The soundsystem enigma that is Yunis has been making increasingly cerebral and funky beats in recent years and thus has teamed up with equally enigmatical label YUKU in order to release his latest brain massager of an LP, Amygdala. It’s so deep, it should really come with a warning label: do not attempt to operate heavy machinery or write reviews while listening. It’s just too chill.
There’s been a rash of deeper and deeper deep bass halftime tracks in recent years, starting with Ivy Lab and Shades and now making its way into lo-fi, hip hop and even generally faster genres like techno and drum and bass. No one’s complaining, however; we’re all too relaxed. Yunis has always been in the deep end of the deep bass pool, but Amygdala has taken it a few fathoms deeper, with bass and tones that may actually deliberately be designed to chill the listeners out. Why? Just look at the album’s title.
The amygdala is known as the fear center of the brain, located somewhere near the back (technical term, of course) of the temporal lobe. Part of the limbic system and responsible for processing emotional stimuli, the amygdala really gets to work when there’s a major stressor around. It’s responsible for the “fight or flight” response, for adrenal signals and letting us know how to respond to stressful situations. Given the current times, it’s likely many of our collective amygdalae have been firing on all cylinders for a while now and may be overworked. Enter: Yunis.
If given the right frequency, the amygdala is also partially responsible for calming the nervous system down. It’s unclear whether Yunis has used any of these frequencies or tones (often called solfeggio tones or binaural beats) in the EP Amygdala, but it’s a good bet since one of the tracks on the EP is literally called “Limbic (Value of Stimuli).” That particular track seems to play with different tones and beats that may affect the amygdala but it’s not always terribly calming. It seems to vacillate between deep beats and possibly some solfeggio tones in the ambient sound design, and sounds that are frayed and eerie and could provide a more classic “amydgala” response. Neuroscientists would likely have a field day studying the brain activity of someone listening to this track.
“Limbic” notwithstanding, Amygdala overall does provide a very relaxing vibe with its deep bass and funky, minimalist synth lines. There’s also a sort of narrative that goes with each song and, while the different tones and beats take their effect, the listener can become hyper-aware of these storylines. It’s sort of an enhanced listening experience brought on by the music itself that allows the listener to listen in a more engaged way. A bit like reading a book, every sound becomes important to the development of the track and the listener can’t wait to see where it will go next.
From the spacey feel of “Kosmos” with SRP to the ravey intro descending into halftime madness of “Hiding Place” so the nervous system experiment that is “Limbic,” Yunis has pulled no punches in Amygdala. This EP is just as complex and mysterious as the part of the brain that is its namesake. Here’s hoping Yunis delves even deeper into this kind of work with sound. Knowing his discography thus far, it’s more than likely he will do just that.