New Batch – Umor Rex
3.1.18 by Mike Haley
My grandpa loves to corner me while I’m playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater on my Zune and grumble about how difficult shit used to be when he was my age (ie: a teen #youth). One time he said that television used to be black & white, and that there were seriously only four channels! I gotta admit, I was kind of shook. Then Umor Rex released this latest batch, and #Whad’yaKnow: Four tapes, all black and white, with sprawling energy that could go on for months. Years! Hell, I may NEVER grow weary! SO maybe this “Greatest Generation” or whatever they call themselves just didn’t have the fucking gumption that Umor Rex is sporting. So sorry all you could come up with was Howdy Bootie puppets and racist portrayals of native people to entertain yourselves. Cause we (ie: the teen #youths) have Byron Westbrook, LogarDecay, Kohl, and Rafael Anton Irisarri at our disposal.
In total seriousness, this latest batch from Umor Rex is weighty as hell, with artists never leaving the clouds of smoke they create. Also I’m nearly 40 and only found out about these tapes by searching “Kohls.” I got some Kohls Cash expiring soon and need a nice pant. Enough about me, let’s dive into this batch…
BYRON WESTBROOK – CONFLUENCE PATTERNS
Byron Westbrook is an artist and musician based in Brooklyn, NY. His work focuses on dynamics of perception using sound, lighting and video to interact with architecture and landscape, often pursuing routes that involve social engagement. Confluence Patterns is an eclectic collection of recordings, containing both the sharpest and most pastoral material Westbrook has released. The pieces range from the textured drones of “Vanishing Action” to the Tony-Conrad-plays-Black-Sabbath riffing of “Perception Depth” to the Maggie Payne-influenced “Fractal Shift II”. Westbrook is interested in how sharp contrast can shape the perception of a sound. Working with texture and frequency in relation to listening duration, he considers sonic analogies as to how an afterimage affects the experience of sight. For example, the pillowy “Drifting Well” has a particular softness after experiencing the fatiguing frequencies and activity of “A Continuous Slip”; and the density and detail of “Glorious Mess” plays in a particular way after the static textures of “Vanishing Action”. Westbrook considers these sequential contrasts as integral elements of the work and has performed this sequence as a live set numerous times in recent years. Confluence Patterns is his third music release –after previous works in Root Strata and Hands In The Dark– and his first one in Umor Rex.
LOGARDECAY – FRGL
Leslie García and Paloma López (Mexico City) have been working for several years around the intersection of music, art-installation and science, with sound being the primary objective of their analysis, acting their roles as composers/creators and observers of the physical phenomenon. Their work ranges from experiments with bioelectrical sounds created by living organisms like bacteria and plants, to the use of custom-made sets of hardware they call ontological machines. They usually operate within their own platform Interspecifics, and FRGL is their second release under the moniker: LogarDecay. The sounds contained in FRGL might be their more musical work to date. It is not far from sound art, yet the bright accidents coming out of their improvisations seem to exist in the limits between harmony, rhythm and pure noise as a construction. Its tension sometimes soothes, sometimes mutates into a state between drone, ambient and abstract techno. FRGL is an exercise in transparency that does not seek to hide their errors but to maximize them and turn them into an aesthetic statement.
KOHL – LEANED ETHICS / IMPOSED ETHICS
Kohl is the dub-based project of New York City artist and musician Nathaniel Young. With Kohl, Nathaniel focuses on enveloping melodies and sounds that are often contrasted with subtle and evolving minimal textures and the rhythmic patterns generated from them. The resulting music is contemplative and warm, invoking reflection while maintaining a sense of motion/evolution. The Kohl project is an outlet for personal transformation; it is Young rewiring his understanding of morality and ethics. Interpretations of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, ‘good’ and ‘evil’. Musically, Learned Ethics / Imposed Ethics is a fine collection of ultra-textural ambient pieces with minimal changes like “The Possibility Of The Infinite”, slow tempo tracks like “Moral Supposition”, the dance-floor focused “Resolution (Empathy)”, and “The Inquisition”, which displays Kohl’s signature dub-techno style.
RAFAEL ANTON IRISARRI – SIRIMIRI
The NY-based producer returns to Umor Rex with a new album, in which the musical discourse and the physical form of the release have an equal, crucial importance. Sirimiri is made of four long and mid-length pieces, each composed of different perspectives, processes and identities. However, Rafael seeks to blend subjective time with the listening experience. A sort of loop and repetition, sub-sequence-based sound. Following Eno, nothing happens in the same way twice, perception is constantly shifting, nothing stays in one place for long. The sum of the four pieces is 36 minutes; the cassette edition lasts 72 minutes in total, since both sides have the same four songs joined together. Physically, the format allows us at least two automatic repetitions. In the digital version the songs are independent, but we also include a bonus track made of the 36-minute loop. The desolation and despair (in a sort of positive way) that we got to hear in The Shameless Years (Umor Rex 2017) is present in Sirimiri, but the impression is concrete, with cruder, less rhetorical landscapes. If The Shameless Years was located between beauty and active tragedy, Sirimiri travels inside the beauty and melancholy of an observing eye, a quiet rebel insurrection. Another substantial difference is the distance from general and globalized concepts; in these unfortunate times, Sirimiri looks for personal sorrows, and places its focus on the particular. Even the names of the songs evoke this in small ways, like in “Sonder”, the feeling of realizing that everyone, even a complete stranger, has a life as complex as one’s own. Rafael has two guests in this album; Taylor Jordan in “Mountain Strem”, and Rafael’s hero Carl Hultgren (from Windy & Carl) in “Sonder”. Sirimiri means ‘drizzle’ in Basque, and we cannot find a better word to describe its content.
All tapes come packaged in hand numbered (out of 120) custom, fold-out cases made of 100% recycled paper. Grab them now.