X-Ray Press – Uvb-76

X-Ray Press - Uvb-76

In our lives we rarely come across music that is so shamelessly unconcerned with conventions of genre, that when we do actually hear these types of sounds emanating from our musical devices it deserves at the very least to be heard. I looked in my inbox on Wednesday and I saw the title of an album that sounded more like a secret government project than a CD, Uvb-76 the latest release by X Ray Press.

In order to clarify things, this band crosses many genres including; Math Rock, Art Rock, Experimental and even some elements of Post – Rock and Post- Hardcore. Sounding like a mix of Mutemath, The Sound of Animals Fighting, and This Town Needs Guns; X Ray Press is sure to delight those looking for something weird. This album is structured around creating order out what some may describe as sonic chaos, and it would seem that X-ray Press is not only up to the challenge but they go beyond what is required. For example the first three songs are guitar and vocally driven then, the fourth song is a lonely instrumental piano tune. Basically, the album itself mirrors the unpredictability and volatility inherent in each and every song. This is an album revels in its own subversive nature a without coming off as haughty or pretentious. There is an eccentric energy to this record where the dynamic of hard and soft do not exist. No, the distinction is much deeper than that, the dichotomy of harmony and discord itself is challenged.

Where shall we start?  The guitars are played with excellent precision, switching between several different time signatures at one moment and playing at fairly straight forward 4/4 signature the next.  As far as atmosphere goes the guitars create a constantly shifting soundscape that displays their technical prowess, coupled with swirling distorted rhythms that would not be out of place on any modern Post Rock album.  The drumming is as capricious as the guitar playing, stopping and starting at odd times within the overall structure the songs. There are a few acoustic piano tunes that act as breaks in between songs and surprisingly these brief asides help add to the overall offbeat nature. The vocals are great, as the lead singer sounds like a combination of Brandon Flowers and the lead singer of Drive like Jehu. The lyrics leave a little to be desired and at times the lyrics aren’t really discernible, but this seems like an intentional characteristic. The focus is on the chaotic and busy nature of the music so the lyrics can seem cryptic and nonsensical in order to keep the focus on the whole rather than a singular element. Plus when you figure nine of the eighteen songs include singing, you figure lyrics and vocals as a whole take a back seat.

This is an album for those with a short attention span, as there is something always shifting and swirling about within the broad corridors of sound. As paradoxical as it may sound the album is focused, they always manage to work within the confines of their genre. Overall, everyone should hear this excellent work just for the simple fact it will take listeners out of their comfort zone and in many ways change what their definitions of what music should sound like. There is only one point of contention I have but given the holistic approach these guys take with music, the way the lyrics are written makes sense. This is definitely going on my best of 2010 lists . If I actually believed in giving letter grades this would positively get an A , but since I don’t I will strongly recommend it to everyone.