The album antiv is the third full-length release from experimental art-musician, umin.
Umin’s music is dominated by baritone ukulele explorations and digital sequencing of various sound forms. The compositions are non-linear, non-objective and are tied to little, if any, musical conventions. The tracks are at times hypnotic, meditative and frantically unsettling.
By digitally altering the ukulele’s sound, umin manages to bring to mind a sitar or even a Japanese koto. These sounds are then juxtaposed amid various elements that range from 8-bit digital bleeps to sounds of esoteric, non-traditional instruments. What I catch myself noticing most of all as I listen to antiv are the layers upon layers of sound that go into a single composition, some very present and up-front; and some so subtle as to barely be a whisper.
One thing I adore about this album is the collaboration umin makes with other local musicians, such as Elle Crash [JetLab, Lovely Crash, Fairmount Girls], Brian Kitzmiller [Black Owls] and Matt Mooney [Super77, Koala Fires]. Also, on one track, umin is joined by label-mate Set in Sand.
The track porus is the only piece on the album to feature lyrics in the traditional sense. They are sung by Nic Powers, a local singer-songwriter who usually performs in a duo with Scott Higgins. The phrase, “So listen, you cold and colorful Christ!” is repeated throughout the song and is so compelling that I want to know the rest of that conversation.
Everything about the album antiv is intriguing. The cover art, done by Elle Crash, is multi-layered yet monochromatic and combines free-form gesture drawing with images that could be super-enlarged photographic prints. It is the sublime visual compliment to the music it contains. Likewise, the song titles (concentr, chaoc, lenil, ephiyt) appear to be fragments of words that imply an idea but do not overtly state it.
I am showing my age, but, in listening to umin, I was brought back to my days of staying up WAY too late and listening to Dave Lewis’ noise-rock band 11,000 Switches and Art Damage on WAIF – a secret guilty pleasure of my youth.
I appreciate that this album took me way out of my musical comfort zone. The sound form explorations rally against any standard norms and defy all expectations. In doing so, it reminded me that other boundaries in life can be pushed, if not completely broken down and thrown away.