If sound was space, you could fall through it and never hit the bottom with Koi No Yokan. It is no longer sounds on tape or variations of decibels of volume on a screen. It’s just not that simple.
There’s never been a record with quite the mix of heavy and airy at the same time. The single releases of “Leathers” and “Tempest” (the latter is the mark of the record) leave little guessing about the sounds of Koi No Yokan. The Deftones accurately portray the heavy ends (“Swerve City” and “Gauze”) along with the light atmospheric push (“Rosemary”) and that chilly remembrance (“Entombed”) for the whole duration of the album.
While their sound is clearly carved out via evidence of a cohesive record that just gets better with every spin, it connects with you on an emotional level. The only strange part is the slightly pointless keyboard intros to several songs, but that issue can easily be overlooked especially as it’s progressing from where Diamond Eyes left off musically.
For comparison’s sake (hear me out before crucifying), compare the difference between White Pony and Diamond Eyes. It’s a similar progression change of Glassjaw’s Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Silence to the Coloring Book EP. People have sutured these two bands together with good reason beyond sound- their singers have a schizophrenic whisper-scream-reverse hiccup style of belting out. And if you don’t think Chino Moreno and Glassjaw’s Daryl Palumbo sound similar (besides one man’s Long Island accent), get your head examined.
Threats aside, this record does bear on that sense of uncertainty and struggle that Moreno fabulously tries to help us and himself understand. While Koi No Yokan lacks a few screams (perhaps “Tempest” is the only song with) that older seasoned fans enjoy, Moreno still sounds like peaceful sounds in the night that haunt you. And if bands dare to use lyrics to invoke emotion, few address “uncertainty” as a topic as many prefer to deal with angst or consequences. After all, how do you deal with something you can’t explain well?
But Koi No Yokan does find that uncertainty in you.
How could it not? Confusion of former bassist Chi Cheng’s shape (a car accident with his sister in 2008 left him in a coma; he is currently in a semiconscious state but still incapacitated) has put a story on the timeline of the Deftones. You can’t easily move on from that. Stuck in a difficult situation, the band used this sense of uncertainty about themselves and Cheng to their advantage.
The only explanation that can be provided to the unanswered questions of what this record is unearthing within us may lie in the meaning of “koi no yokan” itself. Its Japanese words mean something similar to the “premonition of love.” Not only will you feel that way about this record, but there’s a lot of inability to understand why there are premonitions of love in the first place. Some things don’t make sense- they’re uncertain. And maybe in a way, that makes the most sense of all.