Sioum is a band from Chicago, returning after almost six years of silent tribulation and dogged determination attempting to finish and release their sophomore album. Six years is a very long time, even for an established band, not to mention an emerging one. However, having been fortunate enough to listen to a preview of Sioum’s upcoming release, titled “Yet Further”, all I can say is that it is a sheer feat of brilliance and a testament to the value of resilience bolstering talent.
The record has a peculiar structure, prompting me to tease more than I’d normally like to. Technically it is comprised of seven tracks, but in fact four of these tracks function as two pairs, hence the oddly spelled name on this, the third track on the record. That might sound convoluted, and yet, once one starts listening to the music, all confusion fades into irrelevance as it becomes crystal clear that the band’s command of flow is just staggering. I’m not referring only to rhythmic patterns here, although they are formidable, scintillating things of musical geometry, but rather to narrative pacing, to the subtle ebb and flow of acceleration, ferocity and gentle, meditative passages. The track breathes and speaks on a macro level, and it is all the more fascinating as this narrative layering is scaled up throughout the whole record.
Sioum manage a rare and exhilarating act: bending one’s perception of time – the track becomes a vast, complex musical space in which the listener is apt to get completely immersed. They accomplish this through the use of significant and yet seamless variations, subtle shifts in tempo, apparently random accents which evoke breathtaking urgency, only to gently dissipate into melancholy passages, and then reemerge, over and over. The sense of scale and drama portrayed in this track is something I haven’t heard in a long time, and it is thoroughly satisfying. Perhaps the most surprising aspect is that, personally, this track feeds a hunger I wasn’t even aware I had until listening.
“Yet Further” is produced by Greg Norman, who has greatly contributed to the recorded sound of bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pelican and Russian Circles, and this influence definitely shows. The vastness I was mentioning before is achieved both from a compositional perspective, and by simply allowing the various layers to breathe. The track sounds like there are generous swaths of silence buffering each stratum of sound, and this greatly adds to the three-dimensional, almost corporeal quality of the song.
The band are currently in the middle of their Kickstarter campaign to fund making physical copies of “Yet Further” (CD and vinyl) and other bits of merchandise, as well as ensuring their ability to schedule tours and generally empower this record to have as massive an impact as possible. As far as I’m concerned, it ought to be on par with Tunguska. The Arctic Drones mission has always been bringing amazing and yet obscure bands into the radar of passionate listeners. This is probably the closest I’ve felt to working towards that mission.
Hopefully you’ll enjoy the fantastic maelstrom that Sioum offer, and that “and Technological Advancements” will whet your appetite for more. Do let us know what you think in the comments!