Review: 4 stars
The album Transitions from C S Yeh (C. Specer Yeh) offers listeners a break from the current norms of pop music. Throughout the past few years, Yeh has established a name for himself when it comes to experimental music. Transitions, from DE STIJL records, has a mix of trance-inducing instrumentals and distorted vocals that help to further cement Yeh’s experimental sound.
The 10-track album begins with the bass heavy, “The New Guy,” and starts off Transitions with a nice dose of a solid garage rock sound.
“Starts with a Look,” brings listeners to more experimental territory with an electro pop sound and distorted monotone vocals that still succeed in entrancing the listener. “Starts with a Look” sparks intrigue due to Yeh’s instrumental style, yet this intrigue fizzles with the third track “Whose Life.” The beginning of “Whose Life” seems promising since it mixes electro pop and garage rock without being too messy, but the track starts to lose its appeal once the vocals come in. The instrumentals juxtapose with Yeh’s off-key vocals, but the song sounds more clumsy than experimental.
“Transitions,” is easily a standout song, successfully doling out another jolt to the album as Yeh uses his distorted trance setting vocals once again.
The next track, “Masculine Infinity,” is among the more experimental tracks on the album. With echoing vocals and lyrics like, “One year you built a castle. Thrice sons I bared for thee. Spencer one, Spencer two, Spencer three.” At first listen, this track reveals Yeh’s vocals to be a bit jarring. Yet, its synthpop style saves the song by garnering a few more listens. Eventually the vocals become less distracting and more tolerable.
“Don’t Make Me Chase You,” further takes listeners into C S Yeh’s experimental style. At first, the vocals seem unintelligible, but after a closer listen Yeh can be heard saying “don’t make me chase you” in a heavily-produced slow drawl. The song continues as he sets an eerie tone while repeating “Don’t make me chase you.”
“Rooms on Fire,” keeps the pace of the non-confirmative sound and showcases Yeh’s vocal ingenuity.
None of the songs on Transitions sound the same and that is partly because Yeh consistently changes his vocal style.
Since his vocals differ in each song, tracks can be very hit or miss for listeners that may not enjoy his more off-key and natural vocals compared to the more produced ones. In “Something Forever,” Yeh returns to his natural voice and, despite its off putting monotone sound, this track works better than “Whose Life.”
By the time “Laugh Track” comes on, Yeh’s natural voice grows on a listener. It becomes easier to sit back and enjoy the fearless ingenuity of the album instead of trying to tune it out.
Closing out Transitions is “I Can Read Your Mind,” an epic-like track that ends on the trance setting note present throughout Transitions. By the time the album is over, regardless of whether it was enjoyable or not, it is tough to deny that the album brings forth a complete listening experience. Yeh’s vocals are sometimes awkward and jarring, but his skillful attempt to give listeners a sound that they’ve never heard before makes this album memorable and appreciated.