Going with the theme of nearly instrumental albums, today we have onYou’s “Ultimum Photon A Sole,” full of slowly emerging, ever-growing structures full of hypnotic repetition. The first track, “A Grift,” definitely takes its time getting started, with the vocals not making their entrance until about 3 minutes in. After laying down a very clearly kraut-rock influenced foundation it comes as a pleasant surprise that some new wave tendencies are brought out with the vocals. About three-quarters of the way through things start to veer sharply off into the land of psychedelia. The pulsating rhythm is stripped away, the keyboards fade, and the guitar and cymbals work together in creating a wash of sound. All of a sudden there’s an ocean where just a moment ago there was a factory.
And there are so many moments like that throughout this album. onYou has an uncanny ability to maneuver some pretty drastic leaps of style, working from the almost overbearing tightness of their precise, lock-step rhythm section to an amorphous cloud of eerie sound effects. Essentially, the band is taking a one-part form with a simple and fairly static harmonic pulse, and creating sections within that.
“Finding the Wronskian” flowers out of the ending of the album opener. The guitar lays down a sparse harmonic idea, and before long the bass and drums are back in the game, gathering up all the loose ends and pulling the whole thing along again. An incredibly slow crescendo continually promises a huge eventually payoff. As the guitar builds itself up from the background, alternately fighting against the noise while helping to build it, we reach the moment we have been made to wait for. No sooner than the song reached its goal everything collapses again. The actual payoff comes about 4 minutes into the next track, “The Wronskian.”
The constant back and forth from these repetitive, motorik sections to those with a considerable amount of noise that are nearly arrhythmic, is what this album is all about. Of course, the extreme degree to which onYou is able to string us along as listeners, really growing that sense of anticipation to incredible levels, is also a factor. Throw into the mix some psychedelia and a tiny bit of that New Wave color and you’re pretty much there. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the intense Pink Floyd vibe that album closer “Adrift on the Wind” lays down. The album closes on a really strong note, with a catchy and fairly straight ahead psych-rock tune.