I am extremely excited to present you with our first piece from James MacMillan. Jimmy is a friend, musical mentor, and record junky that has inspired me aurally in many ways. If he's not working at Soundgarden gushing over a hundred different records you must buy, he's at home tending to his ridiculous collection of vinyl. His first review is about a local icon's recent solo affair, and is one that hit him very close to home. You can catch Jason Urick at the Hexagon tonight, with Zomes, Dustin Wong, and Vows. (photo by Josh Sisk)
Husbands, which hits us via Thrill Jockey, is the debut solo LP from former WZT Hearts wizard Jason Urick. Consisting of four tracks that break the 44 minute marker, one thing is very clear early on in this record: this is not a WZT Hearts record. Gone is the overwhelming confusion and disorienting chaos. What remains is a masterful piece that moves gracefully from beginning to end. Urick operates with such precision and grace you would think that the album was an effortless creation. You would be wrong. Intricate and highly detailed, the textures on this record shine with various elements that all culminate in what could be one of the best records of the year.
Album opener "Strides" is a slow builder that sets the tone for the whole record. Gently rolling back and forth while an ever present and foreboding tone builds from underneath until it is bubbling over the top by the end of the song. The song evokes intimate images and quickly transforms the listener to the dream like state that they will remain in until the end of the album.
"Let There Be Love" drifts along with the promise of something bigger for all of its 10 minutes. Being the only track to feature some sort of a vocal melody it feels like it is constantly building up to become a huge, bright and stunning anthem of a song. However the song ends as competently as it begins. Leaving "what could be" to the imagination of the listener may be where this album succeeds the most.
The epic "National Treasure" is the highlight of the record for me. For over 17 minutes this track hypnotically reveals itself, twisting along through multiple rhythms, it never really settles in one particular landscape. After many many listens, I still get something unique and fresh out of this song every time i hear it.
Closer "The Eternal Return" opens up the floodgates and Jason Urick finally seems to make good on the promises that the album seem to make with each of its previous songs. It opens with a collection of samples featuring children speaking. About a minute into this a fuzzed-out buzz saw of a tone seems to cut through the whole thing with deliberate attack and the song has begun. Just as delicately timed in the swaying tempo of the previous 3 tracks, this one veers off course and suddenly the safe dreamscape is gone. It is loud and obtrusive and it demands your attention.
Urick has made one of my favorite records of the year and it will find its way onto my turntable for a long time to come. He seems to have everything exactly where he wants it and it is dispatched exactly when he wants. However, "Husbands" is the kind of album that I would never trust a review of. The whole record is left up to the interpretation of the listener. This collection of songs inspires heavy doses of imagery, those mental pictures are often very personal and up to the individual listening to the record. If you are in a happy place this album will often sound shiny and promising with each new sound. If you are in the midst of a dark point, the album can seem very gloomy and apocalyptic.
This is the kind of album that should not be read about, it should just be listened to and experienced for what it is worth. Nobody should give you any expectations about what you should feel when you listen to this record, as it is a very personal and intimate experience for both you and Jason Urick. Be sure to pick up a copy of this vinyl only release as it is limited to just 800 copies.