One Umbrella is a duo from Austin who really don't sound like anything that I've heard before. Using a variety of techniques, the group has arrived at something that mixes equal parts Mego label and Brian Eno. At times, the group is attacking you with waves of unique sonic noise, and at other times they massage your cerebral cortex with soft ambience. The group has self-released 3 EPs to-date, and this Solve EP is a collection of tracks from two of those releases, as well as some tracks from their upcoming full-length. Sonically, the 20-minute EP shows off all sides of their sound.
The release opens with "Itxitxx," and while it sounds like a stuttering electronic wash that recalls work from the aforementioned Austrian label, the track also manages to breath with an organic life. At times it sounds like a sitar and an accordion breathing through it all. "Oioi" is one of the new tracks from the group and like the first track glistens with a sometimes-harsh digital sheen that renders it a bit on the cold side, but seemingly has a human underbelly as wheezes and analoge touches seem to creep out from behind the dense, swirling soundscapes.
A perfect example of extremes are the tracks "Xestyl" and "8trs." While the former blasts away with almost unlistenable noisy electronic chatter and heavy-duty blistering squelches (Florian Hecker calling!), the latter is an ambient, melancholy parlour piano piece that mixes in some spoken field recordings to nice effect. Several shorter tracks from the same era that appear on the EP also breath with the same soft light. The release closes with what is probably the best track on the entire thing, and also a sign that the group hasn't completely given in to harshness on their newer work, as "Eintrocinc" is a molasses-heavy cloud of filtered and melded guitar and bass melodies that remind one of a juicier Stars Of The Lid.
As a whole the Solve EP is one of those releases that leaves me with more questions than it answers. The group is intriguing at times and at times they seem to get a little carried away by their love of making sheer noise. The two don't always go together that well and so the EP definitely has little sections in which it seems to be working and others where it isn't. Given the group conjures up so many reactions in just over twenty minutes, that's a somewhat encouraging sign, but I could do without the eardrum blistering.