Fresh off of their 2020 offering Adult Themes, El Michels Affair is back with a new full-length release. Titled Yeti Season, this newest album has everything we've come to expect from EMA’s patented cinematic style of instrumental soul music.
Where Adult Themes inspired a soundtrack to an imaginary film, Yeti Season brings us to a different place in time with new inspirations. Taken with Turkish-styled funk and an almost Mumbai-esque take on soul, El Michels Affair offers us a different kind of drama and imagination with Yeti Season.
If you've been following along, this shouldn't be viewed as too far a departure for El Michels Affair. The first single off of Yeti Season showed their hand back in 2018. A double-sided banger, that release brought the musical textures to the fore that dominate this record. The first song, titled "Unathi," is fully realized with the beautifully haunting-yet-hopeful vocals of Piya Malik, formally of 79.5 another Big Crown artist.
So what is Yeti Season? It could be more of a feeling than an actual place or time of year. It's a heavy album as evidenced by the signature musicianship and dramatic vocal expressions. But it's also a hopeful record, with phrasings, textures, and chord changes that hint at something better or fuller coming our way. You hear it in songs like "Ala Vida," with its stabby, pulsing chords laying a bedrock for EMA's bright, atmospheric horn lines. Or even in "Fazed Out," which leaves you with a feeling of determination, a striving for resolution even though the driving, march-like song structure should accompany some conquering army.
This persistence has to come from the fact that Leon Michels and company finished this record during the lockdown. It was a tough and troublesome time. But look at what has come of it: Yeti Season a record of high and heavy drama, but also one of hope and promise. It may take a year like 2020 behind us to find hope in a winter big footed creature like a Yeti, but that's where we are.