YOKO PWNO – Artefacts (SRCDX006)

ArtefactsYoko Pwno (not a typo) released Artefacts earlier this year. The album is an enjoyable crossover between folk and modern electronic styles (also not a typo).

To quote from their publicity material “Fronted by the twin fiddles of whisky-fuelled folk maestro Lewis Williamson and classically trained RCS graduate Lissa Robertson, Yoko Pwno deliver a joyful fusion of original folk tunes, showstopping vocals and quirky electronic beats”. How to describe it? Imagine that the devil, instead of going to Georgia, went to a dance club in Scotland – he’d still lose; so would Charlie Daniels.

The video below links to ‘Shipwreck’, a techno beat opening moving not to electronic keyboard but to fiddle, the tempo moving from dance to country fiddle to soulful – the music topped off with an expressive vocal and a hypnotic refrain “I’m a shipwreck on the shores of you”. All this is matched in the video with fast cutting; images of modern dance and traditional promenade both getting a look in. It’s a pretty fair visual representation of what Yoko Pwno’s musical fusion can achieve across the whole of the album.

Artefacts is predominantly self-penned, ten tracks holding the attention. ‘GMoD’ and ‘The Airt O The Deil’ are both just over four minutes long but could easily become long extended dance pieces which wouldn’t tire in the early hours of the morning. ‘When I’m Wearing Thin’ moves from repetitive refrain, hidden almost rapped lyric, a voice appearing from out of the depths which hints at the band’s vocal power; ‘Drive’, the next track, highlights the vocal even more. ‘Feeding John Magnets’ is another instrumental, – traditional music stretched by a science fiction undertone; ‘BloodSexSugarDiabetes’ (still not a typo) does something similar, but this time with a vocal undertone, before it moves to driving drums which hold various leads together. ‘Prepaid Meter Blues’ takes us to Scottish folk-rap; ‘Bothy Rumba’ is another fusion, more chill zone than dancefloor – though the concluding fiddle would wake you if you were completely spaced out. The album closes with ‘Evolution’ on which Lissa Robertson’s soulful vocal and a steady drum beat pull the music into dance while the violins and whistle pull it into folk and the tradition. It’s a nice way to finish as this balance is emblematic of the creative tension of the album as a whole.

When I got the chance to review the album, I glanced at a few videos on YouTube and replied to the effect that, from a brief flick through, I wasn’t sure whether I liked it but I was fascinated. Multiple listenings later, I’m still fascinated by this fine fusion of influences – and I like it.

Mike Wistow

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‘Shipwreck’ – the single live: