With ESP-Disk releasing new artists concurrently with the gradual reissue of its back catalog, Yuganaut’s music fits the spirit of the label. The trio straddles grounded compositions and improvisations that get both spacey and chaotic. Speaking of space, opening statement “Running” fades in like a transmission from another planet, with Stephen Rush cranking old-style wheezes and bloops from a Moog over Tom Abbs’ probing bass and Geoff Mann’s feisty drums. Before the track ends, Mann drops the sticks and blares on a cornet, Rush switches to Rhodes, and Abbs picks up both the didgeridoo and tuba briefly.
This game of instrument swapping continues throughout This Musicship, with Rush expanding the sound palette most frequently, using game calls, ocarina and slide whistle, to name a few. Each track lists all the instruments and the order in which they appear, which makes for fun listening. Plus, instead of blasting on a euphonium or plucking the mandolin simply because it’s within arm’s reach, the members of Yuganaut sound committed to accessorizing the textures. They occasionally evoke a more electric version of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and “Hymn for Roscoe” indicates that it’s no coincidence, starting with guttural noises and shifting into a genuine spiritual melody over a second-line beat. The 10-minute opus also shows they’ve done their homework.