X-Ray Press – UVB-76

X-Ray Press – UVB-76

Forging through after a successful debut, X-Ray Press continues chasing the field of progressive/math rock with their latest album, UVB-76. Named after the mysterious Russian radio that transmits nothing more than a repetitive, numb buzz, the intuitive rock band has created a daunting new album that cycles around eighteen different tracks of music. Intricate and meticulously constructed, the music is exactly as it appears to be: a various assortment of clashing sounds and discord that is easily characterized as ‘math rock.’ Influenced by their roots as classical music students and musicians, X-Ray Press use that momentum as a catapult to their music’s overlaying of sounds. And split into two separate parts – with five suites in all – UVB-76 is an entirely all-encompassing listen.

Between all of the interesting workings of diverse instruments is the very core of what X-Ray Press is about. The music’s sounds are gripped together by a range of genres that rotate around progressive rock, post-hardcore, jazz and hard rock that they may seem like a lot to handle at first. “I. A. iii. On Breathing Water” showcases a winding story with tenacious drumming and snarling guitars. The tempo is laid-back with an almost Pavement-kind of trance but in between the calmness are rushes of pouring vitality that temper with head-turning shifts. There’s no denying it either, the strength lies in main members, Paurl Walsh and Michael Pasuit, and their ability at combining arduous rhythms with distinctively difficult harmonies and melodies is where the music comes to life.

These melodies mostly dissipate in between the album’s larger scales of music but they are sharp contrasts that are desperately needed and provided throughout instrumental interludes on UVB-76. Before the snarling guitar of “II. D. xiv. On Perfecting Forgetting” is the waterfall melody of “xiii. Holy Ghost, USA” and its stabbing piano pedal tones. It’s a lot like the melody heard on “iv.” and again felt on “xvi.” But all of these aforementioned session pieces last nearly a minute each and they sound so clear and pristine that you miss them, more than actually appreciate them, when they appear. Maybe they wanted to ensure redundancy wouldn’t be an issue but with so many of the patterns interloping and enveloping over each other, something like “II. E. xvii. The Terms (In the Colors of Our DNA)” and its circular build-up lacks a certain bite.

Still, the colors that fill X-Ray Press’ music is best depicted on “I. B. viii. Thin Mints, FSA” where the drums and guitar meet for a vicious meeting on duality. Sounds collide against each other as they maintain some kind of balance but in the end, the music is left feeling unaccomplished and somewhat hindered by the attack of noise and clutter. The best things in life remain those that are most easily attainable and reachable; X-Ray Press opt for a difficult road to such fruition and their music sounds almost just as difficult because of it. UVB-76 ends up proving that while X-Ray Press have found a great knack they can rely on, the winning formula is still to be found.