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Review: 'UMBERTO'
'Helpless Spectator'   

-  Label: 'Thrill Jockey'
-  Genre: 'Ambient' -  Release Date: '12th July 2019'

Our Rating:
Umberto is composer Matt Hill from Los Angeles, California. The alias is an homage to the late film director Umberto Lenzi whose dubious claim to fame was that he made the first Italian cannibal movie ‘Man From The Deep River’.

The album title is taken from Julian Jaynes' popular science book : ‘The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind’, a precursor to the notion of the divided self.

Based on this background info you might expect this album to explore psychological depths and probe some darker truths about the human psyche. It does neither.

The spooky synths on tracks like Spontaneous Possession and Reflection could conceivably soundtrack a horror movie but for the most part I’d say the mood of the instrumentals is more chilled than chilling. The title Sadness, Happiness, Disgust And Surprise gives a good indication of the various textures and emotions he taps into.

Hidden Thoughts is a swirling six minute intro as if trying to establish a direction; a mode of expression. There is no obvious rush to make a bold statement to capture the listener’s attention. The drifting quality has more elements of classical music than straight ambience.

Alongside digital beats, Hill makes extensive use of live instrumentation too. He plays guitar, bass, and piano while Aaron Martin chips in on cello and bowed banjo. In addition, “Idaho Joe” Winslow’s pedal steel guitar broadens the palette on two tracks: Leafless Tree and The Higher Room.

The closing piano driven tunes – the tranquil Absent Images and the slightly busier Arroyo - take us full circle to leave us at the end of this pleasant sonic journey in a reflective state of mind

Listen to Helpless Spectator at Bandcamp
  author: Martin Raybould

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UMBERTO - Helpless Spectator