Sphinx and Yeti. A Wild and Dangerous Place
Sphinx and Yeti/Bandcamp, 2013.
Sphinx and Yeti: http://www.sphinxandyeti.bandcamp.com/
Sphinx and Yeti began as the creative child of Marshall Leggett, of The Ambit, Eco Guerrillas, Dead Silence and Hit & Run. Leggett is a composer and percussionist, and in 2012 began looking for a way to blend full drum ensembles and complex, free-form music. In this way, Leggett serves as something of a modern-day band leader of an evolving instrumental group skilled at improvisation. Individual tracks meld a variety of artist combinations, with countless variations, though all are excellent ambient music, and couple especially well with literature. Influences include everything from swing and angular jazz, to flamenco and South Asian traditional music.
A Wild and Dangerous Place is a first album, but assembled from quality parts and orchestrated by a skilled engineer. The individual tracks typically have their own theme or repeated phrase, although they do fit together well, as if they were separate chapters within one coherent tome. Some sections of the album even seem like something out of an epic movie. The variety of sounds, textures, and cadences keep the mind entertained, and multiple listenings simply bring more details to notice.
One of the highlights of A Wild and Dangerous Place include the Live to Fight Another Day, which starts out slow and methodically, before launching into a rousing Spanish guitar-driven piece. Breathing Sand has a far more North African-Middle Easter flavor to if, with the drumming that personifies this piece. Caravan continues this sound for a bit, with tinges of other influences; a veritable digital caravan with parties from all over. The title track blends more familiar riffs and lines, but mixed in with more exotic elements. In a “And now, for something completely different” style, Quick Little Animals harkens to a cross between a Western camp fire song and a flamenco. Taking a darker, more dolorous tone is Scheming Thieves, which seems to hide low whispers in among the general din of a bazaar. Migration has a plodding, consistent theme with highlights along the way as stopping points on a journey. But What Does it Do? features a high-pitched, almost whiny guest instrument, possibly the source of the title, but with playful little lines that make you ask what it is that makes this sound. Reverberating sounds, like a series of chimes, ring clear and calmly in The Secret Room, which also features solid driving beats on various percussion instruments in a pleasant but discordant manner. Unlike its title, The Race does not seem to rush toward a conclusion, but lope along in a meandering way, with bursts of speed interspersed throughout. The final track, Valley of Waterfalls, has a choppy, broken quality that almost seems like many almost dry waterfalls running just about out of water right as a storm rushes in. The in-the-nick-of-time staccato voice leaves the ending a bit up in the air, like there should be more to the album, but alas, that’s the end for this musical voyage.
This album just came out at the end of May, so you can still get this gem while it’s piping hot, or ice cold if you’re more a fan of the jazz influences. With the summer season getting started, plan a night on the patio with close friends and enjoy a mental trip around the world. Complete the evening with a themed multi-cultural meal or drinks, and you’ve got a great evening staycation.
Tracks: Breathing Sand, Caravan, A Wild and Dangerous Place, Quick Little Animals, Scheming Thieves, Migration, But What Does it Do?, Live to Fight Another Day, The Secret Room, The Race, Valley of the Waterfalls