Into the Abyss With Nasstasia Yard

The following review was originally published by Monday Magazine:

It comes as a mixed blessing that Nasstasia Yard’s debut EP “For Someone Else” occupies a mere centimeter or so of spooled analogue tape. While the beatific beauty manifest in each of these four songs leaves us craving more, the most casual listen also confronts us with a distilled, monstrous form of melancholy that few dare to observe, much less confront. But with “For Someone Else” Yard stares at her monster’s bared, bloody teeth and proceeds to embrace him with broken arms; lucky listeners are the beneficiaries of her enormous bravery.

The darkness Yard confronts on “For Someone Else” is mirrored by its cover. A child’s face is shrouded by darkness; a silent scream bursts from open lips. The look in the child’s eyes, a disturbing alloy of terror and rage, does not extend a glimmer of comfort or hope. We don’t simply observe her pain; we are responsible for it. These songs were composed for someone else, after-all.

Yard channels the child’s silent cry with “Generate”, the album’s tiny first track, which recalls Elliot Smith’s earliest lo-fi recordings. While completely devoid of hope, Yard’s voice is strikingly beautiful in its vulnerability. Yard promises that if she “could keep generating more to give” she’d keep going; just as the song comes to premature halt. We are forced to follow Yard into the abyss.

For the rest of the album, Yard’s weary voice somehow summons the necessary strength to plod through a haunting territory of textures which include dropped pennies, shattered wine glasses and wire brushes. When the play button pops up at the end of side two, we are relieved though undoubtedly our instinct is to turn the tape over for another go.

A musical equivalent to a Lars von Trier film, Yard tastefully conveys a darkness that is tragically ignored in our cheap and shallow North American culture. The album is not intended to the weak of heart. But I urge you to summon the necessary courage, listen, and listen often. You will be rewarded.


This entry was posted in Around Victoria, Mental Health, Music and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Into the Abyss With Nasstasia Yard

  1. Wow, Nick!!! What a great review! Really makes me want to hear this, but also makes me dread hearing her pain!!!

  2. earseyesbrain says:

    Wow. The comparison to Elliott Smith sure set me up for disappointment. Even Smith’s earliest music was richly developed and part of the beauty was in its striking contrast with the compromised recording quality. Not everyone seems to realize that his early lo-fi aesthetic was not for effect. It was 1994 and Smith had to borrow the four track and the guitar. So here we are in 2012 and everyone has access to recording technologies but people want lo-fi (and tapes apparently) because they are novelty seeking and can’t tell the difference between a shallow musical aesthetic and a well constructed song. Yard’s music is composed of repetitive, uninspired fragments, made sickeningly precious by the contrived overdubs. Titles like “insurrect” are just insulting because this singer obviously has nothing to say outside of personal life…

    • Hi Earseyesbrain,

      First of all, thanks for reading! I really appreciate you checking out the blog and thoughtfully critiquing the review.

      I must disagree on a few points, however. First of all, even as early as the eponymous solo debut, Smith would have had access to not only a guitar but a studio as well as he’d already recorded with Heatmiser. I think the notion of him as being a lo-fi purist (that is, choosing more archaic forms of recording out of desperation rather than aesthetic) is misquided.

      Second, the comparison between Yard and Smith was meant to be more in terms of theme than musicianship… both songwriters craft extremely confessional songs. I think the interior life says much about things that happen “outside the personal life”.

      Thanks again for reading.

  3. Ouch says:

    I know who that person is…

  4. Nasstasia says:

    Dear Earseyesbrain:
    My “low fi aesthetic” is not for effect. You should know the person before you make such judgements. Ironically in response to your assumptions, I was given a 4 track to record cause I couldn’t afford a computer at the time and I happened to had to borrow a guitar too…I am on disability assistance, I don’t make any money. I also used my sister’s computer to record those songs. If I could afford to have my songs mastered, or if I had the time, money, and mental health to record more professionally, I would, but the sound of these recordings are a result of my honest situation at the time. You don’t have to like what I do, but you also should be careful to judge before you know the whole picture. As for being released on cassette, it was not my intention, but my friend’s suggestion as he offered to release it on his local distro and I went with it because the support was greatly welcomed and appreciated. Believe it or not, regardless of the era, not everyone has accessibility to everything.

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