Damaged Lethal Harmonies

by Zac Keiller & Heath Yonaites

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Second Language Records Two of my favourite artists together. And it's brilliant. What's not to love?
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(InPress) Initially it appears that Zac Keiller and Heath Yonaites have continued with similar drifting rumbling drones on their Damaged Lethal Harmonies (Dreamland Recordings), that is until some urgent acoustic folk action kicks in. However there is much extraneous sonic debris and gorgeous brooding sound scape work, not to mention melodic harmonies in this strange incredibly diverse and quite beautiful work. Utilizing guitar, bass, some weird looking folks called The Melbourne Subterranean Children's Choir, drones, banjo, and charango amongst other instruments, Damaged Lethal Harmonies refuses to be pigeonholed into recognizable or easily identifiable categories. A hybrid of acoustic and electronic, dangerous sound scapes erupt into gentle banjo strumming and vice versa. Anything is possible in this lush challenging world.

(Opus Magazine) Maybe it was the skull and crossbones and the radiation symbol on the front cover. Or maybe it was the presence of the words "Damaged Lethal Harmonies". But whatever the case, I somehow got it into my mind Damaged Lethal Harmonies by Zac Keiller and Heath Yonaites would be one of those "extreme" recordings. Something akin to the Japanoise scene, or boasting a battery of power electronics. The truth is far more genteel, and, I suspect, more pleasant and interesting. Utilizing sound sources ranging from banjo and charango (a guitar-like instrument from the Andes mountains) to the Melbourne Subterranean Children's Choir, Damaged Lethal Harmonies offers up a series of brooding atmospheric pieces that, upon closer listen, aren't quite as brooding as initially thought. "Solenoid Entry" begins with the obligatory drone cloud, complete with Blade Runner-esque tonal shifts. But shortly thereafter, a rapidly strummed acoustic guitar and swiftly descending bassline break through the clouds, sounding quite at odds with the atmospherics before, and yet not sounding out of place at all. And that's just the first two movements. Later movements include more distant, murky guitarwork and an almost folk-like chanting that wouldn't be too out of place on a Woven Hand disc. "Entirely Soon" gets my pick as the strongest track on here, simply because it has the bravery and intuition to combine shimmering strands of melancholy, 4AD-ish sound with the dulcet tones of a banjo. The two perfectly balance each other out - the banjo adds a structure and sharpness around which the layers of drones can array themselves. The piece feels like an endless denouement, always caught in the act of fading out, and yet when it does end, it's rather jarring. The disc ends with "Serotonin Delay", a constantly shifting and spluttering mass of sound sources whose puzzling and kaleidoscopic nature makes it feel like several Susumu Yokota songs rolled into one (which, I suspect, is due largely to its origins as a remix and sample exchange project). All in all, a very strange yet beguiling recording that always keeps the listener guessing, from its title and artwork - which I can only assume was meant somewhat tongue-in-cheek – onwards.

(Legends Magazine) Damaged Lethal Harmonies is a very slow moving but smooth brew. The duo of Zac Keiller and Heath Yonaites build sound from the surrounding quiet, growing from seemingly nothing. Solenoid Entry is the nearly ten minute opener to this four track CD and slides in almost subconsciously before acoustic guitar takes control and slides easily through a chord progression backed by a subtle floating bass. Quickly it disappears leaving you in the growing quietude once again. Waves of ambience wash over the track. This continues throughout Damaged Lethal Harmonies as each track smoothly slides in to seat itself comfortably next to the previous. The result is a CD that will go by so cleanly that you'll hardly notice its there even if it's breathing comfort into your ears. It becomes so subconscious that it fades into the background where it lives and spins its life in the deepest reaches of your mind. Even if you turn up the volume, Damaged Lethal Harmonies is so brilliantly concocted that it remains behind you regardless of how loud you play it - I'm listening to it on headphones right now and I barely recalled it was there. You'll be jolted back into the music with Serotonin Delay which opens with a vocal sample reminding you that Damaged Lethal Harmonies is still around. The following music of this track is still just as light and subtle as the rest and will spend the next five plus minutes stepping away from your world as the CD finishes, occasionally stepping into the light with a short acoustic, rhythmic or melodic serenade just as a continual reminder of its existence. Damaged Lethal Harmonies is certainly going to be an acquired taste what-with the whole music-noise debate that's always around. But the subtle nature of Kilgore's and Yonaites' work set them apart as masters at creating music that's just under the radar, where true ambience is supposed to lie quietly as it breathes to you, soothing cares away.

(Funprox) On this release, Zac Keiller and Heath Yonaites are supported by The Melbourne Subterrenean Childrens Choir (on a picture on the back sleeve they are shown temporarily above ground). The Subterranean Children bring a lot of awe in this release. They sing and moan throughout the drones which are created out of string instruments and electronics. Most of the times one singular drone keeps continuing; static but quite rich, heavy and overthrowing. I wouldn’t call the overall atmosphere on this album dark, it’s more serene and by times beautiful. Also the guitar is brought into play sometimes. It doesn’t continue in the same experimental vein but brings a poppy joy into the songs. ‘Serotonin delay’ is a perfect example of the diversity of this collaboration, since it incorporates electronics, accessible pop, and rich ambient. Also melody is omnipresent, especially in the beautiful track ‘Entirely soon’, which could be written by Sigur Ros or Slowdive. ‘Damaged lethal harmonies’ isn’t quite lethal, but it exerts a strong, irresistible force.

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released January 1, 2005

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