Jason Urick: Husbands

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Jason Urick 

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David Morris

13th November 2009
At 17:32 GMT

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While the third and longest of the four tracks on Jason Urick’s album begins with what I imagine I will soon be referring to as an “ascent/build/meander” I made the decision: I like this. I then thought about what number I might give it: A seven sounds good, with a hint or two that it was creeping towards the eight mark… Hey! Why don’t we try some kind of decimal system? That could be cool! We can’t let this electronica stuff gain too much of a foothold, it might start creeping into folk music…

For a moment I wondered what comprises the considerations that mean I would probably shy away from anything higher, what precisely is the premise of the radar under which many a guitar record slips beneath unnoticed? Then I remembered the Xerrox record that I got all shiny for earlier in the year, then I realised I hadn’t really listened to it since…

Husbands reminds me less of the also-Thrill Jockey signed Mountains and more of the Kranky spectrum; akin to Keith Fullerton Whitman’s music, but less invasive than the work of his I have encountered thus far. I could throw out a Tim Hecker reference as I know that shit to be very kosher, but I wouldn’t really know what I was saying. So I’ll try and stick to instinct.

That meander has now moved from side winding pitch-bends, truly invigorating shake-ups of the songs dimensional transience (!), into a submerged Blade Runner as manipulated by William Basinski type of thing. Synths flourish like dreamt fanfares over a swirl which harks to the seas of Solaris, one where bliss was the intention. It’s dense, but gives the impression that you could pass right through it, become it. The final minute is very well executed; the decomposition and gradual last breaths of the various oscillations give a few poignant reminders of the theme before leaving.

Opener, the nine minute long ‘Strides’, gives rise to another comparison, Stars of the Lid. There are particular shimmering inflections that truly sound just like them, but the use of contemporary reference points should generally hint at the success of this musics intangibility, the wordlessness of the experience; a listening that can only be conveyed by likeness. The song goes on to develop a sound which reminded me of strong light coming through thin bladed blinds; it’s closest cousin in the Real World of folk and rock might be the accordion, or the lower register of the bagpipes. We’ve been getting off on drones for a long time now, haven’t we boys and girls?

Again, the tension inherent in the stasis is that off a firm embrace (I originally wrote “hug”), inducing release instead of anxiety. Urick impresses once more with a fine finale, the texture condenses rapidly, into something sharp and incredibly precise. The other day I drunkenly posited that Broccoli always looks like Broccoli, however closely you look at it; Primary School Fractal Humour. I’d listen to this track again anytime; I’m just not sure when I’ll prompt myself to do so.

I truly wish my dreams were sounding a little more like ‘Let There Be Love’, this is the tipping point, the one that might draw me back in to this record at a time when I’m not attempting to pack and ship it to your imagination. Besides all the straightforward twinkle-fish glimmers (from what I’m led to believe is called an arpegiattor) and the resounding piano cosmolojoy (iffy: sorry) I hear what sounds like loping strums from a distant autoharp or guitar. On final piece, ‘The Eternal Return’, his use of distortion on the paralysing rhythms is acute but not aggressive or forceful. For some this might represent a missed opportunity, for me it is extremely praiseworthy. 

The fact that I haven’t had recourse to describe the process and recording technique in such clearly craft-dominated electronic music belies my enjoyment. I am happier with these textural genies when they keep the tricks and the concept behind the curtain, and it feels to me that Jason Urick intends to entertain, uplift, and astound.

Rating:  7 / 10

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