O Yuki Conjugate “Tension of Opposites: Vol. 1 & Vol. 2”

Tension of Opposites originally came out last year, but is thankfully being reissued as a beautiful double-vinyl edition on World of Echo. Recorded in the early stages of the pandemic, O Yuki Conjugate’s opus is a showcase for the journey that can be found within the gleaming corridors built on introspective sonic minimalism. Across 14 tracks and nearly 90 minutes, empty landscapes are built into prismatic worlds and expansive sonorous universes before disintegrating and starting the process again. It’s a long haul, but each vignette offers a glimpse of something new.

Among many interesting facets of Tensions of Opposites, the way the album is sequenced remains one of my favorite aspects. O Yuki Conjugate founders Andrew Hulme and Roger Horberry basically split this into two separate solo endeavors, connected through their collaborative spirit and 40+ year history working together. The first 11 songs are Horberry’s, all of which are five minutes or less where the last four, Hulme’s, take on longer forms and oydssies. Simulteanously there is a different spirit to each artist’s pieces, but Tension of Opposites is at its best when experienced whole. Hulme and Horberry connect themes and ideas in new and interesting ways, leaving space for listeners to add their own shading.

On Horberry’s sides, subtitled At Variance, liminal details morph into larger aural pools. The shimmering gloss of “Contra” is inviting, like the opening of liquid metal orb where amorphous shabes dance in strange colors along the surface. Crystalline tones seep in to spark the imagination. Weightlessness drifts with spectral harp progressions on “Crosswise.” It’s a beguiling jewel shrouded in cotton candy clouds where wistful memories settle in next to ancestral remnants and starcrossed senses. It’s a beautiful, glistening courtyard illuminating its sterile surroundings.

If the first six songs of At Variance send us high into the atmosphere, the flipside is where we float back to Earth.. Dark clouds move in on “Inimical” as the horizon looms beneath minor chords and tremolo picking sheets. Pensive reflections on all that’s lost feed othe melancholic “Antonym.” With space, it trickles into green shoots filtering through “Sunder” with lilting arrangements floating amongst the sea birds and aqueous tones. The cycle is complete as hope sings in full blossom on the enigmatic splendor of “A Far Cry,” a cathartic end to Horberry’s two sides.

Hulme opens his offering with “Unfolding,” a slow moving soundscape with views of new life burgeoning from humid interstellar swamps before growing in all directions with a starkissed flicker. Enveloping us in an expressive sheen, we scuttle forward to find the next chapter still being written. Sparse and rhythmic nightshade bounces with a metallic twinge “Ravishment” before dissolving into something minimalist and modern where it feels like being stuck inside a capsule-like space habitat.
Electronic debris closes off distant channels, giving closer “I Don’t Know I’m Not a Dream” an insular feeling that’s buoyed by paranoid bass sequences and airy flute drones, ending the journey where it all began in melodic arpeggios and intimate aural meditations. Tensions of Opposites is sprawling and makes excellent use of all that space. Horberry and Hulme may be 40 years in, but this is some of their best ever work.

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