The Umbrella Sequence – The Disappearing Line / Athena EP

The Umbrella Sequence
The Disappearing Line / Athena EP

When a band is successful with a self-released demo and gets picked up by a reputable label, the new label often likes to release a prelude to the first “official” full-length, a kind of introduction or tease. For those who caught on earlier, however, the EP feels like vindication, and often it offers goodies to hoard of those johnny-come-lately’s who are just catching on. So kudos to The Umbrella Sequence for finding a great fit on Ohev!
This teaser EP features two tracks from the upcoming Ohev re-release of the band’s self-released full-length Sparkler Cliche, two new songs, and a remix, and it makes a nice introduction to this startlingly talented Minneapolis band. With a sound that draws from such grandiose luminaries as Radiohead, Mogwai, and Boards of Canada and hints as swirling, textured sounds as diverse as Grandaddy and Sigur Ros. Singer Ryan Rupprecht’s vocals have the kind of nasally pitch that makes me think of Placebo’s Brian Molko, and the thick, textured sound of the music is more strongly fitting with the rock-oriented Radiohead material. In short, how can these guys be from Minneapolis?
The first new track, “And Now We’re Famous Writers,” is an inspired track. Plenty of unique synth sounds drift over powerful percussion, sometimes melodic and sometimes textured guitars, and Rupprecht’s layered vocals. It has an ominous nature that’s straight out of Pink Floyd’s more experimental work. “Pushing Nevada” is extremely pretty, with sweet backing vocals and Sigur Ros-like swirls of guitars and synths and crescendos every bit as good as Mogwai’s best work.
“The Disappearing Line” and “Athena” appear on the full-length, which DOA previously reviewed. The former sits under a soft wash of distortion and synthetic-feeling percussion, and its slower and moodier tone is extremely powerful. “Athena” has a more electronic feel, with a tremendous mixture of sounds and beats, yet underneath it all is the organic instrumentation that makes the song really shine, including some lovely piano work. The way the song builds and the vocals layer is incredible. Although I’m not a big fan of remixes, especially when the original band is already electronic-focused, the remix of “The Disappearing Line” maintains all its moodiness and even ups the quotient some while adding the expected electronic beats and noises.
While it’s disappointing that the band’s upcoming full-length won’t be new material, it’s exciting to see that Sparkler Cliche will be available to a wider audience, which will surely embrace this band. Every instrument here is strong, but it’s the combination, the layering, the unique electronic feel, and Rupprecht’s unique vocals that make this band truly unique. Great stuff. Pick up on The Umbrella Sequence now.