The krautrock trio Ubu Imperator emerged in early 2022 within Munich’s underground scene. In numerous jam sessions a constellation of Simon Bartenschlager’s guitar, Daniel Pizarro’s drums and Raphael Höp’s synthesizers gradually evolved, navigating the most diverse realms between reverie and drama, harmonies and noise, together with rhythm and chaos. The universe of Ubu Imperator not only includes sound, but also manifests itself in illustrations, animation, and texts. The band is currently presenting their first release, a DIY cassette that through four songs, a compilation of illustrations and writings takes the listener to a parallel universe full of musical sensations. This EP was recorded and mixed by the band itself in their own rehearsal room, and it was mastered by Ulrich Treutwein. Their music is mostly instrumental and shaped by ambient-kraut-ish textures immersive sequences and arpeggios, as well as disruptive noise in alternation with harmonic Synthesizer Chords. Read on down below for individual track write-ups!
‘Greiser Phoenix’ sets the mood with epic wailing guitars, varied and complex drumming that quietly and subtly keeps up a steady stream of intricate transitions, dark synth flares, and even vocal chanting as the song progresses into a two-minute anthem fit for the stadiums starting around the three-minute mark. Five-minutes in and the tone and rhythm changes drastically with a shimmering synth rapidly pulsing against a slow and repetitive bass-line that carries the song to its closing. Greiser Phoenix could almost be three separate songs and yet these somewhat distinct parts hold together and progress through unmistakeable shifts by certain unifying elements. For instance, remember that rapidly pulsing synth near the end? Well, it’s also present nearer the beginning around thirty-seconds into the song. Hats off, gentlemen!
‘Plateau VII’ gives us a minute-long dreamy and psychedelic guitar intro with gorgeous cymbal flourish’s where they count! After that, in comes a pulsing synth and light drum work that evolves in a snap to a dark bass grove and filled out drums while the guitar continues in an improvisation. What began in a dreamy haze of melancholy has become one hell of a zip-zapping dance track! But it’s not over yet…For one-minute starting around 5:15 the instruments get distorted, noisy, heavy, and generally it sounds like all hell is breaking loose. Suddenly, around 6:25, the slow and dreamy guitar from the beginning is back, but now it’s playing atop the mayhem of the other instruments, and thanks to the sophisticated way that it’s mixed it actually works and sounds quite pleasing given that the dreamy guitar is brought to the forefront with the intensity of the other parts being appropriately backlit.
‘Ubus Garten,’ comparatively short among the three other 6+ minute tracks, with a runtime of 2:35. It’s abstractly sparse windings and wanderings creates a sense of free form improvisation. It’s a synth piece in the sense of the synth being foregrounded to some degree. There’s dark and deep droning tones, drum embellishments, and if there is any guitar it must be going through pedals. Ubus Garten is a gentler and more meandering track that emphasizes a trippy atmosphere over any preconfigured arrangement-style.
That just leaves ‘Kardinalkardinal’. The opening guitar rift comes and goes, with impressive tangents in-between that make the return of the opening rift all the more satisfying. The drumming is full of energy and variety but equally restrained. The synth work on this varies from atmospheric brushstrokes to low bass grooves to piercing melodic lines that are in tandem with the guitar. Check out the video below of Ubu Imperator performing this track live and hear it for yourself!
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