Untitled Album: a review

SELA’s prior sonic blemishes make this album quench even more

Untitled Album is a collaborative album (dubbed ‘arbitrary beat tape’) between Boston producer and occasional rapper, ovrcast, and Vallejo’s own sample guru, SELA, carved out of two live studio improv sessions (according to the bandcamp page).

My previous encounters with SELA and his music have been oftentimes wonderfully perturbing yet occasionally fatally torpid, mostly due in part to its lack of percussion and the shapelessness that the void denotes. At any rate, SELA’s prior sonic blemishes make this album quench even more.

Untitled Album fills all of first’s potholes with the addition of ovrcast’s steadfast drum machine work, improving upon SELA’s haunting production approach and extending it into more exuberant territory. and the

Clocking in at 33 songs at 33 minutes, this album is by no means progressive. The longest song on the project is a staggering two minutes and twelve seconds.

‘one’ opens the album. The treble rules the mix, rendering it brittle and rigid. The forlorn synth leads are dusty and unnerving like the house your grandmother used to live in that is probably decrepit and abandoned now. Nostalgia is one of the congealing forces of the album.

‘stars’ reiterates the ‘one’s tone with a sleepier tonality, with clipping synthetic strings periodically piercing you back into lucidity.

From the get go, the album’s disposition establishes itself to be more digital than SELA’s previous work. This album is like what would happen if you somehow connected to a dial up internet server from the 90s through a ouija board. There’s no way you can look me dead in the eyes and tell me that this album isn’t haunted by the ghost of the pre millennium internet. The functionality of this album is incredibly crass at face value for the same reason.

Both improv recording sessions where streamlined through a 20 year old Dell desktop that ran windows 98 and recorded directly to cassette. If that doesn’t give you an idea about this projects ethos then I don’t even know what.

This can mostly be attributed to the projects production, which stays in the forefront of the album the whole of it through. At moments, this album is so lo fi that it borders on cutting its nose to spite its face, as a vast majority of the elements in the songs are 64 bit, though the albums embrace of these attitudes make quite obvious this was intentional.

I mean a few of these song titles are borderline juvenile. ‘trash loop’, ‘?????’, ‘(track 25), ‘mmhmm’, and ‘F*** DRAKE’ are a few of my favorites.

All 33 tracks somehow feel progressive due to the fact that there are rarely breaks in the rhythm. As many as 12 songs feed into each other without taking a breath.

I won’t go as far as to say that the album’s sound wears it’s welcome, but it seldom ventures away from lukewarm intensity, and that doesn’t exactly incentivize people to endure all 33 clammy minutes. The only thing that saves the drum machine from being incessant is the fact that the album is marketed as a beat tape. Though yet again, this was most likely taken into account while the album was being created.

After about 19 tracks of slush, the album, like all the best olympic runners, hits its stride on the home stretch. Tracks 27 – 33 really take all of the best parts of the album and just run with them; packing ancient elevator music and educational video sound bites into the mix like archaic sardines.

‘I’ve been waiting for this night’ is my favorite number because I believe that it marks the point in the album where SELA and ovrcast reach a flow state, and master their methods to make something as cinematic as it is coarse.

This album has dethroned homemade jams from jules and jessica’s kitchen as the Abbey Road of Adult Swim liner music, and really SELA’s career has just consisted of him dethroning himself every time he decides to be as indulgent as he is on this album.