Under Stellar Stream

Communion. That's the one-word take I settled on for Richard Youngs's latest. Not without some mental struggle -- "prayer" covers the feel of the thing, but prayer is usually private. "Meditation" comes closer, but the introspective turn of that word often implies an object. Youngs zeros in on nothing more specific than nature, life, what's going on in front of his nose and probably yours.

An incredibly fecund Brit -- and one of the few souls brave enough to jam live with Jandek -- Youngs's back catalog wanders through electric English folk, acoustic English folk, solo piano with shrieking, minimalist musings, and finger-stab electronica. Always insistent and confident but never showboating into overkill, here he's deepened but not mellowed with age. Fatherhood makes a huge difference, and a few new songs refer to sleep deprivation. But this album marks a man getting right with life, asking the harder questions, and understanding answers won't come quickly (some other conditions common to first-time parenthood).

Instrumentation remains reserved throughout, but Youngs's electric organ unspools as the most crucial thread through such blooming loomings as "Arise Arise" and "All Day Monday and Tuesday." In its fundamental frequencies we hear the unwavering presence of the soul. In its vibrato and overtones, we hear the unceasing oscillation between that soul and the material world.

  • Album: Under Stellar Stream (2009)
  • Artist: Richard Youngs
  • Label: Jagjaguwar
  • Songs: (1) Broke Up by Night (2) All Day Monday and Tuesday (3) Cluster to a Star (4) Arise Arise (5) My Mind Is in Garlands (6) The Bells Of Spring

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