The origin story behind Matt Hill’s 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 a fascinatingly atypical Umberto outing: downcast, classical, ancient, ethereal. In the wake of several 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, diverging from his established giallo-paranoia mode. The record’s nine tracks flow between winter garden reverie (“Elimination,” “Lost Night”), insomniac visions (“White Night,” “Passage”), and shivering dirge (“Black Sea”). Hill deployed vocalists Victoria Gokun and Edward Tonoyan to weight certain songs with haunted human voice, singing 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. Four-panel CD digipaks with expressionist cover painting by Geoffrey Sexton; metallic gold layout designed by Tim Goodwillie.