“ujat-jehm” is a digital only collaborative release from two long time friends Mike Cadoo (Bitcrush, Dryft, n5MD Records) and Paul Stephan (Xoloder). The release is almost a tag team type effort where one builds upon the others work and possibly takes the music in another direction. This is best explained below, but the credits listing Paul Stephan as Bend and Stretch, with Mike Cadoo as Smear and Modulate, hint at their contributions.

Ujat-jhem is a new collaborative album of experimental textures, drone, and throttle from M.Cadoo and P.Stephan.

Mike Cadoo (Bitcrush) and Paul Stephan (Xoloder) have been quietly collaborating on music for nearly half their lives in some form. It began when they were roommates living in a desolate pre-BART suburb in the east San Francisco Bay area. Paul working the graveyard shift would leave unfinished works on their collective 4 track. Mike would, in turn after his morning shift, add to Paul’s aural experiments. This very process was repeated in a loop and is an apt metaphor to the music itself. These experiments sit frozen in time on a multitude of tapes split between Cadoo and Stephan and while there has been a reoccurring discussion in revisiting these nostalgic artifacts Cadoo and Stephan chose to start fresh and create Ujat-jhem. The album began with an impressive array of sound-sculpting sketches that Stephan created as a perfect jumping off point. Ujat-jhem then became less of an idea but an ethos to bend, rebend, mangle and strain every sound to its logical yet musical limit that became the entity that is Ujat-jhem.

Looking at the album as a whole, the music definitely sits in the experimental sphere where sound art, electronics, drone and noise combine to create alien like soundscapes. Not all the pieces are the same and being titled “ujat-jhem 1-8” it could possibly be a concept album.

“ujat-jhem1” draws you in with darkish drones before setting the tone with harsh dronescapes that sound like angle grinders are polishing up steel amongst a storm, while an electric throb – come bass line – come percussive element bounces away. Knowing that Mike is responsible for releasing music with a melodic heart, straight away with this release you know that along with Stephan we are going to be thrown into the harsher, darker side of music, one that potentially straddles the fence bordering noise music.

“ujat-jhem2” starts up with degrading distorted loops before scattering, bustling electronic tones of a techno variety bounce across the soundscapes paired with low-level dark ambience that fills up the sound. The dark ambience adds this menacing feel that removes a bit of the feeling from the electronics which could easily be part of a noisier Raster Noton or Kvitnu release. An interesting deviation from the opener and one that adds extra arsenal to their weaponry.

“ujat-jhem3” evolves out of near silence that has an ominous hum. Early Severed Heads style sounds scatter across as well as static noise and tiny glitch textures. The track feels like a slow-moving loop track that is incrementally swallowing up space. At the half way mark the sonic intensity increases with clashing sounds, shards of noise, feedback, distortion and a descent into territories only thought about in the opener. You get the feeling that the track could be an except from sort of science fiction/horror hybrid movie with its ominous textures and claustrophobic mood.

“ujat-jhem4” flips the script on its head. Fast moving slightly harsh drones cascade alongside a rumbling bass that runs through the core. A storm like track which is enhanced by the feedback emanating from the drones, there is a haunting, ghostly quality as if howling apparitions are hurtling past. Cut up electronics and metallic noises change the textures somewhat to bring the track in line with those before it. As the track progresses the drones elevate in their harshness, while looped electronics that sound like malfunctioning equipment bring a bit of a respite from the potential crash of noise. Towards the end we mercifully return to the ambient tones we began with.

“ujat-jhem5” we are back in the subterranean world of dark drones, flickers of electronics and icy tones. The music moves at a slow pace like lava slowly taking over everything. The flickering electronics sounds like some sort of broken transmission. The music starts to increases in intensity of the drones and their pace. The way the sounds move and change feels like a journey in this subterranean area, as you turn corners the areas become narrow or large, truncated or expanded, which is shown through the changes in the music.

“ujat-jhem6” alien tones and harsh dark ambient noises form the core of the track. The music while being harsh, feels distant, in the way that there is an echoic quality. It is like you are hearing the end result from the whole in a tunnel and the result is the journey and the environment that the music has gone through to be heard. There are rhythmical industrial style beats (for want of a better word), clanging metallic swirling drones and harsh noises combining to create an unhinged piece.

“ujat-jhem7” provides a respite. I mean compared to traditional ambience its on the cold/dark side of the fence, but compared to that of the other tracks Cadoo and Stephan have allowed us a chance to retreat/regroup from the harshness. Not that this doesn’t have its fair share of eerie sounds, detritus and ominous pulsing drones. Thankfully though, we get a somewhat ambient track to help us soothe.

“ujat-jhem8” Soothing time is over. The nightmare continues with a track that sonicly resembles a hurricane brings us to the end of the release. Waves smashing on the beach drones mixed with howling winds, the metal roofs flapping as they strain to hold on, thunderous rumbles all contribute to a fast-moving storm of a track that is engulfing all in its wake. You feel that you are in the eye of the storm as the sounds flash past, but also swirl around you in a tremendous bath of noise. But, then it mercifully dissipates and you are left with this low-lying electronic rumble as if transmissions are dying and all life has been wiped out.

For those that notice the n5MD link to this release and think they are going to find something close to that catalog, Run! If you like the darker stuff, what you will find is one of the most unsettling descents into dark sonic territory I have come across in a while. To steal a Boyd Rice and Frank Tovey album title “Easy Listening For The Hard of Hearing”. You have been warned.

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