It might go without saying, but from his early exorcisms in the apocalyptic slitherings of The Jesus Lizard, to the sweaty and volcanic Scratch Acid and now his first solo album, Tonight You Look Like A Spider, David Yow is a different kind of creature. Apparently, it was on fellow well-traveled artist Mike Patton’s recommendation that Yow explore things as a solo artist, and like Patton, Yow shows a different shade of weird. Those who are only peripherally familiar with Yow might be taken aback by some of the compositions here, as they don’t seem to have too much in common with the feral style he exemplified in his previous projects. To fans though, the uneasiness and mania of Yow are in full display here, perhaps in even more uncomfortable ways.
Look no further than the opening track, the ten minute “Opening Suite,” which begins with storm cloud atmospherics before introducing a piano sheet that sounds as if Scott Joplin was possessed by the devil in the middle of performing “The Entertainer.” Pushing even further into unsettling territory, Yow introduces what sound like genuine animal screeches over the top of it all. The rest of the track bounces back and forth between the same kind of haunting atmospherics it began with, as well as the nervous pounding of piano chords.
As strange as the opener appears, it is one of the more memorable tracks from the record, which is filled with different sketches of the Yow psysche. “Bleth My Thoul” is a minute long rabble-rouser which rides a industrial guitar riff, while “The Door” gives what sounds like the listener’s first ever encounter with a bottling plant as a lead instrument. The somewhat cleverly titled “Lawrence of A Labia” and closer “Visualize This” give atmospherics and little else. However, with the kind of art Yow has produced in his previous incarnations, one would be hard pressed to argue these types of sounds weren’t in him all along. That said, even in the experimental context of the record, these are the lower points.
This is not to say that there aren’t some interesting moments here, as the title track showcases a nice, deformed kind of groove built around pounding piano and skittering drums that play like the soundtrack to a David Lynch short film. Elsewhere, “Uncle” and “Senator Robinson’s Speech” are through and through the music of psychotic nightmares, but work for what they are. “Roundhouse,” one of the lone tracks here to feature “vocals” so to speak, with it’s syrupy opening narration, jaunts along with an ’80s-style elastic bass and synth coupling, while layering it with more fodder from bad dreams.
Although not really a pleasant affair, Tonight You Look Like A Spider is nonetheless an interesting one, filled with a exploratory sense of sound. Between the long brooding suites, and the short nightmarish sketches, Yow continues to carve out an insanity that is not unlike his previous output, but is regardless chiefly, and uniquely his own.