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.
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