Review Summary: Steven R. Smith has done it again under another moniker.
Although Steven R. Smith has been releasing solo albums since 1995 it wasn’t until 2008 when he decided to release his first album under the pseudonym “Ulaan Khol.” You may be more familiar with Mr. Smith since he has released music under other monikers such as Hala Strana, Mirza, and Thuja. Being a fan of Smiths other projects “I” is yet another notable album that showcases Smiths talent of throwing multiples genre into a blender and coming out with an eclectic, hypnotic sound.
“I” consists of nine untitled instrumental pieces ranging from about three to seven minutes in length. One unique aspect of this album is the hazy, slightly distorted production. Nearly every song on the record is comprised of gloomy guitar reverb over glistening keyboard soundscapes creating a hopeful yet sinister sound. Although every track follows the same formula Smith adds something unique to each composition whether it be the funk drenched guitar swirls of “Untitled 3" or the intense drum samples in “Untitled 2.” “Untitled 4" dwells purely on echoing guitar reverb yet Smith throws in a slightly faded twangy acoustic creating an even more layered sound. Smith is able to succeed with this simple, slightly repetitive formula because every song contains subtle feature while retaining the barren, cold atmosphere of the album.
There really isn’t much more to say about Ulan Khol’s “I.” While “I” certainly isn’t as varied or melodic as some of Smiths other releases it is indeed an album worth listening too. At first one may be hesitant to give this album acclaim due to its simplicity yet after multiple listens the organic blend of guitars and keyboards combine to create something truly lush and trance-inducing.