ALBUM REVIEW: Jason Urick – I Love You

Written for the 405

“I love you,” says Jason Urick, shifting closer to you, his bushy beard tickling your chin. You don’t know what to say. You’ve only known him for forty minutes.

In that time you listened to an album made up of only five tracks. It was an album of electronica. Ambient, actually. You’re having a tough time deciding whether you liked it. As with most music of the genre, if it succeeds at creating a certain “ambiance”, the listener should presumably be too enraptured by it, and the ensuing feeling of relaxation, to provide any real critique of what they’ve just heard. And if it fails, well, there’s even less to say.

You’d read about Jason. His first solo album, Husbands, got good reviews. And he’s well known in the Baltimore music scene for his work with acts like WZT Hearts and Themoonstealingproject. He’s fairly prolific. This worried you a little. If someone is prolific; on the one hand, you’d hope that “practice meant perfect” and he’d refined his sound to a high quality. On the other, if someone comes out with so much product, some of it’s bound to be better than others.

Each of the five songs you heard employed similar tricks: reversed, pitched-up vocal samples emerging, semi-threateningly, from the mists of slow-burn electronic soundscapes. The heavy sampling, including of some traditional Eastern instrumentation, made you think of David Byrne and Brian Eno’s seminal My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. Only, longer. Layers and layers of samples slowly built. Emphasis on slowly.

Each track far outstayed its welcome. Any sense of dread or transcendence or relaxation Urick’s long-form compositions may have initially conjured up in you were eventually replaced with boredom. Your mind was allowed to unwind and float downstream to the point that it soon washed ashore and began thinking about what to make for dinner tonight or whether you remembered to get your copy of Music for Airports back off your Dad. Jason kept his eyes shut throughout the length of the album. Perhaps for others, the heavily-processed, repetitive sounds were relaxing, maybe even mantra-like.

You realise now though that Jason has been staring at you. “Listen,” you say, “You’re a nice guy, and I did…sort of enjoy tonight. But maybe we should just be friends.”

4/10

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