y0t0 – Uriarra Road
Posted In: Brendan Moore, Charles Sage, Facture, Uriarra Road, y0t0, y0t0 – Uriarra Road
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A few days before we set off on our August travels we released a very special album on the Fature imprint by the artist y0t0. The release received great feedback from various review sites (links below) and has now been reviewed by Brendan Moore for Fluid Radio. Also watch our for a limited edition vinyl version coming at the end of the year…
y0t0 is the side (not quite solo) project of Charles Sage of Hessien. Released as a digital only release by the Facture label, the album, as the press release states,’ charts the decline of an outback town chasing survival as industry money crawls back to the city limits ‘. It’s a big concept, hard to fully realize strictly with only audio at your disposal one would think. But Sage’s work is able to create a sense of space that helps the listener do the imagining of this world of post-urban decay. Not only that, Sage creates an album that manages to simultaneously celebrate the optimism and the decay of this post-everything landscape that makes the release an accessible yet challenging album.
Opening track ‘Black Ice’ does a pitch-perfect job of setting the tone for this piece about urban desolation. Immediately a crunchy electronic-hum, not unlike the radio-static of, say, a CB radio immerses in this world of decay. Could this be the sound of an abandoned broadcast post? Sage’s ambitions for the release are large, but his ability to not just welcome, but immerse the listener in his narrative so immediately is a feat in itself. ‘Black Ice’ relies on drone elements and some gentle post-rock guitar melodies to keep the piece grounded in something human. As much as the album is about a landscape it’s also about the absence of human life in this new world.
In the album’s press release Facture writes of Uriarra Road that it is “…a full album’s exploration of the hope found in abandonment”. ‘Hope’ and ‘abandonment’ read as contradictory terms in most people’s purview, but not in the musical landscape Sage creates. There is a sense of emptiness and stark desolation across the whole album but the moments of light, usually provided by Sage’s minimal but precise guitar and piano work, serve to give Sage’s narrative an emotional heft. Along with the music of Uriarra Road comes a booklet of photos, all set to specific songs. The accompanying images use black and white photographs of mostly industrial objects/buidlings in isolation from any larger community. One of the most potent images is of what appears to be a streetlight, the wiring above causing the image to appear as though it is the shadow of some sinister mechanical spider. Most of the images show an ominous sky above, clouds parted in a sea of grey as if to suggest that no matter how grand the mechanics of a cityscape, nature is always much more grand and fierce. But those grey skies also suggest a sort of ecologically damaged sky, one made all the more threatening by man-and-machine’s interaction with it.
Although the album and Sage’s narrative stand on their own through the music, the photographs incorporated are wisely selected in that they accent the way the album relies on a series of snapshots (rather than something continuous and linear) to tell the story of this soon-to-be-forgotten urban wasteland. The narrative seems to become progressively less human and colder as the album progresses, as if Sage is suggesting the lack of human presence here is for the best so that nature can begin the work of healing itself. And how does this process of rebirth begin? Through continued decay of course: rain leads to rust, winds lead to collapse, etc. But it is only through this process of destruction that the reconstruction and the reconnection to something more human, more ‘natural’ can begin.
In recent months many artists have tied very specific narratives to their albums (Petrels comes to mind as very successful example), but often these narratives seem hard to sustain for the duration of a whole album. “Uriarra Road” never loses its way; it is singular in its purpose and devout in its intentions. Even the album’s guest artists (consisting of Relmic Statute. Jasper TX, Spheruleus, Seaworthy, Field Rotation, Downliners Sekt and Ghosting Season) are so fully committed to Sage’s vision that their presence is only minimally felt. That is a tribute to both the guest artists and the thoroughness of sage’s vision for the release. In a musical landscape where the ‘album’ is becoming a harder benchmark for more and more musicians to meet, “Uriarra Road” is a work that deserves and rewards your attention.
- Brendan Moore for Fluid Radio
Available for download over at the Facture Bandcamp website