The Iron Apple
By: Eric G.
Since Tortoise’s debut album in 1994, instrumental prog rock has been given an awful lot of clout- some of it deserved but much of it not. Ui represents the experimental side of the post-Slint onslaught of organic noisemakers that deserves accolades. Ui’s been around since the early 90’s but has only released two full lengths. The rest of the band’s output has been in the EP format, including its newest release, The Iron Apple. Ui is known for its sparse dual bass attack, but on this record the textures are more spread out, incorporating banjos as well as the usual arsenal of bass and rhythm.
“Mrs. Lady Lady” trades scaling bass riffs with a saturated keyboard. Deliberate scratches and noises filter high in the mix to balance the cleanliness of the warm tones of the music. The song climbs at a jagged angle and the riffs increase in frequency and intensity until it just stops suddenly. “Blue Pietro” is even more ornate with distortion adding to the thickening textures along with tight yet erratic drumming- a staple in “experimental” music. Ui steers clear of overt self-indulgence by maintaining a definitive direction for the music. You don’t feel like you’re being led down a dead end road. It all makes strange sense.
The electronic side of Ui has been relatively dormant over the years while the band has emphasized its organic tones through its solid rhythm section. “Golden Pietro”, though, dabbles in the realm of electronic syncopation with triggered effects and prominent keyboards. “Run Pietro” closes this brief and musically thematic EP with a multi-layered sound. Banjo, bass, and samples are all seemingly oblivious to one another but sound cohesive all the same. The Iron Apple definitively proves that there is someone with a map behind the driver’s seat of Ui.