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CD Feature/ Ulna: "Frcture"

img  Tobias
You don’t need a degree in rocket science to determine the relative niche character of experimental electronica. Whether in a club or at home, most people want music to be about drama, dialogue and interaction – and most laptop artists simply aren’t offering any of it. In a highly competitive environment, Italian duo Ulna therefore certainly hold an important advantage over some of their colleagues: “frctre” is as eloquent as Drum n Bass, as cool as IDM, as insistent and emotional as Rock, as spacey as Ambient - and as vividly organic as all of them bunched together.

In a way, this convergence of styles into a single, sexy and subversive sound is a red thread in the catalogue of Karlrecords, whose previous release by Fanu and Bill Laswell already roamed the intersection between Breakbeat and Fusion Jazz. While there is a clear preference of rhythm and texture above melody and harmonic development on “frctrue” as well, the album’s stuttering forward propulsion and weightless airpads turn it into a both more uplifting and eccentric proposition. At times, the warm bass lines and dreamy chords seem to be buildups to electronic pop songs, but then their development becomes textural, the beats take over and pieces drift off into a hazy heaven.

This is not a political stance against repetition or routine, but a technique motivated by spontaneous decisions. The duo lovingly waters the fragile sonic plants, sizzling acoustic highwires and translucent atmospheres leading into “SMLL PRTS RECOLLECTED”, but gladly throws away the ewer barely seconds later, engaging in an irresistible groove gently penetrated by swelling layers of tonal clouds. “RECMPSNG THE FRCTRE” evokes nostalgic memories of Tangerine Dream’s more playful Sequencer runs, but breaks down half-way, recomposing the piece from a state of stasis. Grand finale “CLD SNDY EVENING” even moves from dense, crackling morse code-abstractions to the cluttering echoes of a Dubchamber and a yearning Ambient conclusion over the course of its eleven minute duration.

Seagues between these different passages are never completely seamless but always smooth, never disrupting a texture for the sake of a cheap shock effect. On other occasions, meanwhile, Ulna show themselves perfectly capable of holding a mood, discreetly attending to details. Determined and grim opener “BLCK CRSS SHDE”, for example, is nothing but an industrially distorted bass line growing in volume and depth, “FTERHR MLDY” a vibraphonic vision disturbed by nervous percussion spasms and “LNDN LVS N” an oriental bazarre featuring Andrea Serrapiglio’s cinematically transfigured Cello.

There are different ways to be “contemporary” or “up to date”, but Ulna have certainly chosen one of the most honest trajectories. Unperturbed by terms like “Crossover” or crude talk of progress, they have incorporated the eclecticism and multipolarity of the 21st century into their music simply because it mirrors their personalities and suits their flexible and funky arrangements. Their music moves swiftly and intuitively, avoiding the mechanical mantra of repetition and replacing it with a ceaseless energy flow: These are full-fledged jams by laptop artists, who have made their powerbooks their instruments.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Ulna
Homepage: Karlrecords

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