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CD Feature/ Ubyk: "Matryoshka"

img  Tobias
If you still think Pop is superficial, you must have been listening to something else for the last decade. And if you consider Radiohead the messias of a new creed in the genre, you will probably have overslept the last 40 years completely. While Ubyk will be extremely pleased with the reception of “Matryoshka”, which has been showered with virtual and printed praise on its clever arrangements and refined details, band members Roman Bleum and Samantha Tobey are well aware that their Proto-Pop approach harks back into the past instead of reaching out into the future.

In fact, Bleum and Tobey have openly admitted that their mutual obsession for the work of Pink Floyd founder Syd Barret was the most important match that brought them together as a duo. You can hear the love for Barret’s romantic poetry in the subtle layers of whisper running alongside and underneath the surface of the songs as well as in the myriad of sounds onomatopoetically supporting or associatively accompanying the framework of Acoustic Guitar, brushed Drums and tightly synced polyphonic chant.

Then again, “Matryoshka” never allows itself to be a retro-happy homage, an uncritical tribute or a mere pastiche. In fact, had Barret’s name not been mentioned in an early interview, the music might have been appreciated for what it truly is: Autumnally coloured threedimensional Folk. Regardless of whether they’re swooning in bittersweet harmonies (“Matryoshka”), staging their personal dissatisfaction as a miniature audio theatre replete with ringing alarm bells and ticking clocks (“Work”) or engaging in lyrical schizophrenia to put the finger on emotional blockades (“Just Fine”), songs are always composed of straight-forward verses and highly melodic chorusses.

It is only in a second stage that these structures are filled up with hibernating sidethemes waiting to be woken from their slumber by attentive listeners and headphoned ears. While tracks work perfectly without them, the promise of a hidden meaning lures one in even deeper. They also serve to increase one’s overall awareness and sensitivity: When last track “Delicate Swarm” kicks in with its fairy-tale-like plucked string loops, the tune seems to float in a sea of glistening elecronic texture, even though its pure acoustic arrangement belies this impression on closer inspection.

Things are not always what they seem, therefore, but with Ubyk this need not be a bad thing: As long as you keep your eyes and ears wide open, the world is full of little miracles. Catching these miracles in to-the-point pieces and making them sound as intense as life itself is what keeps “Matryoshka” firmly tied to the ground, even though the dreaminess of some of the material occasionally makes the music want to lift off like a hot air balloon. This is what renders any questions about Bleum and Tobey being retro seem absurd: Pop is always about big topics, eternal truths, final decisions and famous last words - these things will always matter

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Ubyk

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