By Rob van Alstyne
By Zach McCormick
By Emily Eveland
By Jack Spencer
By Michael Madden
By Reed Fischer
By Emily Weiss
By Emily Weiss
The Umbrella Sequence
The cover art on the Umbrella Sequence's latest CD, Events, depicts a despondent businessman sitting at a desk that has sprouted robotic arms and legs, like some sort of cube-toppling Transformer. It's the kind of abstract/absurd artwork that lends itself to whatever metaphor strikes your fancy. What I see is defeated resignation—an admission that the soulless beast of technology is now firmly in charge, and humanity is just along for the ride.
But the disc inside argues to the contrary. In Events, the band gathers random samples, loops, blips, bleeps, whirrings, and whatnots and massages them into nine tracks of joyful, seamless, and—most importantly—accessible electronic pop.
Opener "Urban Lull" demonstrates the foursome's penchant for quirky, dreamy melodies that churn along lazily, à la the Flaming Lips. Singer Ryan Rupprecht's bashful falsetto flits playfully with brightly strummed guitars, tinkling chimes, and the random phaser-like synth sound.
On "This Time We're Positive," the band members pull the song structure apart and slow down the tempo to conjure up distinct echoes of Halloween, Alaska. Drummer Marshall Baltzell lays down a particularly wet and muffled drum track that plods along beneath a warbling, descending synth line, lulling you into an eerie but contented stupor.
This trend toward unhurried sonic exploration is fully realized on the final track, "Purple Roads." The omnipresent sound of falling rain cradles a minimalist, melancholy piano line that slowly dissolves into the faintest of lingering feedback loops. It's organic, beautiful, and utterly human.