(Navalorama Records, 2017)
Chances are you’ve heard me talk about Yadayn before, the recording moniker of Belgian artist Gowaart van den Bossche, whether it was his debut album Vloed or its follow-up Pendel. What ostensibly is a framework that needs a lot of vision and imagination to sustain success—the baseline of a single, plucked acoustic guitar—becomes a foundation of sheer tensile strength in the hands of Yadayn, who wields his instrument like the gentlest weapon aimed straight at the hearts of human beings the world over. If Woody Guthrie’s guitar killed fascists (oh Woody, where are you and your acerbic wit now?), Yadayn’s kills the passive zombies we’ve all become, lining us all up and mowing us down with the genuine sensation of shared existence.
Adem means “breath” in Dutch, and it is as close to a lowest common denominator that we all have going for us. We all take oxygen into our lungs, we all expel out carbon dioxide. It nourishes our blood and allows us to continue living. It’s an involuntary function, something the brain sets on autopilot at birth while it tends to more pressing cognitive matters. Yadayn plays his guitar like he breathes – naturally, without pretense, as an extension of his unconscious mind, fingers floating over the strings like a breeze, the melodies teased as natural and organic as birdsong.
And Adem begins there but blossoms into majestic and intricate storylines, each note a particular incarnation of the artist’s inner monologue. Yadayn imbues his music with as much hope as pathos, and it’s through this dichotomy that we’re able to truly comprehend the bittersweet intentions of it all. And the additional elements Yadayn has added to Adem – sustained feedback ending “Zee,” spoken voices and non-guitar instrumentation on “Ruimte” (as minimally post rock as you can get), extra guitar at the end of fifteen-minute masterpiece “Tijd” – only serve to punctuate the core feature of Yadayn’s music: the single acoustic guitar. It’s folk music for classical fans, and it’s unafraid to wear its feelings on its (record) sleeve. Adem is as comforting as it is magnificent, and it goes straight for the proverbial jugular of human emotion. We should be used to this from Yadayn by now, but it sounds new every time.