RECAP: Yeethoven II At The Belasco Theatre

By | January 2, 2018 at 5:32 pm | No comments | Featured Post, MUSIC, Recaps | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,


Kanye West + Beethoven = Yeethoven

After earning rave reviews with 2016’s Yeethoven, Composer/Arranger Johan & Conductor Yuga Cohler decided to come back for a highly anticipated sequel. The music event that no one saw coming proved once again that unlikely pairings fuel the greatest audience reactions. Bolstered by the 70-piece Debut Chamber Orchestra, two of the greatest musicians of all time were compared, contrasted, and mashed up to the delight of a sold out crowd at The Belasco Theatre. Kanye West’s Yeezus and The Life of Pablo were used to diagram how music has evolved over decades, and how the best artists of today are able to harness the strategies of previous generations.


West fans know that Yeezy’s no stranger to orchestral elements in his music – American film score composer Jon Brion co-executive produced 11 tracks on West’s 2005 classic Late Registration, and much of West’s early work is punched up with soul samples and string interludes. However, Yeethoven presented Johan and Cohler with a different challenge: translate some of West’s most minimalistic and angry production into full orchestral arrangements. Gone from West’s latest works are the soulful touches and chipmunk samples that lend themselves to the type of sound you would expect from an orchestra. Instead, we hear brash and scatter-brained production, layered with sinister synths and digital sounds. The fact that Johan and Cohler were able to turn these works into something that the Debut Chamber Orchestra could successfully perform is impressive.


Pausing briefly between songs to explain how the ideas were hatched, Johan and Cohler referenced why each arrangement was noteworthy. How are two artists, separated by centuries, able to use music in similar ways to get visceral reactions out of their listeners? Highlights included the contrasting sounds present in West’s ‘Blood on the Leaves’ and Beethoven’s ‘Symphony No. 5,’ as well as the harmonies composed within ‘Hold My Liquor’ and ‘Symphony No. 7.’ Listening to a 70-piece orchestra play ‘Father Stretch My Hands’ is something that every West fan should witness.

After successful runs in 2016 and 2017, we hope there’s a Yeethoven III coming to Los Angeles sometime within the next year.

Words by Paul Castillo. Photos by Ty Levey.











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