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Jason Urick - I Love You

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Artist: Jason Urick

Album: I Love You

Label: Thrill Jockey

Review date: Jan. 25, 2012

Jason Urick’s solo work kicks against easy categorizations: too rhythmic to file conveniently under drone; too abrasive to be considered properly ambient. The five pieces heard on I Love You, his second solo LP, bristle as you listen to them. Like some uncanny deep-sea creature, they toss through speakers, shifting as they’re observed. And though I Love You can at times appeal on an intellectual level more than an aesthetic one, it still has a host of admirable (and listenable) qualities.

Urick’s 2010 12” This Fussing & Fighting featured a dense, looming bass sound. On I Love You, that sound has become more of a gateway to relaxation: the album’s initial mood is one of a hazy, deep-focus landscape, and the feeling of renewed expansiveness that comes from it. Urick isn’t necessarily aiming to lull the album’s listeners into a blissed-out place throughout, however. Partway through “Don’t Digital,” the hazy melodies fall just slightly out of sync, creating a low-key sense of dissonance, a subtle disorientation.

An underlying rhythm eventually takes shape; despite the sense of drift throughout I Love You, this is a work that’s constructed on the level of the album. “Ageless Isms” features a steady, dub-influenced beat throughout; at times, I’m wondering if Urick’s haziness is a Baltimore art-rock response to the aesthetic of the German label Jahtari — a Baltimore art-punk take on a similarly-minded reggae/dub mutation. Though ultimately, I Love You feels more transitional than anything: it’s too prickly, too esoteric, to function as a purely ambient work. Those blissful components remain present throughout, however, along with the rhythmic undercurrents. There’s a restlessness to this work, a sense of experimentation and a search for some new sound, some undiscovered moment of sonic epiphany. It doesn’t always succeed, but hearing the evolution progress over time is fascinating in its own right.

By Tobias Carroll

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