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Jason Urick

I Love You

[Thrill Jockey; 2012]

By ; June 13, 2012 

Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOG

There appear to be two covers to Jason Urick’s album I Love You. One is a spectacular shot of Earth from space, capturing the lower half of Africa with a swirl of clouds covering the Antarctica region. The other is just as lovely, displaying an equally exquisite spherical shot of the moon. Both are perfectly apt covers for the record, as Urick tries to capture his sense of “going from feeling very in tune in body and mind to completely adrift in a large universe.” The pictures on the covers are detailed when you study them, full of majestic intricacies that you might not often take time to look at, but yet they are huge, grand moments that are completely beyond us as humans. Urick really hasn’t set himself an easy task.

But it’s easy to overlook the pictures and focus on the album title, a phrase that is spoken so commonly in everyday life that it can sometimes seem meaningless. I often find myself taking it too literally when listening to the album, imagining Urick was trying to capture a sort of overwhelming sense of love. The music is often strange and unspecific, like it’s always trying to find the words, but never can do so. Funnily enough, the closest you get to actual words is the warped child-like voice on “Don’t Digital” that repeats an indecipherable phrase over and over. As I said, it’s no easy task.

It would seem best to listen to the album when taking in the origin of its title’s meaning. The album shares it name with a Marco Ferreri film about a character who falls in love with a keychain that utters the words “I love you” when whistled at. As Urick goes on to explain:

“I began to use the phrase “I Love You” as a mantra of sorts while working on this material. Running the phrase over and over in my head until the words started to break down and render the phrase foreign again. In these meditations I became more at peace with the music making process and more unsure/unfamiliar with it at the same time.”

He seems intent on finding the little atoms and molecules that make up the significance of not just the phrase, but also the idea and its power. Often his music sounds like some primordial soup, bubbling away, waiting for a reaction. On “Ageless Isms,” what sounds like a dub cut is slowed down to a lazy shuffle, as distorted screams come and go. Elsewhere, on “Syndromes,” a settling, light burbling is washed over with streaks of what, again, sound like slowed-down effects, while the album’s opening title track is the warm water for the listener to dip their feet into before diving into the pool. “I Love You” reels you in unexpectedly, with ambiguous noise and few more processed, wordless vocal sounds wavering about in the air. When played at both a low and a high volume it manages to find a way of becoming a sound that exists; it’s not wholly absorbing, but it’s not a pointless eight minutes. As said, it acts as an almost subtle introduction to Urick’s sound world.

What follows, though, is “Don’t Digital,” which is the longest and probably the most singular cut here. Full of clunky and stuttering melodica melodies fading into one another, it’s an individual track in that it keeps itself moving forward, as mentioned earlier, always trying to get somewhere particular, but never quite reaching its destination comfortably. By the time the final melody is playing itself out, slowing down gradually with each loop, it sounds like it was there all along, just waiting in the background. I suppose much like the first utterance of that fateful phrase “I love you,” it waits for the right moment to present itself.

Urick has to be credited (here, at least), for making something of a personal and singular sound world; there’s little I can think to refer to, or compare I Love You to, apart from the Enjoy Your Rabbit jittery vibe on “The Crying Song.” Yet, his world isn’t an easy one to inhabit, which is the desired result in the end, as Urick often pondered his existence while recording this album, and what it meant to inhabit the earth. That said, I still have trouble finding myself getting absorbed in any of the material here. “Don’t Digital” is strange and large, like a lumbering giant, but is still interesting to listen to; and “I Love You” and “Syndromes” are nice pieces to have playing, along with being good entry and exit points, respectively. But I often want Urick’s music here to do more, to have a greater effect on me, but “The Crying Song” and “Ageless Isms” struggle to give me a real reason to go back and listen to over and over. As said before, the album struggles to find a particular voice, and make any sort of statement, leaving me more than a couple of steps off using the album’s own title to describe my opinion of it.


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