They describe their sound as Noh-Wave (as in Japanese Noh "opera") - and so I was expecting something exotic and complicated as all Hell. But in essence, it's more space rock than anything else - and what a fine Japanese tradition that is. Certainly "sonic titan" is not far from that mark.
Opens with rain and thunder following by thundering drums. Then "Queens" steps into quite prog territory. Reading an interview with Pitchfork, it seems that while taking account of Buddhism and Boris, Yt // St are rooted firmly under the shadow of a father's love for Iron "In A Gadda Da Vida" Butterfly. I can't remember what current affairs programme used to have the same growling keyboard sound - was it "World In Action"?
"Oak of Guernica" is lovely in a way that I find hard to describe. There are waves and a touch of majesty and a hell of a lot of reverb, but not in the swampy way that a lot of stuff murks about. "Reverse Crystal // Murder of a Spider" has a grungey edge and the sound of gigantic windscreen wipers moving at a glacial pace across the continents. I'm actually banging my head to it, while I think of Veruca Salt (the band).
"Hoshi Neko" starts out like Daft Punk with live drums then the vocals remind me of "Hit Me Baby One More Time" in a way that I'd need someone with a better grasp of musicology (or indeed music) to explain to me. Minor sevenths or infantilised progressions or somesuch McGuffinery. Even finds time to sound like "Julia Dream" by The Floyd before it's done.
"Crystal Fortress Over the Sea of Trees" marks the exit with a classy title, some funky astral keyboard and plans to shatter the inner Death Star of the Dark Side in all of us with precision galaxial groove. Or something like that. Sonic titans they are and no doubt. I think I may have mentioned that already. Then suddenly, the rock is gone and there is only some meditative song left to mark the spot where the thunder struck. (Yes, I know thunder doesn't strike - tell AC/DC.)
Less overtly oriental to the ear than their stage outfits might suggest. Much more about the heavy rock and the wind tunnel of the imagination. And I like it.
Rating: Madame Iron Butterfly out of Gadda-da-Vida