Jason Urick - "The Crying Song (Album Mix)" (I Love You)
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.