October 23, 2010

UMBERTO - "Prophecy of the Black Widow" (NNF)

The folks over at Not Not Fun never cease to amaze me.Every month or so, a fresh batch of mind-altering sounds mysteriously shows up from this long running L.A. label, and this one caught me off guard indeed.Wow.After what seems like at least a million spins of last year's "From the Grave.." full length, I wasn't too sure if this was just a one-time thing or what, but I am happy to announce his return.Umberto is the alter-ego of which one talented young man - Matt Hill, delivers his fresh and inventive take on the sadly overlooked Italo-Horror soundtracks of the mid-seventies.Total Goblin worship at it's finest, with his own magic-dust sprinkled over it.Matt is no stranger to epic musical landscapes either,he is also the main man behind drone/psych juggernaut Expo 70,who also dish out some fantastic purely instrumental ear candy.
  With his fairly recent Umberto project, he conjures up the ghosts of early horror film and soundtrack pioneers like Goblin, John Carpenter, Claudio Simonetti, and even the more recent Zombi works.I can't help but imagine a giant backdrop flashing images of classic Argento films, in a live performance.Hill almost effortlessly creates hypnotic layers of haunting synthesizers, topped with some rather stunning synth arpeggios, as a damp low-end growl slithers around them.His tasteful use of soft synth patches, mixed with the buzzing sine-waves melts together almost too perfectly, creating a dense black cloud of deep chords and brooding swells.He's got quite a knack for melody too, which has been proven time and again with his incredible and expansive work in Expo 70, and he applies the same tuneful wizardry to these blackened electro numbers.Leaning more towards the subtle-yet-danceable downbeat, opposed to the symphonic-progressive rock styles of most of his predecessors.
  Now,this isn't s total throwback to the Italian horror genre.Sure, the song titles are spooky nods, and the artwork is just screaming "Obscure Horror Soundtrack", and yes,the music is very similar to the aforementioned acts, but with "Prophecy.." there is a much more modern and revitalizing take on this outsider sub-genre.Hill is clearly paying tribute to something that has been greatly overlooked for decades, and he is doing it so,so right.Songs for chasing someone through the woods, peeking through a stranger's window, creaking doors and some late night dancing in the dark.
Artwork by Seth Johnson.Edition of 485 black vinyl lp's.

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