29 August 2021

YONA-KIT Yona-Kit 1995



Artist Biography by Stephen Howell

New Kind of Water In the mid-'90s, guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Jim O'Rourke, bassist Darin Gray, and drummer Thymme Jones were performing and recording in the ambient/experimental rock outfit Brise-Glace. By 1994, a slight augmentation in this lineup took place, which led Brise-Glace to start the side project Yona-Kit. Japanese guitarist/vocalist Kazuyuki K. Null (aka K.K. Null), known for his noise rock trio Zeni Geva, joined the threesome. The new quartet was a cross-cultural supergroup of sorts, considering Gray was a member of Chicago's post-hardcore group Dazzling Killmen, Jones was the founder of experimental prog rock outfit CHEER-ACCIDENT and O'Rourke was gaining notoriety as a famed producer in the underground music community. Yona-Kit wasn't the first time that O'Rourke and Null had collaborated. The two had recorded an album together, titled New Kind of Water, that showcased incredible improvisations and various guitar duets. Yona-Kit was a different monster altogether though. The band wasn't as heavy as Zeni Geva's output, yet it wasn't as light as Brise-Glace. Yona-Kit even had puppet mascots that were associated with their debut album. This wasn't that unbelievable though, considering that the group was on Skin Graft Records, the home of Yona-Kit's members many other bands. Skin Graft was notorious for having puppet characters representing the label, such as Hot Satan. It was June of 1994 when Yona-Kit stepped into a Chicago studio with recording engineer Steve Albini, who had twiddled the knobs for similar groups like the Japanese-Chicago noise blend of Shakuhachi Surprise. The Yona-Kit sessions yielded a more subdued Null scraping out more trebly Shellac-type tones from his guitar rather than his typical blitzkrieg attack. Melt Banana's YaSuko Onuki even stopped by the proceedings to lend vocals to the record. Yona-Kit's self-titled album appeared a year later on July 25, 1995. The record's cover featured an array of puppets, including Chiller Whale and Serious Brown, and not excluding Hot Satan. The cover was designed by Skin Graft founder Mark Fischer, and it became the source of a ludicrous story as to how the band formed. The story was that Yona-Kit's members were on a Skin Graft cruise near the North Pole when their vessel capsized leading to Chiller Whale's consumption of the band. As the members were later regurgitated by the whale, they emerged with a handful of songs which became the album's tracks. Following the release, one of the record's cuts ("Skeleton King") appeared on the September 1997/50th release by Skin Graft, titled Camp Skin Graft: Now Wave. The compilation contained Yona-Kit alongside 32 other Skin Graft artists, who included the Flying Luttenbachers and Lake of Dracula, among others. This was the last time that Yona-Kit was heard from, however, as Gray and Jones began focusing their attention to a new side project called You Fantastic! Apart from the different band moniker, You Fantastic!'s music remained in the same vein as Yona-Kit. Jones also kept busy with his full-time band CHEER-ACCIDENT, while Null returned to Zeni Geva. O'Rourke went on to produce and collaborate with such artists as U.S. Maple, Sonic Youth, and Loren Mazzacane Connors


Franken-Bitch            2:44
Dancing Sumo Wrestlers3:35
Desert Rose1:14
Hi Ka Ri4:45
Twa Corbies4:26
Skeleton King2:50
Get Out Of Here2:34
Slice Of Life23:36


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