Dirt marks the first album released from this Canadian Noh-wave prog collective in three years and if it isn’t already apparent from the cover art, they take quite a bit of influence from anime culture. In fact, this album was originally conceived as the soundtrack for an anime film that never released back in 1987 which had a bit to do with a concept called Haudenosaunee, which is even beyond my otaku ears. Sure, I might be working on Persona 5 as well as the Steins;Gate 0 visual novel in addition to finishing my inaugural viewing of the Super Sentai Zyuranger box set; but some of this is still quite a bit over my head. Additionally, YST are known for the soundtrack to the game Severed, so if you’ve played that and enjoyed the music there, you may want to pick up this one without me even going so far as to describe it.
There are some changes though, as the band now has a new singer in Joanna Delos Reyes and I cannot yet say as to whether or not this was a good or bad idea for them. I haven’t heard anything from the collective prior to this album, surprisingly; so I can’t make any contrasts in between the two vocalists that they’ve had. What I can tell you, is that this is the kind of soundtrack that fits somewhere in between Acid Mothers Temple and Yume Nikki. While psychedelic, it is also quite bombastic and contains touches of Boris here and there as well. The first song that I decided to check out from the album as soon as it appeared in my inbox was “Yandere” a term that I was familair with from my tenure spent in various visual novel groups. I’d also recommend it is a great place to start for people who are new to the act and looking for something a bit more accessible in comparison to much of the glorious weirdness present on the disc. Shamefully, I’ll admit that I would have expected the lyrical nature to be a little more sadistic, considering the topic but you have to keep in mind that the record also focuses heavily on Buddhist philosophy. In other words, it’s not the kind of record that you’d expect from that song title alone.
That being said, Dirt is the band’s heaviest album and features guitarist Hiroki Tanaka laying down some rather punchy riffs while the dazzling keyboards of Brendan Swanson work to demonstrate everything that I’d rather hear in video games these days, instead of the orchestral pomp that is just as commonplace in Hollywood films. “Beast” is a perfect example of this grand keyboard work, which is wonderfully splattered throughout the disc. Drummer Brandon Lim also lets loose on a couple of these cuts, providing what might be seen as more than a few metal touches on the album’s title track. The record is definitely identifiable as a full-on drug trip and I’d simply want nothing less. Dirt may as well be LSD and if you actually happen to have the PS1 game of the same name that I’m referring to, it may work as a great soundtrack for that too.
Once again, as I can’t compare this to any of the band’s previous albums, I cannot say for sure as to whether or not the handful of more accessible tracks on the disc is a common element for their albums or just something that they have added this time around to gain a much broader audience. Even so, I can’t certainly knock the weird psychy prog-pop of “Out Of Time” which I found to be a mesmerizing experience, far better than anything you’ll hear from the mainstream pop music scene. In my honest opinion, YST should be up for an award rather than most of the current Billboard nominees. Though that’s simply because Dirt isn’t just a heavy psych-prog album with touches of pop, its a unique work of art that we don’t get to hear very often in modern music these days. Some people believe that there is nothing new under the Sun, but Canada’s Yamantaka//Sonic Titan are certainly the exception to that age old rule.