Umberto – Alienation LP

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The origin story behind Matt Hill’s perplexingly stark and melancholic fourth full-length is suitably cryptic: “I had a vision of a man experiencing a series of alienating situations.” Whatever the impetus, Alienation stands as the most fascinatingly atypical Umberto album to date: downcast, subdued, haunted, ethereal. In the wake of several extensive international tours and a string of high-profile collaborations with Antoni Maiovvi for the Death Waltz imprint – including a harrowing live score of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Hill began expanding his palette, exploring divergences from his classic giallo-paranoia mode. The record’s nine tracks flow between winter garden ambience (“Elimination,” “Lost Night”), lofty insomniac reverie (“White Night,” “Passage”), and shivering dirge (“Black Sea”), only two of which echo the pulsing synthesizer night-stalks he’s best known for (“Drifters,” “Dawn Of Mirrors”). Hill also commissioned vocalists Victoria Gokun and Edward Tonoyan to weight certain songs with heavier emotion, using lyrics inspired by condemned Russian poet Anna Akhmatova. The combined effect feels out of time, intertwining currents of memory, delusion, and beauty, an unplaceable soundtrack for untraceable sorrow. Recorded and mixed by Matt Hill in Los Angeles, 2015. Mastered by Alex Nagle in Philadelphia, 2016. Black vinyl LPs in expressionist cover sleeves by Geoffrey Sexton, with metallic gold layout designed by Tim Goodwillie.

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