Unus Mundus
(all titles reviewed below are self-released by the artist)

by Jeff Fitzgerald

From Aural Innovations #38 (Jan 2008)

Unus Mundus is the brainchild of Athens, Georgia based musician Steven Fitzpatrick. After playing for ten years with various underground bands, he struck out on his own because he decided that it was time for the music that he heard in his mind to match that which was actually being produced. Each release here involves him either solo or with whomever he gets to collaborate with him at the time, so the sound from disc to disc is varied, but in general, the music crosses back and forth over the boundaries between very spaced out psychedelia and bizarre and trippy sound experiments. Five very different CD’s, all connected by the innovative minds of Steven Fitzpatrick and his friends.

Manipulated Sound Source and Unus Mundus – Live at the X-Ray Café

Noise experiments and expansive soundscapes are the order of the day on Live at the X-Ray Café, a collaborative performance with Manipulated Sound Source. Consisting of four lengthy tracks, the first, The Burroughs Song is a cut-up/sound collage, mimicking the cut-up technique that William S. Burroughs used to write classics like Naked Lunch, but in a sonic instead of a literary context. It’s followed by the 16-minute, demented, distorted psychedelic blues/random free experimentation of The 2 Dollar Wine Deluxe, a sleazy excursion into the hallucinogenic underbelly of the city. The 3 Degree Cosmic Background Exhalation continues the free experimentation, delving into spacey, droning realms with hints of Eastern melodies emerging in the distorted guitar work. The disc closes with The City on the Edge of Forever, perhaps the flipside to 2 Dollar Wine Deluxe, another trip into the city, but this one a glittering utopia in the shining distance, with ethnic rhythms, bizarre voices and rocking guitar swirling amidst the sonic textures.

The Noisettes and Unus Mundus – P.O. Box Hallucination

P.O. Box Hallucination is a back and forth collaboration with Brian Horst of The Noisettes. As its title suggests, it will indeed deliver you into hallucinogenic realms. This one’s a collection of mostly short (45 second to 2-minute) sonic experiments. It’s mostly in a more ambient vein, not quite electronic though, touching on sound collage without actually stepping into it. Throughout, Fitzpatrick’s guitar experimentation gives the pieces a richly textured organic feel. This excursion is a dark and trippy one, music for the late hours of the night, sounds from the edges of sleep, exemplified perhaps by the title of one of the tracks, Dreaming of Strange and Distant Times, for these are strange and distant pieces, that could easily be the soundtrack to a dream.

Unus Mundus – Idyls and Musings

Similar in style, but much more active in nature is Idyls and Musings, which relies on the distorted and manipulated guitar textures that Fitzpatrick seems to excel at, but couples them with slow and evolving rhythms. This time out as well, things are lusher and spaceier, less sparse than the Noisettes collaboration. Straying from a strictly ambient approach, Fitzpatrick introduces melodies into the mix, but they are elusive things that flow into being, only to dissolve again into burbling, churning soundscapes, rising and emerging again and again, and melting once more as Fitzpatrick stirs his sonic soup. Not just because the title suggests it, but because I definitely got the impression that this disc was more personal in nature, maybe even nostalgic. It’s contemplative music, but never uninteresting. This was one of my favourites.

Unus Mundus – Embrionic Sun

Another of my favourites of the bunch is the four song EP Embrionic Sun. Being a big fan of the early Pink Floyd space rock sound, it’s always interesting to hear creative covers of songs from that era, and that is exactly what this disc consists of. First up is a nicely spacey, wobbly weird psychedelic rendition of The Embryo that floats along like Jello in water. The next cut is an intriguing one, being a distorted, nightmare-like cover of the song Seabirds. Seabirds is a Pink Floyd song that even a lot of Pink Floyd fans are unaware of, as it was never on any official release. Indeed, the only version one can hear of it as performed by Pink Floyd themselves is in the background of the movie More, where it’s playing on a radio, with dialogue during the scene running through it. This makes it an excellent and very unusual choice to include! Third up, Unus Mundus journeys back into hallucinogenic space with a deeply strange version of one of my all time favourites, Cirrus Minor. And finally, we get a reverb laden electric rendition of Fat Old Sun that ploughs on for a good 8-minutes with nicely psychedelic guitar work.

Unus Mundus with Altuizine – Live at WUGA, 91.7 FM

Lastly, but definitely not leastly is Unus Mundus with Altuizine, Live at WUGA, 91.7 FM. This one is a collection of acoustic psychedelia that ranges from the plaintive instrumental meditation of Evolution to the whacked-out psychedelic blues of The 2 Dollar Wine Deluxe (a very different version than the one heard on X-Ray Café) to another version of Pink Floyd’s Embryo, this one a stripped down, oddball folksy version. Despite its acoustic simplicity, there’s some nice variety on this disc. There’s even a 10-minute long experimental soundscape of acoustic guitars and eerie, echoed percussion called Red Pennies and Wine (Choppy Waves), which ends things off in a nicely abstract way.

For more info visit: http://unusmundus.netfirms.com/ and http://www.myspace.com/unusworld

Click your browser's BACK button to return to the previous page.
Or CLICK HERE to return to the main Aural Innovations page.