Yard: Goodbye Detroit
Yard Rec

Goodbye Detroit, Chris H. Jones' latest Yard offering, brings to a close a three-album trilogy that began with Deciduous Flood Plains (Concrete Plastic, 2007) and carried on with Celestial Acid (Further Records, 2011). The latest release wasn't created after the second one, however, as production on its title track began in Seattle in 2007 with the album as a whole reaching completion in 2011 in Portland. Whether the Yard project will continue or not after Goodbye Detroit is left unclear; there's certainly a hint that that's possible (accompanying the release is text that includes the words “Goodbye dogma. Goodbye stigma. Goodbye fashion. Goodbye hype. Goodbye industry. Goodbye everything”), or perhaps Jones will return but with a radical reinvention of the project (also hinted at in the words “Of giving up, only to begin again”). The album title itself suggests that the latter might be more likely, given that the album's conceptual concerns include the industrial, man-made environment but also the idea of leaving it for another place altogether.

Opener “Drumtime” is a no-holds-barred techno burner that stokes serious heat with six minutes of pounding bass drums, claps, wiry synthesizer patterns, and metronomik hi-hats. “Rec” opens at a less furious pace—at ten minutes, it has time to do so—but rapidly picks up steam, such that by the three-minute mark it's pushing ahead with single-minded determination. Having established hi-hats and drums as a locomotive base, Jones experiments liberally with the track's other elements, amplifying them some of the time but stripping them back, too, making for an always-unpredictable ride. “Detroit Birds” kicks into gear with squiggly acid-synth patterns and a slamming drum groove, with both complemented by a slithering bass figure and radiant synth washes. Things appear to go awry halfway through the trip when a collapse occurs, but the moment is short-lived and the music resumes apace as if no breakdown transpired.

The change in mood arrives with the fourth track, when the moodscape “Dirt2” plunges the album into darker territory and when the pretty, ambient-styled soundscape “Piano” eschews beats altogether. A pulse is present in “Glowing Moon,” but it's now slowed, de-energized, and the focus instead turns to warbly drones. At album's end, “Goodbye Detroit” signals a recovery of sorts in its sunny uplift, and its re-animated beats sound healthy once more. The album thus follows an unusual trajectory in that its initial tracks are unadulterated techno workouts, while its later pieces downplay the hard techno style for something more contemplative. One might read Goodbye Detroit on a thematic level as disillusionment setting in after an initial embrace of a better possible future offered by technology, followed by an eleventh-hour recognition that other options are available and worth exploring. Perhaps that vertical sliver of nature on the album cover is also hinting as much.

February 2013