By Jacob Katel
By Karli Evans
By Jose D. Duran
By Pablo Chacon Alvarez
By Kat Bein
By Abel Folgar
By Laurie Charles
In the three years since the release of his first album, 2001's Out of the Anonymous, Ulysses Perez has had a lot of time to reflect on the philosophies that guide him: attention, intention, and focus. The result is a well-crafted and highly refined followup, Masked Media.
Creating a template for live performances, Perez composed and performed most of the music himself. His digital environments are filled out with organic sounds provided by Buffalo Brown (guitar), Henry Rajan (viola and trumpet), and Seth Brody (viola). Together, the group creates an atmospheric presence akin to a musical score (think Air's The Virgin Suicides or Goblin's Suspiria).
Masked Media's opener, "This Box, Uneven, Unempty," is the least subversive cut. It leads to the Middle Eastern/Eurasian sounds of "Arabian Base" before climaxing in "Rapid Vapors," the longest arrangement on the album. "Sirens Over Sodom" and "Answers Given Backwards" exhibit funky overtones and danceable beats. They work as lighthearted flights of fantasy that contrast with "Last Dance With the Lizard," an example of the darker areas in which Perez prefers to operate. The disc closes out with the trip-hop flavor and sprechgesang of local poet Obscure on the title track.
OOTA is the living and breathing manifestation of Perez's sang-froid, equal parts Ray Coniff, Isao Tomita, Martin Denny, and Esquivel. With a firm grasp on the orchestration of his music, he takes the listener through a many-layered and acid-tinged trip of paranoia, abduction, the self, and emotional release/annihilation. -- Abel Folgar