Yonni: The Electric Tribe

Headed up by Nort (Hula, Cabaret Voltaire), Yonni have been around since the heady days of the late 90s when once they had the dubious honour of being ‘Housemates of the Week’ on The Big Breakfast.

Fast forward to 2014 and they’ve expanded to Polyphonic Spree size, a super collective of over a dozen Sheffield musicians and vocalists, including Simon Stafford of the Longpigs on trumpet and vocalists Stefano Esposito, Jessie Love and Chloe-Jade Simmons.

It makes The Electric Tribe a diverse affair, taking in ambient electronica, light opera, world music, industrial pop and all points in between. ‘Morte in Autunno’ has a sleepy middle-eastern feel, ‘My Cinema’ has the noughties Scandinavian ambience of Royksopp or Kings of Convenience, while the acoustic ‘Bicycle Day’, recorded for the soundtrack of a film of the same name, has the weary portentousness of a ballad by Pink Floyd or Led Zep.  There’s also two shades of Depeche Mode on display – ‘Klint’ could be a late period Dave Gahan number, while ‘Vertigo’ sounds like one of Martin Gore’s torch songs. At a stretch, you might even hear a melodic echo of Bucks Fizz’s Land of Make Believe in closing track, ‘Journeyman’. I mean this as a compliment.

Yonni have an array of vocalists to match this genre-hopping too.  Whoever sings on ‘The Only Reason To Dream’ is a bit Alison Goldfrappy, while the husky fella from Gomez turns up for ‘In The Shadows’ and tries his best Terence Trent d’Arby impersonation. There’s impressive operatics on ‘Morte in Autunno’ (I hope it’s not a sample) and there’s even a talky bit that sounds a bit like Stephen Hawking at one point.

These shifts in style certainly keep things interesting (even if they do come at the expense of a certain cohesion) and call to mind some of the ‘guest vocal’ acts of the past couple of decades.

In fact, it’s not difficult to picture yourself, early evening, in a field, cider in hand, slightly frazzled, swaying or strutting (whichever is your bag), as Yonni dish out these tunes at a summer festival.

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