Unicity – Unicity (Constellation Tatsu, 2014)

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Another day, another release from Constellation Tatsu. I am having a few problems with writing today; it’s been a long and inarguably peculiar week all round with both mineĀ and my sister’s birthdays (21 and 18 respectively, big year) and I just feel odd. But remnant hangover be damned, here today we have an odd release for an odd day and I’ll just take the time to say a few words on it and play catch up.

The album’s description on its Bandcamp page (incidentally, it’s free) gives us almost no hint whatsoever as to what we’re getting ourselves into with this bitesized, 20 minute album; “-moist lilies in plastic carriers found polished in the red-tiled floor” it says, “You’ll need to make a map.”. I’m frequently, and for good reason, often rather dubious of albums that talk in such cryptic and oftentimes heady tones, but in Unicity’s case it seems to appropriately compound the strangeness of the release. The A side strikes up to beautiful flowing synth lines, in the manner of what we’ve come to expect from a Constellation Tatsu album; blissed out washes of nostalgic, dated synths and delicately interwoven field recordings are carefully unspun through a series of discrete phases, each one comprised of a subtly different theme and angle of attack but slipstreaming effortlessly one into the next.

Wind and rain provide a freshening and cathartic experience during one particularly cool chapter of the first side, riding the coattails from the rather more sunny and golden sequences that preceded it. The entire side really is a slow diminuendo, riding out those foreign and alienating flanged synths and darker drones that it opens with, picking apart the fugue one careful step at a time. The B side is a very different animal, arriving on shining beams of precise synth light, slow and twinkling. This rather triumphant phase lasts almost a third of the entire side and it seems eager to be done away with as it fades into a gorgeously menacing followup filled to the brim with overlapping, distal drones that slowly un-smear and become undone as their original synth fabric of notes is brought into view, oscillating and rocking back and forth as it evolves back to life. It’s perhaps the most evocative and thoughtful sequence of the record and I’m in love, just adrift as a mote captured in a sunbeam with not a care in the world, filled with bleary old light as we float gracefully towards the end of the album in a flurry of late and inspired activity.

It’s difficult to capture what it is that Unicity have created here, I suppose. Certainly I think one of the most appealing things about this record is its length; it’s just so convenient at only 20 minutes long that if you didnt feel in complete understanding the first time around, you can just go again, each short spin highlighting some delicate facet that you missed the time before. I think perhaps its “strangeness” or its cryptic nature have possibly been overstated, by myself included, but there is an off-kilter peculiarity and a strong sensation of personal evolution and shifting emotional state throughout that’s hard to deny. Short and simple it may very well be, but shallow and monotonous it is not.

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