Review Summary: Rhythmic analog abstractions.
Mexican experimental record label Umor Rex has been responsible for a good chunk of the best abstract synthesizer music to surface in the first few years of this decade. Starting out as a relatively small netlabel focusing on niche music of no particular style, they relaunched in 2010 and began to fill their catalogue with artists intent on pushing the boundaries of where abstract, analog electronic music could go. Incorporating a range of influences from musique concrete to psychedelic drone, Umor Rex have managed to carve out a relatively successful niche for their unique brand of analog electronic meditations since their repurposing in the early 2010’s. The newest addition to their catalogue comes courtesy of Oklahoma based electronic musician and Digitalis label headman Brad Rose working under his Charlatan moniker. While Rose has been releasing music as Charlatan for the better part of five years under the umbrella of his own record label, his newest concoction of synthetic sound design, entitled Local Agent
, marks the first of Rose’s music to appear in Umor Rex’s ever growing catalogue of abstract electronic sketches and modular contortions.
For those unfamiliar with Umor Rex’s catalogue, the music they release tends to explore relatively similar areas of sound design and noise manipulation. In practice, what this really means is that Umor Rex is a label that has an established sound in which they seem intent on preserving as a part of their aesthetic. While Charlatan’s previous output certainly falls within the boundaries of the type of music the label would be interested in releasing, Local Agent
sees Rose tweaking his liquid, droning synth textures to conform more to the kind of metallic, punctuated style that most of the Umor Rex catalogue is known for. Fortunately, this aural modification could be seen as more of a fusion of styles rather than a simple tone shift (the kind of phenomenon that generally makes all of the Umor Rex releases intriguing). Rose has managed to inject his penchant for harnessing and exploiting the rhythmic and percussive qualities of sound into the kind of noise palette you would expect from Umor Rex and produce his own brand of coppery, subterranean ambient dub that effectively blends the two entities with rather successful results.
opens up with a pulsing wash of bassy static and distant bleeps that sounds like something you would hear in the bottom of some secret military naval installation hidden away in the furthest unexplored reaches of the globe. Rose continues to develop this pulsating aural aesthetic throughout the entirety of the record, intent on fusing the generally exclusive elements of rhythm and melody into one formless, undulating amalgamation of sound. While many of the tracks included on Local Agent
tend to focus on more abstract composition, Rose has chosen to pepper his latest creation with sections of lush, melodic pads and dub-influenced bass sections that give the record a relatively unique sound amid the pantheon of similar releases in the Umor Rex catalogue. “Lonely City”, the third track and highlight of the album, sounds like some sort of esoteric soundtrack to a lost, moody 80’s experimental sci-fi film filtered through a hazy, cold-war era antennae connection, evoking an atmosphere not dissimilar to the kind of image used on the record sleeve.
ends up being a welcome addition to the ever-growing catalogue of the Umor Rex consortium. While it does drag at times towards the center of the album, Rose manages to reinterpret the already established Umor Rex sound with enough unique perspective to produce a record that will certainly further annotate and inform the label as it continues to develop it’s aesthetic. The digital version of the record comes with a bonus remix of the album opener which would have been a perfect closer to the official set of tracks (it’s always disappointing when artists end up making this kind of decision) but, as it stands, Local Agent
is another wholly successful record courtesy of Umor Rex and should please any fan of experimental synthesizer music and analog modular sound manipulation.