ULAN BATOR EGO:ECHO (YOUNG GOD RECORDS) REVIEW
MEAN MAGAZINE | Dave Clifford
where pop music lilts, Ulan Bator soars; where it finds respite, Ulan Bator scratches, carves and gnaws.French culture has a way of imposing a certain sado-masochistic, reverent disdain for upon its art â€“ particularly music. For the French, itâ€™s not enough to love pop music: One must love it with a co-dependent disgust of a couple on the verge of murder-suicide. French avant-rock abusers, Ulan Bator, clearly love the pop-music tradition in the same way â€“ because its first release on an American label is like tracing the trioâ€™s finger-shaped bruises all over the throat of classic Brel, Bacharach, Morricone, Spector, Beatles, Krautrock and early Pink Floyd. However, where pop music lilts, Ulan Bator soars; where it finds respite, Ulan Bator scratches, carves and gnaws.
Produced by the master of musical attrition, Michael Gira (Angels of Light/Swans), Ego:Echo merges elements of psychedelia, chamber pop and droning folk. â€œSanta Luciaâ€ nabs Sonic Youthâ€™s bent-guitar approach to detuned pop, but further mangles it with jagged jabs of ringing bar-chords and sinister bass lines creeping beneath the dissonance. Elsewhere, a fuzzed-out, mechanistic bass line, fanged Wurlitzer organ chords and a barely audible chorus of menâ€™s voices announce the marching drone of â€œEtoile Astre.â€ The tune builds upon its repetitive groove, systematically adding then subtracting instrumental and vocal harmonies. The closing epic, â€œEcho,â€ pits a flowing haze of sounds against a laconic revision of Mitch Mitchelâ€™s slashing beat from â€œ I Donâ€™t Live Today.â€ The droning layers disperse beneath the guitaristâ€™s string-raking chord chops and a pulsating bass line as the album staggers to a close, exhausted and eviscerated. Although there is nothing â€œradio-friendlyâ€ or traditionally â€œPopâ€ about Ego:Echo, the passion for music which Ulan Bator exudes clearly indicates that violence is being done to the thing they love.