as dissonant explosions of sound fade in and out.
It is entirely unnerving and unrelentingly dark. Even when the music is quiet and somewhat pleasant to listen to, with tracks like the droning “Visualize This” or the low-key “Roundhouse,” it’s still unsettling, because they are just respites, deceitful pauses of harmony before the insanity attacks you again with the creepy computerized vocals of “Senator Robinsons Speech” or the violent, blistering assault of “The Door,” a track that’s literally just 90 seconds of uninterrupted feedback and screams.
But as jarring and disturbing as the album is, I do find myself returning to it, and I’m rarely a fan of this kind of music. I think it’s because there’s a cohesive feeling throughout the album, even when it swings wildly in mood and tone. It doesn’t feel random or out-of-control, it’s obvious that Yow was trying to create an overall mood with these pieces. Sure, that mood may be one of despair, fear and confusion, but hey, the world has enough pop music. It’s a brave album, and worthy of a listen even if it may sound less like music and more like the soundtrack to someone going insane.
And speaking of insane, let’s talk about this “packaging.”
There are three physical versions of Tonight You Look Like a Spider; a standard black vinyl release; a multi-colored grey vinyl; and the one you see above, the ultra-limited “monolith edition,” which comes with a special grey/black colored version of the album, the standard album sleeve and, oh yeah, a five pound concrete slab hand-crafted by David Yow himself that serves as a mount to display the record.
While I have a lot of records on display in my home, this is the first that I’ve felt is a genuine work of unique art. It may not be the most practical thing I’ve ever bought, but I’m so glad I made the purchase. It’s a striking piece, and its raw and industrial appearance serves perfectly as an accent to uncompromising and punishing sound of the album it displays.
And push comes to shove, I can probably use it to knock the fuck out a burglar.