David Youngs – In Between Silence

Album Review | Asana | Review by Marc Higgins | Stars: 4/5

David Youngs is a melodic, quirky and an always interesting guitar player, if me telling you that isn’t enough, then it should be abundantly clear by the end of this his latest album.  From the first notes of “Where Memories Go” the opener, a combination of his technique and his ability to weave in the unexpected holds your attention.  “Where Memories Go” is a brave nine minutes long, but there is no plodding, or sense that it overstays its welcome.  For the first few minutes, a percussive attack, that recalls Michael Hedges, is melded with wonderful melodies that evoke the pastoral acoustic early Pat Metheny.  Little touches of effects and sparkle fade in and out.  The final section builds around a wonderful folk finger-picked motif that is cinematic in the way it creates an atmosphere and a sense of space.  “And So it Goes” is wonderful twister with some very rhythmic percussive playing that is compelling, but restrained without any of the histrionics that can creep in.  What marks David Youngs out, is the way that he can musically change gear in the middle of a piece, as he does with the middle section of “And So it Goes”, so maintaining your wonderment right up until the last resonating string fades away.  “Mutster” is an older piece with a wonderful folky feel that brings to mind the dancing fingers of John Renbourn.  But again some very dubby studio flourishes with reverb keep you guessing up until the end.  “To Catch a Star” is an exercise in balance, with the ying of some very trippy percussive playing balanced by yang passages all about space and the picking of the strings.  “Chevrons Apart”, taken at a slower more contemplative pace, is a piece about distance and the space between people.  Just when you thought it was all about the darting fingers, Youngs, builds an emotional tension by slowing the tempo right down.  “Pieces of Me” is a wonderfully simple melody with some wonderfully flourishes thrown in just before a demon passage of phasing that sounds disturbingly like a cassette getting wrapped round the inside of your player – a little retro torment for those of us old enough to remember the hell of the tape.  “Mono No Aware” continues this contemplative eye of the storm with a drifting languid melody.  “Troisieme” is a track composed using a dropped tuning introduced by Michael Hedges and as a kind of homage, some of flourishes are dropped in at the start, before the track builds into a frenzy of picking that breaks, with some tape devilment as a gear change.  “Pearls”, a title that I like to think nods to David Youngs’ ability to reveal his playing in layers, evokes the rambling French Chateau where it was written, the notes and spaces suggesting long corridors and wooden floors.  The final track “Katy”, Again book ends the album as confidently and comprehensively as “Where Memories Go”.  This final piece is all about space, allowing you to lose yourself in the space between the low bass notes and the chiming melody picked over the top.  Enthralling and shifting, just when you think you’ve got him figured out, a percussive thump on the guitar body or a temp shift calls a change in this six stringed, ‘acoustic guitar barn dance’ of a player.  An album and a guitarist that you can fall into, so time just slips away.