Yo La Tengo, nearly four decades into their career, remains one of the oddest, most beguiling experimental rock acts in the business, trading as it does between sturdy indie rock, off-the-cuff noise, and ambient sprawl. As it did on 2018's There’s A Riot Going On, the latter dominates on the instrumental We Have Amnesia Sometimes, a surprise collection the band recorded (while social distancing) over 10 days this past April and May. They’ve been teasing out the project on their Bandcamp page this week, and today dropped the 5-track album in full.
The freeform tunes are sometimes calming, sometimes dissonant, and always meditative, built atop fuzzy drones, squalls of electric guitar, and terse percussion. The band’s wry humor is present, too, with song titles that include “James and Ira demonstrate mysticism and some confusion holds” and “Ira searches for the slide, sort of.”
Listen to it below.
Frontman Ira Kaplan shared a statement along with the new tunes, which he says began with the hope that they might create “something useful for the future.” Read it below.
If you’ve spent any time hanging out with us at our rehearsal space in Hoboken—that pretty much covers none of you—you’ve heard us playing formlessly (he said, trying to sidestep the word “improvising”). Most of the songs we’ve written in the last 25 years have begun that way, but often we do it for no other reason than to push away the outside world.
In late April, with the outside world weighing on everybody, we determined that the three of us could assemble in Hoboken without disobeying the rules laid out by Governor Murphy, and resumed . . . “practicing” hardly describes it, because we’ve done no practicing per se, and anyway what would we be practicing for . . . playing. James set up one microphone in the middle of the room in case we stumbled on something useful for the future. Instead we decided to release some of the things we did right now.
Yo La Tengo will celebrate the release of the tracks with a pair of virtual performances on Saturday, July 18 at 9 p.m. ET and Sunday, July 19 at 1 p.m. ET. Tickets are available here, with all proceeds benefitting the Brennan Center For Justice. You can also get yourself a vinyl copy of We Have Amnesia Sometimes over at the group’s Bandcamp page.