Hailing from New York, composer and guitarist Sasha Markovic with the band Yagull delivers “films,” a chamber acoustic project that’s full of melodies that are at once meaningful and easy to latch on to. Joining Markovic are Lori Reddy on flute, Eylon Tushiner on sax, and Sonia Choi, each providing a distinct atmosphere to the mix. Don’t expect head-spinning time signatures or lengthy Moog solos here; what Yagull is out to deliver, plain and simply, is a walk through melodious and delicate themes, evoking moods ranging from playful to dreary.
Kicking off the album is “Dark,” which opens up with a doubling cello/guitar to immediately imbue this track with a dark tone. This is immediately augmented by the entrance of a mournful violin melody. “Dark” immediately sets the standard for the album, showing a signature style that will continue throughout: a focus on simple, but powerful themes and all the fat trimmed from the arrangements. Following “Dark,” we transition to “Los Pajaros,” which presents us with relaxing and subdued acoustic guitar arpeggiation while the gentle woodwinds weave in and out of the guitar pattern. The result is a satisfying piece with a slight Latin feel that goes by quickly with the subtle way in which it builds its dynamic to a climax and then brings it down. The band then returns to bleaker moods with “East, which features a somber sax playing short variations on a phrase as it marries simple acoustic playing with an ambient jazz feel. Also noteworthy is “April,” making gentle use of phaser to provide subtle texture to the composition (subtle only if you’re not wearing headphones, that is). It masterfully employs a simple, hum-able motif on doubled acoustic guitar with some gentle solo musings and subtle tremolo techniques to lift your emotions as it nears the end. Also of note are “Mosquita,” which gives the distinct feel of an unplugged/instrumental version of a rock song, and of course, the two classic rock covers: Cream’s “White Room” and Black Sabbath’s “Sabbath, Bloody Sabbath.” The covers actually resulted quite interesting in the sense that they were completely devoured by Yagull’s distinctive sound and seemed so natural on the album; they even threw them in the middle of the record instead of at the end, perhaps for the very reason that they just seemed to fit.
So, why the title “films”? Perhaps it can be explained by the distinctive melodic approach of the album, the way in which each song sets up an instantly recognizable theme and then exploits it throughout the track. It could also be for the ‘feel’ oriented nature of the songs, the way in which each one evokes a definite sense of atmosphere in ways that you could really imagine these tracks going along great with a dramatic scene (somehow I keep picturing the classic ‘protagonist confesses his love as the two are getting drenched on a rainy metropolitan street’ scene). I’m sure the reader can come up with their connection for the album title, but suffice it to say that Yagull has produced a very enjoyable album with “films.” While it’s not something that I would likely just put on to devote 100% attention to, its strength lies in its ability to generate a mood, making it great music to put on and enjoy as you go throughout your day.